To continue from the last post, Emma Gilding's group, Insite, at Omnicom sees brand as more than just another sales tool. Instead, the focus is on the ways in which brand encourages citizenship.
“Citizens opt into a brand's rules and regulations because they get benefits from adhering to them.” In order to sell, Emma believes that the product must fulfill its promise.
Emma often talks about her work in political terms. “Brand has to have a genuine value to citizens or they fail.
Before new technology, companies could get away with a top-down approach – people had to look to the governor of the brand for the value(s) of the product”. These citizens could never be sure if they were the only ones finding or not finding the value themselves.”
These days the Web forces transparency. There’s nowhere to hide. Consumer-led groups gather to hear from and tell each other about the value of the symbol.
If a brand is not persuasive, the product is no longer a symbol – it’s just a product. It won't distinguish itself among its competitors.
On the other hand, a coherent and responsive conversation between a company's brand and people they target is the only way for promises to remain credible.
Learning by Example
Perhaps the most famous illustration of a failure to really enagage with people who buy a product exists in the famous Mentos/Coke video. Mentos was thrilled and encouraged the distribution.
Coke, on the other hand, objected. Their brand stated “Coke is fun,” but executives put out the message that “this isn’t the sort of fun Coke means.”
“The citizens of the coke world spoke up – just like any civilization,” says Emma. “To them the explosion WAS fun.” In a democracy, if you deny the voice of the people, the brand fails -- or at least is weakened."
And no one will buy what you're selling.