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All Your Brands Are Belong To Us

Last week I was contacted by Superbrands. The company that releases a book with the same name. I was asked to write a post on their blog about Branding. I know I’ve got some followers interested in that subject so I’ve decided to post the same article here too.

Back in 2000 a flash based message containing the phrase ‘All your base are belong to us’ spread like wildfire through emails and internet forums. Back then most of you had probably not heard about viral marketing, web 2.0 and social networks. Facebook and Twitter were still 6 years away from being established and most brands didn’t bother to much about digital marketing.

All-your-base-are-belong-to-us

About the same time Nike took their first stumbling steps towards a digital brand strategy. Back then Nike would probably not know that their global strategy would be a virally driven online content strategy but the first step taken with Nikefootball.com, that I personally took part in initiating, was a clear step in that direction.

Now, 9 years later when the internet, web 2.0 and social media are well established, Facebook has got +300 million members and Twitter is reckoned to be one of the most important conversation platforms when it comes people driven brand impact. I think we can all agree that the world has changed and so has brand strategies although most companies don’t really get it yet.

So, the title ‘All your brands are belong to us’ has a double meaning cause back then in 2000 when that wildfire started it also marked the day you lost control of your brand. Today that fire is burning faster than ever and there’s really nothing you can do to stop it except but getting used to being burned while fighting for your lives.

It’s time to move. In order for you to continue to build your brand value in the future you’ve gotta revamp your strategies and adapt them to the future of communication.

Here are 10 strategies you’ve got to adapt to the next couple of years if you’re planning for your brand to stay on top!

future-brand-value-strategy

1. From Brand Promise to Brand Fulfillment

You might have set out to deliver services and products that create some sort of value for a large consumer base. All of your branding activities focus on telling your story. What makes your brand unique, what’s your unique, emotional and even archetype selling points. Shortly. What’s your brand promise?

Now in a world where all information is accessible on the fly. Consumers share experiences on comparison sites like Pricerunner, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Personal blogs and Getsatisfaction. People even post sites about brands they like and dislike.

In this world there’s no more room for brand promises only brand fulfillment. Honesty comes first. Do what you say and you shall be the one.

2. From Offer to Interactivity

If you’re one of those brands that still spend tons of time drawing up strategies on how to approach the market with new offers, new products and services then you’ll see your brand fall within the next couple of years.

Instead, learn from brands like Starbucks, Dell and not the least Zappos. These brands have moved into the future of product development.

What Dell has done with Ideastorm.com and Starbucks with Mystarbucksidea.com has not only turned their brand around but also enabled them to deliver products and services they know their customers want. After all they’re the one that have suggested them. Zappos strategy in moving from a shoe store online to simply deliver better services, or ‘Power by Services’ as they say, has earned them an unmatched loyalty. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih has got more than 1.4 million followers on Twitter!

These brands understand they’re not owning a one way channel straight into the heart of consumers. Love goes both ways!

3. From Control to Transparency

About the same time that viral flash video was circling the web I also started a website called Kaminsky.com. It was sort of an early version of YouTube but it focused on movie trailers and advertising. However after only 8 month we had to close the site down cause we were being threatened to be sued by Brindfors, at the time one of Sweden’s leading advertising agencies. Why? Well, the reason was cause someone had uploaded a TV commercial Brindfors had created for Scandinavian Airlines. Can you imagine something like this happen today?

In another example Pepsi gets a beating on Twitter by @christinelu for posting an ad in German magazines.

pepsi_christinelu

When Pepsi pulls back their advertising immediately as a response to what @christinelu Tweets it’s a clear sight these large brands have understood the power of asynchron networks like Twitter where information spreads faster than ever before.

christinelu_pepsi

You simply cannot ignore conversations that regard your brand anymore. Dominos Pizza obviously has taken this into account when they’re speeding up the process of replying to a consumer called @interactiveamy on Twitter. Amy Korin who had some problems with her Pizza Delivery earlier this year got answered within 24 hours. A video apology from @Ramon_DeLeon quickly solved the situation.

