Brands are, to a lesser degree than previously, able to control the different and multiplying consumer touch points. This is especially true as consumers engage across the digital platforms, prominently through search engines and social media. This means branding has found itself evolving into a new era characterized by brands having different and more authors than previously: the company, employees, consumers, distributors, competitors and many other stakeholders. They co-author a brand’s image thereby potentially challenging the original brand character.
Stakeholders have always helped to co-create a brand’s character. The new dimension is that the digital evolution is adding a new layer where stakeholders are more empowered to get themselves involved and to make themselves heard better.
Yet as with most threats, there are corresponding opportunities. There is nothing as strong as having engaged and enthusiastic advocators for the company and for their brands. But it also means companies have to be more careful in their actions and monitor consumer dialogues. Once in a while, companies and brands should be willing to voice their opinion and calibrate with the feelings of consumers, potentially directly in their digital social space.
As Asia is evolving from a state of under-capacity and focus on cost differentiation towards greater market maturity, a strong brand is increasingly a primary vehicle for ensuring a sustainable, profitable business. Brands are becoming one of the most important assets for business in Asia. In combination with the Asian leap frogging in Internet penetration and mobile usage, the challenge of branding is as pertinent in Asia as anywhere.
The Brand Diamond is a framework to understand how to build and maintain a strong brand in a multi channel, globalized world with empowered consumers and fierce competition.
The Brand Diamond helps brands to answer the questions: How does the business create and decide on the strategy of the brand; how it is communicated; and how it is positioned and aligned with the (digital) voice of the customer and the competitive digital landscape in the category.
In Vertic’s work with Martin Roll, we have identified several areas of imbalances, which brands and their owners must address carefully in order to compete more effectively. We found instances of imbalances between what consumers want as expressed in social media and search and how they are being addressed by brands. In turn, we found imbalances as regards the business strategy of the company, the vision for the brand, and how it is communicated.
The effective alignment of the market situation with these internally driven objectives of the brand is the intent of the Brand Diamond.
The Brand Diamond process starts by revisiting the business strategy. This process needs leadership from the top of the company. It starts with the board and the C-level suite headed by the CEO. Companies need to decide and agree on the vision for the company and the detailed strategy to get there.
The brand plays a key role in achieving the vision for the company both as regards the position in the market and how it is delivered to the consumer via a multifaceted communication platform. Next, you trawl social media and search patterns to get an overview of the digital voice of the customer. Subsequently, you match the voice of the customer against the digital presence of competitors.
Finally, it is the strategic and tactical alignment of the top and the bottom, which paves the path for a sustainable and strong brand. Asia has immense opportunities ahead to build and sustain strong brands, and the Brand Diamond is a possible framework for discussions and decision-making across Asian board rooms and C-level suites.
We will have evolved to a new definition of work – one that includes more digitally enabled decision-making.