A professor at a university was saying recently how technology has forever changed the way brands interact with people.
Whereas in the past, the controllers of the brand (usually the marketing department), also known as the brand custodians, would create a brand message and put it out to the public (the so-called ‘inside-out’ model), today the customer almost has greater say over the way the brand is perceived because they control so many of the messages – or counter-influence a message that a brand is trying to convey (the so-called ‘outside-in’ model).
The biggest harbinger of change here has been digital technology, particularly the Internet and the cell phone – but most powerfully, a combination of the two.
Customers are always wired, with the ease of mobile technology, and they have no problem being vocal about something they don’t like about a brand. This usually relates to bad service, poor pricing (where they perceive something costs more than its estimated value), and other negative elements. Of course they may also praise a brand for its effectiveness in some way, but negative complaints outweigh positive ones.
The effect of this has been to turn the entire marketing fraternity on its head, and challenge and question conventional marketing theory. Today’s watchword is customer engagement, with two-way communication between people, not just brands doing all the talking.
Of course this is not news – this is a trend that has been developing for many years in the industry, but technology has augmented the speed of change.
No company can afford to not be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, at least. The jury is probably still out on the effectiveness of these media, especially the newer ones – but it’s better to have them than not, even if their presence has minimal effect on awareness of the brand.
Of course, a key element of contemporary marketing is authenticity. Technology forces brands to either be authentic or become authentic, from exposing something they did and then making them own up to it, to ensuring that they live up to their promises in true watchdog style.
It’s a brand-new brandscape…