Last week’s ADWEEK magazine had an interesting set of results from an industry survey about the evolving branding world. The respondents were both from the agency side and the client side. Among the most interesting was the response to the query “Should the [brand] message be controlled?” 51% of marketers believe it’s really important to understand how to control the message as much as possible. And 49% of marketers believe that companies must learn to surrender control.

I see an interesting subtlety that was not put forth from these numbers. That while smart marketers understand that in today’s social and WOM environment, surrendering control of the message is truly not an option—it will and is happening—that doesn’t mean we need to surrender control of the brand. That’s a big difference. The marketplace will talk—but a good brand will also. And while marketers can’t control the talk, they can be very vigilant in setting the tone for conversation. By being true to their brand promise; by letting the brand experience be all that is expected; by ensuring clarity and consistency of messaging; by standing for something—often times something greater than their brand (CSR anyone?).

And to emphasize that idea even further, another survey question categorized the top two responses to the greatest impacts on long term strategy as:
1) Focusing on the entire user experience
2) Thinking about branding more holistically

And while they didn’t draw any conclusions, I believe this truly reinforces the belief that an organization-wide understanding of your brand is imperative. Which means marketing must shape and give voice to that brand in a very realistic, meaningful, relevant and palpable way. That is our new priority.

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