by Kenneth Rudich
With the help of digital technology we’ve entered into an age of exuberant interaction, where almost everyone has a voice and information spreads both faster and on a larger scale than ever before — and not by just a little bit but exponentially so. To be sure, under the right circumstance this can be good for a brand; but under the wrong circumstance, it can be unforgiving and spread like a contagion. The bottom line is this: seldom does anything happen in quiet isolation anymore and no brand is too far removed from encountering a slippery slope of one kind or another.
This one dynamic alone carries tremendous ramifications for navigating the world of modern brand management. It has created what we call the mandate for a three-pronged brand management strategy.
Modern Brand Management
One byproduct of the exuberance for interaction involves the challenge of finding ways for getting people to genuinely care about a brand. They could be prospects, customers, stakeholders or anyone else of material importance. With exuberant interaction in the backdrop, it’s about leveraging the opportunity to forge an even stronger bond with them.
This task has turned into a three-pronged challenge:
- The first prong centers on striving to project an image or identity that will make the brand embraceable. It uses the enterprise’s internal resources to manufacture, influence and shape the brand narrative as it unfolds over time.
- The second prong focuses on how well the enterprise induces people to engage with the brand, particularly as it concerns influencing the influencers. This perhaps qualifies as the newest and single greatest challenge associated with modern brand management. For one thing, it has wrought a significant shift in the dynamics for crafting a brand narrative — not only does it wrest some control away from the enterprise, but it also hands a substantial amount over to those who are engaging with the brand. In effect, those that become engaged are, by default, co-collaborators in developing the brand narrative. What they say – directly, indirectly, purposefully or offhandedly — has the potential to stir a ripple effect that influences others, and it can be anywhere from small to viral in size. While the ideal objective for this prong is to win what is commonly referred to as brand ambassadors or brand advocates, the primary one is to avoid giving them any reason to do some harm to the brand.
- The third and final prong seeks to keep the first two in a positive and active reciprocal flow. Reciprocal means one feeds off of the other, so that they consistently build toward the common cause of enhancing the brand. This responsibility makes it necessary to always be mindful of the broader reputation being carved out by this interaction – to fuel it when they’re aligned and fix it when they’re misaligned. As always, the end game is to further solidify a brand’s good standing in the minds of those who matter most to it.
Successfully managing these three prongs can serve several key branding objectives:
- Deepen the perceived value of the brand by making it embraceable.
- Grow the brand by continuously expanding the circle of awareness, interest and acceptance (i.e., effectively influencing or stimulating the generation of positive chatter).
- Preemptively offset the severity of the fallout that can occur if there’s a stumble with the brand experience (i.e., making it easier for people to forgive and forget).