Everyone’s very quick to call almost any bad news another example of corporate scandals these days. We are in the grip it seems of “the outrage orchestra” as Chris Wren so delightfully describes it. Nevertheless, companies do get into trouble, and they emerge from those challenges in different states. Some seem to brush off what has happened while others falter. Why?
At a time when consumers continue to assume that brands will simply provide more, it may seem strange to suggest that brands should be more generous. And yet the case for brands delivering greater profits by bringing greater joy makes complete sense.
In an age where brands are increasingly seen as shared, companies can easily be lulled into treating social media as polling booths for their strategy. That’s not a good idea. However, there are times when you should respond to what is being said. The secret is knowing what to respond to, when and how.
Marketers talk a lot about the increasing personalisation that consumers are looking for in their interactions with brands. At the same time though, we know consumers seek endorsement from others on the good brands to be associated with and those that should be avoided. Interesting dichotomy. If you’re a brand manager, where do you invest your energies – products (as the means of those interactions), experience (as the memory of those interactions) or reputation (as the underwriter of those interactions)?
When I ask people “Which brands do you hate, and why?”, the names and the reasons for disliking said brand come back thick and fast:
The aspiration drive that has dominated how marketers think and what they strive to achieve in building a brand’s mythology is increasingly being seen by consumers as unattainable and fake. Buyers are drawing a line under what they perceive to be airbrushed brands. And the push-back is manifest in everything from the acceptance of imperfect food to the increased use of plus-size models on fashion house runways.
Marketers are under enormous pressure to get cut-through. Thing is – where’s the cut off point? How do you decide whether the claims you’re making are justified and how do you know you have pushed the boat out too far? Putting aside the legal considerations (not my space), here are four simple ways to filter what you should and shouldn’t say:
Brand trust resides in different places in different markets. The location and nature of that trust should directly influence how you compete.
Your word is your brand. Or rather, if the words aren’t right and your consumers depend on them for vital information, your brand will quickly find itself in the crosshairs of regulators, activist groups and annoyed consumers. The recent case concerning the contents of herbal supplements is more than an argument over percentages; at its core lies a simple question that underpins consumer trust.
Brand and reputation are tightly linked but not synonyms. I raise this because I seem to be having more and more conversations where brand projects are being renamed as reputation projects to make them more “palatable” internally. That in itself says a lot about what senior management think brand is and why they believe it’s not what they need.