Brand image is important to all companies and for some companies it’s everything. It can take years to build up but minutes to destroy.
As a famous brand image example: in the UK the expression “doing a Ratner” is still used over 15 years. Gerald Ratner wiped £500 million off the value of the jewellery brand with an ill-judged speech in 1991.
In many ways, the damage G. Ratner did to his brand image was a reflection of the internal corporate identity at Ratners. When the most senior member of the company clearly worked on the assumption that his customers were a bunch of fools, the company’s internal corporate identity became public, and, the impact was devastating.
Time can be a brand’s most precious resource
Ratner’s behaviour has gone down in branding infamy for a number of reasons and it’s still a useful point of reference for both companies and individuals today. The huge irony of this story is that, at this time, Ratner had plenty of time to prepare exactly what he was going to say well in advance. Medias were not as interactive as they’re now.
Modern social media teams are expected to provide rapid responses to messages from customers/followers and may also be expected to try to exploit topics which are trending on social media in a strategy known as newsjacking.
Making the most of news headlines can be an epic win or an epic fail
Newsjacking can be a very high risk/high reward strategy. The Oreo brand continually wins industry plaudits for its creative use of social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram. On 3rd February 2013, they capitalized on a power outage at the Superbowl by sending out a tweet with a picture of an Oreo cookie and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark”. This message was retweeted over 13,000 times in just the hour after it went live. In fact it’s arguably a whole lot more famous than Oreo’s (probably multi-million dollar) advert in a paid advertising slot in the Superbowl.
That tweet arguably set the standard for newsjacking success, but a quick search on the term “newsjacking fail” will bring up plenty of examples of times when companies got it (very) wrong and paid the price for it. These examples should serve as meaningful warnings as to what can happen if companies behave in an offensive manner (even if the behaviour is intended as a joke, humour is very subjective).
Effective brand image strategy involves more than just avoiding stupid mistakes. It means positioning your brand in such a way that it is aligned with your customers’ values and beliefs.
In today’s world, your strategy must be an authentic reflection of your identity
Terms such as brand strategy and positioning may suggest that the best approach is one in which you decide upon a target market and then think about how to make your products and/or services seem appealing to them. There is still a certain level of truth in this, however, the Internet has made it much easier for customers to learn when companies are applying double standards. Facebook for example, recently got into hot water when it came to public notice that it has repeatedly censored pictures related both to breast cancer, breast feeding,… But permits pictures of topless men.
There is likely to be only one successful approach to branding from now on.
Individuals and companies must decide what their core values and beliefs are and live them in everything they do. Their brand image strategy and all promotional activities must be a sincere and authentic reflection of who they are.
Of course, it is still important to have high-quality products and services. But the factor which differentiates you from everyone else is not what you sell, it’s who you are.
This means that anyone who has a brand to manage needs to get out into cyberspace and start connecting with their customers where they are.
It’s vital to get into cyberspace and spread the word about your brand #SharingIsCaring
Having a website is basically no longer a nice extra, it’s a must-have. Even if you’re on social media as well (which you should be), you need your own digital home and it needs to be full of engaging content.
Just remember, you have two ears and one mouth, so make sure to listen at least twice as much as you talk.
On that note, the days of 300-word SEO articles are all but over. Google is doing everything it can to reward those who create meaningful content and, contrary to what is often believed, longer-length content is often very much appreciated by users.
As well as producing engaging content, brand management is also about getting onto social platforms and engaging with people.
If they are talking about anything to do with you or your brand, your products or services or even just the general area in which you operate, you want to be part of that conversation.
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# Brand Identity Best Practices
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