Home  › Marketing › Strategies

All Brand Power to the Consumer

  |  November 28, 2006   |  Comments

Five years from now, almost every successful marketing activity will be created and driven by the consumer. Three tips to prepare for it.

Remember what your brand manual looks like? You probably haven't looked at it in years. After all, the days of being able to explain your brand in terms of the brand manual's pages of detail are long gone, and so is the manual's capacity for predicting the brand's behavior.

These days, consumers are in charge of your brand. Since the Internet began, the power in the brand game has shifted. In the old days, marketers were in full control of the brand. Now the majority of brand impressions are initiated and promulgated by consumers. Consumers have become brand masters, leaving marketers to merely fuel the game, rather than play it. In a trend I call the Me Selling Proposition (MSP), consumers are in charge of your brand.

Five years from now, almost every successful marketing activity will be created and driven by the consumer. What do you do to survive in such a world?

Prepare now!

Here are three tips that may help you prepare your organization for having the consumer behind the brand steering wheel.

Address the Decision-Making Process

First and most important: address your organization's decision-making processes. Your company will need to acknowledge it can no longer be on top of every piece of brand communication. This acceptance must be at board level. You must persuade the board to begin developing marketing and communication materials that will be carried by consumers and that, in 50 percent of cases, are likely to change the way you intended to represent the brand. Because it will happen.

Some of the most successful brand campaigns are run by consumers. You know you've succeeded when consumers create sites and blogs about your brand. When you search on your brand's name on Google and find the majority of traffic is consumer dialogue about your brand -- all positive, of course!

Or is it? The reality is there'll be negative opinion as well. But this is where the mandate you won from the board comes into play. The board must be aware, from the start, that 100 percent positive discussion about your brand is impossible. The environment must be open and receptive to all comments; consumers won't be interested in participating in a controlled debate. Your role is to kick-start the debate, to fuel the dialogue and make it interesting.

Some sites have done this beautifully. Last month, I mentioned CampaignForRealBeauty.com, a Web site powered by Dove and open to consumer debate. All comments, negative and positive, are shared.

Break the Controversy Ice

The second factor to consider in preparing for the brand power shift is breaking the controversy ice. Your brand can no longer afford to be squeaky clean and uncontroversial. To encourage consumers to talk about your brand, you have to give them something to talk about. The brand has to be edgy, provocative, and opinionated.

Tomorrow's brands must have opinions, or they'll be perceived as bland. Many companies think viral marketing campaign success is about creating a :60 video and sending it out. Wrong. It's about making that video so extraordinarily different, so provocative, so edgy, so funny, so extreme in some way that consumers can't resist sharing the experience. You must question how far you're prepared to go -- and rely on the board's mandate you achieved at the outset.

Participate in Instant Branding

The third factor is "instant branding." Things no longer happen according to a 24-month deadline. You might be lucky and have a deadline stretch to 24 hours. Brands must prepare themselves to be able to react within hours to trends. Consumers will love you for it.

Most consumers see the Fortune 1000 brands as boring, slow, and old-fashioned. If you can turn around a witty response to some event or newly emerged trend within hours, people will most likely be positively surprised. The challenge is such rapid response will be expected in both positive and negative situations. And whereas in the old days your PR and legal departments would need to review your responses, there'll be no time for such processes. You'll need to set up teams that can react instantly when required and show consumers your brand is an entity with opinions and confidence.

The brand manual can't do the work any more. One-way communication can't do it either. TV commercials are about to die. Print and radio are suffering immensely. The only steadily growing brand-building media is interactive. Two-way, multiway, reactive, responsive, receptive, and active communication is the future for brand communications. The consumer is ready to talk. Are you?

ClickZ Live New York What's New for 2015?
You spoke, we listened! ClickZ Live New York (Mar 30-Apr 1) is back with a brand new streamlined agenda. Don't miss the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will make you re-think your strategy and revolutionize your marketing campaigns. Super Saver Rates are available now. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Lindstrom

Martin Lindstrom is recognized as one of the world's primary on- and offline branding gurus by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He is the author of several best-selling branding books including his latest, "BRAND sense: Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound," published by Free Press. BRANDsense.com details information about Lindstrom's "BRAND sense" and the BRAND sense Symposium, a branding conference running in 51 cities in 31 countries.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Google My Business Listings Demystified

Google My Business Listings Demystified
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a new offering: Google My Business Locations. This whitepaper helps marketers understand how to use this powerful new tool.

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line
82 percent of shoppers say they would buy more items from a brand if the emails they sent were more personalized. This white paper offer five tactics that will personalize your email beyond the subject line and drive real business growth.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Lead Generation Specialist
      Lead Generation Specialist (The Oxford Club) - BaltimoreThe Oxford Club is seeking a talented writer/marketer to join our growing email lead-generation...
    • Health Marketing Editor
      Health Marketing Editor (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreCome flex your intellectual muscle as part of Agora, Inc’s (http://agora-inc.com/) legal team...
    • Technical Business Analyst
      Technical Business Analyst (OmniVista Health) - BaltimoreOmniVista Health is looking to add a Technical Business Analyst to our expanding team...