Jeremy Owyang from Altimeter shared an interesting observation by diffrentiating three types of companies. Here is his post: http://bit.ly/rdB7Jp
I'd like to add an evolutionary perspective to his observation based on my experience of brand management.
The three kinds of companies he describes are based on perceptions and are also the three stages of development of a strong brand. There is an evolution behind what Jeremy observes.
The 3 stages are the following:
- Legitimacy: new comers entering a market have to be perceived as different but of quality. They won't be considered by consumers if they can't deliver the generic benefit of the category with a very different approach. iTunes did deliver music in a very diffrent way.
- Proximity: once considered by a few people, the brand has to decide how it wants to grow. Two options mass or niche market while still being different. In both case it has to attract the right prospects by building bridges ( relevancy, shared values and purpose) with them.
- Leadership: if it does well the brand will grow further and lead the market. The penalty of leadership is that it still will have to stay relevant there where most leaders rely on their laurels.
The three stages are also closely linked to awareness levels. And that's where social media bring some big changes in the way brands are managed. Let me explain.
In the past there was and still is a close and positive correlation between a brand's position in the market and its spontaneous awareness. The more brands are spontaneously known the higher their position in their market. The most known brands are #1 in their market and the second are second and so on. There are exceptions but only a few. I've reviewed more than 30 categories.
Today I'm absolutely convinced that share of market will correlate with share of conversations. The most talked about brands, the most engaging and collaborative ones will lead their market because that's how they get into the mind of people. Spontaneous awereness reflects how improtant and relevant a brand is to an individual otherwise he would just skip it from his memory.The likes, the followers, Klout scores are indications which are worthwile watching but they cannot help building a brand.
At every stage, social media are offering brand managers tools which other brands didn't have in the past. Let's look again at the diferent stages:
- Legitimacy : private and secured panels allow you to digg into what would make your brand relevant and you can do it in a colaborative way by involving prospects and or customers. Once involved, they will attract their peers and be committed to the promotion of a brand which did involve them in its launch.
- Proximity: based on the former step, social media allows you to know with whom and how to engage and expand your brand's fans rather than your page's fans.
- At the leadership stage, social media allows you to show the way and attract custmers and prospects into new thematic experiences our forums.
We, at Dialog Solutions , have developped tools, softwares and services which help achieving this by collecting deep insights and motivations, by engaging with best prospects and customers and the by amplifying what they think and endorse.
Each step is made easier but also tougher. Because brand awareness is not the only objective. In social media, the consumer is central and a strong brand equity won't make it. Because of social media, success and strong brands require:
- A strong brand equity : see above
- A strong value equity : how valuable is your brand, product and company for the consumer and the society he lives in ? How much do you derserve him? Transactions, contests, price cuts are not the only transactions they're looking for. Many survey show that this is what consumer expect on facebook but that's mainly because they haven't been offered anything else. Try co-creation, involvment, emotional transactions. Value will be a function of your product's ability to deliver and you ability to engage.
- A strong experience equity : a brand has to put its acts together by offering experiences which strengthen and endorse their value proposition.
As a summary and food for thought I think brand managers and marketers have to stop thinking in terms of Unique Selling Proposition.
Because products are not sold any longer, they're bought. But also because the social media will force companies to think in terms of Unique Brand Behaviour or Unique Social Purpose.
What do you think?