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Monday

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Brands Are People Too

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by Brian Haven
@ 10:45 AM

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» Social Media

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So many companies have ventured into social media (and more will continue to) — Pete's already documented the efforts. But one of the biggest problems we see is that companies implement an initiative and watch to see what happens. And it simply doesn't work very well.


Think about what you would look like if you behaved like a brand. Imagine a party with a group of people standing together talking. You walk up, introduce yourself, and make a statement like, "Barack Obama has no right being our president." Then you walk away. Now, you don't know the political persuasions of the people you just uttered that statement to, but you can't just drop a bomb on a conversation like that and walk away.


Or imagine that you invite a bunch of people you know (some well, some not so well) over to your house for a party. When people show up the door is open, the lights are on, there are music and refreshments inside, but you are nowhere to be found. People might wander in to party anyway, but it just isn't the same.


It just happened recently. Pete's already on top of this Motrin situation, and David Armano has documented the the lack of response (or the default to an older channel to do so).


One of the core components of a social media strategy is to understand that brands are people too. Brands have to respond back and participate in the conversation. Employees will take the actions and interact, but that rolls up as an embodiment of the brand.


I think there are several key elements that dictate how brands must behave that defines their personification within a community. The relationships between brands and customers must be:

  1. Enduring — Social interactions aren't campaigns, these are relationships.
     
  2. Empathetic — Brands need to relate to, acknowledge, and react to its friends' needs.
     
  3. Mutalistic — This is a symbiotic relationship; both parties must benefit, not one at the expense of the other.
     
  4. Growing — The relationship must evlove over time, becoming something different and better.
     
  5. Understanding — You will disagree at times, but you must reconcile and learn from your differences and mistakes.
     
  6. Active — Conversations need to be frequent so you know what each other is experiencing (and so you can help each other).
     

My colleagues have already been talking about similar things. As Kate so aptly pointed out, I wonder what kind of identity crisis this will invoke. And I'll let Pete decide how this impacts the Ego Trap.

 

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Tuesday

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Larry Irons said:
@ 10:28 AM

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I totally agree with the point that thinking of brands as persons can provide useful insights and guidelines for relating to customers. Serendipitously, I posted the following last night:


"An experience design strategy that aims to increase brand loyalty and retain customers is more likely to succeed if it displays its own loyalty towards customers, and employees, in all its processes by consistently following through on its promises." There are also some useful techniques in Gerald Zaltman's book, How Customers Think, for eliciting what customers think brands think of them.


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Haven said:
@ 4:48 PM

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Larry, it's interesting we're thinking along the same lines. There are significant implications of what I said on design strategy and designing for experiences, as you've called out.


I think our next step is to start thinking about how existing organizational processes would have to change make this possible — and how can designers play a role.


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Larry Irons said:
@ 5:47 PM

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Haven, I totally agree with your point about the importance of existing organizational processes to the relationship between brands and experience design. I'm working on some ideas that may offer useful pointers on the topic and I'll post them soon. However, let me offer one point that speaks to the issue. The increasing use of social media in product marketing is, simultaneously, creating an organizational recognition that product design and service design complement one another as well as contributing overall to the brand.


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Mike Proulx said:
@ 2:44 PM

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Hey Brian – it really does come down to the basic building blocks of fostering relationships, doesn’t it?

Your 6 “keys” aren’t just useful (and extremely relevant) for brands behaving in social media, but also useful for all of us in behaving with our family, friends, and co-workers.

The problem is companies underestimate the time that’s necessary to fuel and energize their customer relationships, especially in Social Media.

As with any relationship, it’s a big commitment and commitments are hard work and long-term.


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Haven said:
@ 10:12 AM

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Thanks Mike, I agree. But you'd think after many decades of operations that companies would figure this out by now. It's interesting how distracted they get by meeting quarterly earnings goals and end up taking their eye off the ball. Thus, we all become their 'transactions.'


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