You can’t avoid blogs. They’re so plentiful, and often so well-informed, the opinions they offer help form mainstream news reports. Given their potency, should blogs be adopted by brands as communication tools?
The marriage between blogs and brands is no longer a vision. Personality brands, such as Seth Godin and Tom Peters, already blog. Brands such as Weight Watchers, LEGO, Apple, TiVo, and Harley-Davidson not only appear frequently in blogs, they have their own dedicated blogs created not by their brand-builders but by their fans.
Control over brand messages is gradually being drawn away from brand builders and toward consumers. Should brands investigate publishing their own blogs to represent their points of view and personalities? Imagine Disney blogging about its characters, Nokia about its latest products, or Microsoft about virus issues. This could help brands get closer to consumers by reaching out to core fan communities. Exploiting this avenue takes commitment.
One problem for companies is writing useful blog posts. To do so, they must be flexible and react promptly. Companies simply aren’t armed with the flexibility and quick response time required to run a relevant, interactive, engaging blog. They’d risk producing one-page press releases rather than interactive, topical points of view.
In the future, brands will have to take quick action effectively. They’ll need to exhibit opinions fearlessly and share them with the world, meanwhile avoiding litigation and unhampered by risks. Yet companies tend to avoid political issues. Corporate entities feel obliged to clear their opinions with every quarter, eliminating all risk of offending any sensibilities. They thus sanitizing their view points into meaninglessness. Sterilization is death to the momentum needed to sustain and inject value into a blog.
Tomorrow’s brands must transgress today’s inhibitions. In many ways, this is the ultimate test for brands. It would reflect organizations’ confidence and coherence. It would demonstrate brand self-esteem and ownership that speaks for itself unhesitatingly, promotes opinions, and shares them in hours rather than in weeks or months. As manufacturers and retailers learned just-in-time thinking in the ’90s, brands will have to adopt a just-in-time ability to share information with consumers.
If brands don’t make this evolutionary leap soon, companies will be left behind. Consumers expect timely email responses and prompt order fulfillment. Brands need a holistic selling proposition (HSP) to deal with consumers holistically, to become part of the individual’s minute-by-minute experience of everyday life.
Companies are far from this point. An organization that enables true HSP branding — brands that can handle the blog challenge — requires dramatic structural, systemic, and communications changes.
Stay tuned. My next column will contain tips to prepare your company for the branding future; a future in which effective, just-in-time blogs are as natural and easy as press releases are today.
Meet Martin at the BRAND sense Symposium. Visit the Symposium site for cities and dates.
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