Can a business or brand really become social?

Every day we have hundreds of “transactions” with many brands – seeing an advert, buying a product, reading a review. The value of those experiences either adds or takes away from the balance of our “account” for that brand.

Author of “The Social Brand” commented: “The idea is simple, the more a brand gives either through the product, service or marketing activation, the more positive the Brand Bank Account, which ultimately improves brand preference and loyalty.” Here’s how to make sure your customers are lining up at the till for your product.

1. The product

In marketing and business terms, your product is what you ultimately give. This is what people go out and buy and pay a certain price for. It is the first deposit on your Brand Bank Account. But products got pushed into the background during the marketing era.

Brands responded to the massive market competition and global reach of mass media in that era by creating beautiful worlds around their products and using advertising to drive that positioning home. Now, the superclutter and transparency of the social era will force you to return to the most important aspect of your business: your product.

2. To really deliver a Brand mission

Traditional positioning documents ask the wrong question in today’s social era, ‘what shall we make consumers think of us?’ rather than ‘what can we do for our customers?‘ It’s no longer about finding and communicating the right positioning; it’s about finding your brand’s mission and asking yourself how you can actually go out and make that mission happen. ‘Doing’ instead of only ‘communicating’. Doing something that matters for your customer (making deposits on his brand bank account) is the most powerful way to create a strong and lasting relationship.

3. Link your mission to your product

One of the key difficulties in creating a social brand is keeping your brand mission close to your product. The urge to create a beautiful social mission can be strong, but if it doesn’t link back to your product, it won’t build your brand or business as strongly as it could. 

These insights have been confirmed by research of over 250,000 people taking blind versus non blind taste tests executed by research partners OP&P; it has been proven that if you link your brand mission to your product in a credible and authentic way it can increase the brand’s likeability by 20 per cent.

4. Marketing Mix

People do not seek out the vast majority of current day marketing and advertising – they have to endure them. Traditional TV and online advertising as well as direct mail are considered a withdrawal in today’s marketing mix, something that disrupts people from something they enjoyed doing. 

And that it is through engagement programmes, content creation, social media, gaming, brand events to name but a few that deposits can be made in the Brand Bank Account. Whilst TV advertising has its role in mass awareness, the more deposits you make, the more you actually give, and the more loyal people are likely to be to your brand. 

The book highlights that giving marketing is not to be confused with corporate social responsibility (CSR), as the giving needs to be authentic to your brand or product, which doesn’t always tend to be the case with CSR. However, the shift to becoming a social brand could have an extraordinary benefit to people’s lives. 

The world spends roughly £358bn on advertising, the majority of which presents a form of ‘taking’ marketing according to the book. If brands could shift their bank balance to 50/50 then that would mean £179bn could be spent on giving marketing which has the potential to really enrich peoples lives. That’s about the same as what the worlds most generous country (US) gives away in philanthropy every year.

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