What trends will 2013 bring? The next stage in brand management systems will be exploiting social media and entertainment to inspire and engage those who steward brand identity.
In recent years, brand managers have been digging deeper and designing full marketing resource management environments. These enhance original asset management systems to allow users access to everything from guidelines, elements, tools and processes to budgeting and campaign management.
Once functional requirements are met, there’s an opportunity to go further. Brands can immerse users in an open experience from the first screen of the system, bringing the brand to life. This enhances the functional and task-oriented experience to a fully-engaged relationship with the brand.
A well-branded experience layered on top of a brand management system could simply be a page depicting official communications like recent advertising campaigns, employee interviews or interesting discussions about positioning the brand in local markets. It could also harness all the content brand advocates inside or outside the organization create.
Similar to a company’s Facebook page, the content could include member updates, ratings, brand-sightings and experiences. An app could allow enthusiasts to capture pictures or videos of the brand in the marketplace and post for review on the system.
Viewers could rate execution (on brand or not), ranking most popular or most current. Videos depicting personal experiences with the brand can generate inspiration to other visitors. Also, the company could use this feedback as ethnographic research and ideas for innovative product or service development.
A platform for exchanging “learning experiences,” those stories we generally wish to forget, could collect challenging in-person experiences in applying the brand in local markets or in staging events. Inaddition to supplying a vehicle for storyteller catharsis and visitor entertainment, this series could be instructional for others struggling with or embarking on similar journeys.
For the global brand manager, documented war stories add insight to problem areas. They also create opportunities to innovate, tailoring brand materials and outreach for specific markets.
Given that the rest of the system would house and promote official communications, material and guidance, a well-curated brand experience section should comprise just 20-30% official corporate communications. The majority should contain user-created content.
For the brave brand manager – the “brand experience” and a downloadable element gallery could be open to the outside world for browsing, co-creation and content supply. Many organizations already open access to at least some of their downloadable brand assets from their corporate website.
Open access acknowledges a loss of complete control over the brand, but capitalizes on the opportunities this presents. If the brand identity is going to be used outside of official company communication, it’s best to provide access to pre-approved material that is on-brand.
An open-access brand experience portal tests the brandpromise (not a bad thing necessarily). It gives the brand management team real-life insights and interaction to their most committed consumers.
Whether the site is open to a select group of brand stewards, or welcomes the world at large, there will of course be inappropriate, off-brand or even damaging material posted. Yet, if your brand is truly living its promise, clear and consistently, the message will prevail.
The experience the consumer has with a well-managed brand will transcend attempts to misrepresent or discredit. The efforts and enthusiasm of user advocates can make the strongest case on the brand owner’s behalf.
Robin Rusch is the CEO of BrandWizard.