So where does your brand stand in all this? You ready for transparency or still believe hiding information is the way to go? Do you know what people are saying about your brand?

4. From Stability to Adaption

Open Source and democratization of technology is turning the world upside down. The music and travel industry has already been hit bad. Traditional mobile companies like Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola are all getting beaten by Apple, Google and soon Microsoft. 3D printers is available today from $14.000. Within 5 years time you’ll be able to print LEGO in your home for the cost of a printed paper. If LEGO owns the 3D model or not remains to be seen.

When it comes to systems development we’re seing tons of new applications and webservices that are based on Open Source platforms. WordPress for bloggers, Joomla for communities, Magento for e-commerce and Drupal for overall site building are only a few examples. PHP and MySQL is driving change in a speed we’ve never seen before.

The brands of tomorrow will be all about adaption. So companies that turns change into status Q are the brands that will live. Brands that spend their time protecting existing products will be passed by smaller, more agile and more innovative brands. Brands that change will stand the test of times.

5. From Monopoly to Creative Execution

Nothing can be owned. The only competitive edge you’ll have in the future is creative execution. Consumers of tomorrow might try out relations because of monopoly. However, it’s a very risky position to take as we’ll be open to switch the second a new player comes along. And as I stated above – the democratization of technology will drive change, so staying ahead will be harder and harder. Instead focus on building fans through your creative execution. How do you package your products and services. How do you communicate. How do you entertain us. How do you stay fun to be with. How can you make our day better. Focus on the values that makes us talk about your brand – in a positive way.

6. From Brand Positioning to Perceived Brand Positioning

Following transparency is our perceived view of your brand. This means when we search for a brand, and that’s what +80% does before entering a relation with a brand, our point of view is primarily based on what other people say about your brand – not what you say.

conversation_sociala_media

Brian Solis social flower. Is your Brand out there yet?

You can spend as many millions you want on positioning your brand through traditional media. But if you don’t engage in conversations, provide us with distributed marketing, content and applications your brand will be positioned through the voices of millions of people online – and they’re not paid to position your brand the way you want. They position you any way they like.

So. Start question if you really ought to spend all that money on traditional media and instead think about moving it over to digital presence. Then we might do you right!

7. From Product Development to Fan Based Innovations

Threadless.com. They’re selling T-shirts online. All T-shirts are made by their visitors. Their selling like hell. Yamaha have already tried out fan based industrial design. As we learned above Dell and Starbucks asks their fans – What shall we do? And all of these brands do it in the open.

Reach out and deliver tools that let the fans you have create your future products and services. Believe me – you’ll be amazed how many people are prepared to help you.

8. From Structural Bindings to Trust

Bankers and Telco’s all talk about how to structurally bind clients to their products and services. What they’re saying is basically “Our product is so shitty so once we’ve sold it we’ve gotta glue people to it, otherwise they’ll leave”.

Future brands are built on relations, trust and loyalty. If you do bad you deserve bad. If you do good you’ll deserve good.

9. From Marketing to Entertainment

Tick tock tick tock tick tock. Can you sense it.

The pure thought of a time makes people stressed. Time is the most precious thing we have and yet brands are wasting it.

In a recent global study I was involved in we identified four factors that matters to guys and girls in the age-span 18-25. The study was performed in so called style cities – New York, Rio De Janeiro, Stockholm, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong etc.

Innovation, entertainment, interactivity and creativity. The two that stood out the most was entertainment and innovation. One kid said – “I’m bored so if I’m supposed to choose a brand I choose the one that entertains me and ad something to my life” A guy in Tokyo said – “If I’m supposed to show up with a pair of new sneakers to school I’d like them to be different than anyone else’s”

Your brand has to stay on it’s toes. If your into making cars you’re not only competing with other car manufactures, you’re competing with time to. If I am to interact with any kind of communication coming out from your company it better live up my day. If not I’ll go somewhere else!

10. From Customers to Followers

I’m not your customer. I’m temporarily following you. The second you show me disrespect I’ll follow someone else. Cause change is only a click away. In the pursuit for new customers Banks, Electricity Companies, Telcos, Car Dealers and many more have all made switching brand easy. A phone call and the Bank take care of the entire process.

