1. Brands becomes “Brand Stands”

Pete Blackshaw

A recent Advertising Age Article written by Pete Blackshaw is a must read for anyone interested in branding in the digital age.  In this provocative article Pete asks the question…. In the age of social media, do companies sill need a website? Along with addressing some of the most critical challenges facing your marketing team, he examines, in wonderful detail,  how to create a website that will fit the social media usage patterns of your customers and prospects.

As companies like Nike, Adidas and numerous others shift their marketing dollars from promoting their website to promoting their Facebook page, he argues brands are becoming decentralized. Companies will no longer have one “home” for their brand.  Instead the company brand will reside on various social networks he calls your “brand stands.” Your brand stands are the representations of your brand on-Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.. He wraps up the article by walking you through how to use your website effectively to feed your “brand stands” and create an  integrated online marketing system. I strongly recommend this approach for my clients and Pete does a great job outlining what your system should look like.

2. Brands will be Built on Individuals Leveraging Personal Relationships to Make Buying Decisions.

Rich Kiley Cincinnati Consumer Marketing Hub

Rich Kiley and I were discussing the importance of engagement and the crumbling of the traditional advertising model over coffee the other day.  He said, and I am paraphrasing here…”Beth the future is about people making buying decisions based on personal relationships.” I agreed with him, when a customer or client makes a buying decision they could care less about what an ad does or doesn’t say.  They want to read the review of the product on the internet. At that point Rich looked at me and said, “No, I am talking about one-on-one personal relationships. Not reviews, but a “direct ask.” If someone is about to make a buying decision, they’re not going to be interested in reviews written by strangers when social networks make asking a trusted friend an effortless process. They will just ask their network for a recommendation.

3. How to Play in the New World

1. Market Research

Your market research system needs to be interactive and digital:  Historically employing market research has meant a big hit to the bottom line, if a company could even afford it in the first place. The good news is, if you are using interactive media and social networks, market research becomes  infinitely  more affordable. Two great examples are Mystarbucksidea.com and the Gold Corp story.

2. Customer Service

Your customer service needs to be flawless. If your product or service is not up to snuff, word is going to spread quickly if not instantly. Your company is going to have to be paying attention and able to take action quickly.  The more nimble you are the better. Your competitors are going to be using the relationships they’re building on social networks to adapt quickly to customers needs, you can either join them or loose customers to them. For most companies this means a wholesale restructuring of their internal approval processes and internal communication system to leverage these new tools and create a new digital communication structure.

3. Your Product or service

The bottom line is that it’s going to become increasingly difficult to hide poor quality products or service and increasingly important to adjust your product or service offering to meet changing customer needs.

Jeffery Immelt

As Jeffrey Immelt said when he spoke here in Cincinnati in the spring, “Today the biggest challenge companies face, is the rapidly changing business environment.  Everyday it’s a new game.”

Start your branding engines!