However today we’re seeing this being moved over to digital. Head into Compricer and compare your bank, insurance company or Telco provider and you can change faster than your bank man says ‘Ho ho’.

In this world you have to start respecting your clients for what they are – temporary followers that will stay on as long as their relation to you is good. The second it turns bad they’ll leave without saying good byes – case we all hate good bye’s don’t we?

Your Future Brand Value then?

To sum this post up. What you’re looking at is a brand new world where information flows free. Whatever you do will become transparent. You’re loosing the competitive edge based on physical innovations and ideas, intelligence and innovation will prosper. Loyalty is no longer based on structural bindings and price. The consumer of tomorrow values sustainability, freedom of choice and humbleness.

What ever you do, you can expect a global competitor that can deliver their products and services from anywhere in the world. Personally I use a computer I bought from the states. My mobile was bought in Hong Kong. My software’s are all bought online from abroad. My backup service is located in the States. Hell, even my notebook was ordered from abroad.

Brands that can translate these changes in how people consume information are the winners. Brands that try to protect what they have, not opening up and milking every last penny out of that old cow of yours will be the losers.

If you don’t adapt – All your brands are belong to us!

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  • http://bjornalberts.com Björn Alberts

    I few days ago I saluted your letter to CEO's as one of your best post ever. I think you might have done it again. I really enjoined this post. This is exactly what students at communications educations need to learn and what management teams at companies should beleive in. “Ronnestam's 10 commandments for brands”

  • ronnestam

    Oh thank you my good friend! It means a lot coming from you!

    (it's scary to shout loud but this kind of feedback ads confidence)

    ronnestam.com
    Leading brands into the future of communication

    Johan Ronnestam
    johan@ronnestam.com
    mobile: +46 70 654 90 10
    Twitter: ronnestam

    For insights into the future – read my blog http://www.ronnestam.com

  • Matthieu Hartig

    a very good summary of well-proved and established truths about branding in 2009 … the kind of text to be used as reference on the subject.
    you've really spoiled us, Johan :) now we expect only the best from you.

  • ronnestam

    Oh. Matthieu. It's you that is spoiling me with your comment!

    Thank you!

    ronnestam.com
    Leading brands into the future of communication

    Johan Ronnestam
    johan@ronnestam.com
    mobile: +46 70 654 90 10
    Twitter: ronnestam

    For insights into the future – read my blog http://www.ronnestam.com

  • http://www.alexanderdrewniak.com drewie123

    I commend you. Amazing job!

  • ronnestam

    Thank you Drewie!

  • Nick Wreden

    Excellent post and dead on — with one glaring exception. That's in “positioning” to “perceived brand positioning.” You are absolutely correct when you point out that consumer control of brands effectively kills the 1970s-era theory of “positioning.” But “positioning” has so many other problems. It's unmeasureable (can anyone say, “our positioning has improved 7% from last year.” It's meaningless to customers, and if it has no value to customers, why should it have any value to you. It has no organizational value. If I say, our positioning is thus, what guidance does that give operations or manufacturing? And I could go on….

    Instead of “perceived brand positioning,” I'd say something like “move from top-down, corporate-driveing 'positioning' to a co-equal conversation.

    But again, brilliant post, except for this one stumble into the conventional wisdom of the 90s.

  • ronnestam

    Nick!
    Thanks so much for your feedback and obvoiusly also your wow's!

    You're of course right that it's unmeasurable. But wouldn't you say brand and marketing managers tend to talk about how they intend to position their brands even though it's not anything they can control?

    Anyways. I do agree that it might be a blurry way to say it. But the point was to make people aware that they don't own positioning at all. So maybe killing the word positioning is the right way to go about it. That one should maybe have been a blank space then :)

    Cheers
    J

  • http://www.persvarld.se/ Per T

    Great post (again): thanks alot!

  • ronnestam

    Ah. Thank you Per!

  • http://www.persvarld.se/ Per T

    Great post (again): thanks alot!

  • ronnestam

    Ah. Thank you Per!

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