How To Manage A Brand Through A Crisis

It’s no fire drill when a company makes a mistake or has a product problem. Problems can destroy brand equity in days that took years to build. Today companies face even more pressure with instant video and instant video sharing and mass media outlets that run 24 hours a day. A company’s PR office must be ready to act decisively, the important of promptness cannot be undervalued.

Learning from the misfortunes of other companies is a great way to learn. David Liss wrote in an article on Brand Channel in 2002 that crisis management unfolds in six parts and I think these parts encompass the keys to maintaining brand equity: 

1 Corporate strategy that creates goodwill and credibility.

2. Imagine the worst and develop strategies to minimize the threats.

3. Build a crisis management strategy.

4. Respond to a crisis based on a predetermined blueprint.

5. Do not respond spontaneously without a developed game plan.

6. Use time as your ally to restore the brand.

These steps involve a lot of preparation and time spent envisioning all potential issues which include employee issues, product, terrorism, weather, disaster, etc. One the preparation is complete everyone in the organizational structure must buy into the plan or it will unravel and appear disingenuous. Follow these steps and your brand can recover quicker and retain more brand equity in most cases.

A brands position in the marketplace must also be considered. Take Apple as a case study. They hold a unique dominant position with majority market share with tech products like mp3 players and smart phones. In the last year Apple has had a major product issue with their iPhone 4 antenna and a consumer privacy issue with their disclosure of tracking systems on their phones. In both cases Apple managed to kill the majority of the press coverage by remaining silent until they could offer a thorough explanation and announce a solution at the same time. Many times companies come out and offer partial information not knowing the extent of the problem and then have to continue to retract and update as more accurate information is found. Apple carefully avoids this with periods of silence as long as 22 days until they have not only the facts but a solution.

The moral of the story; you cannot copy another companies plan. Each brand is unique in the market place and the 6 steps must be evaluated for individual brands.

Microsoft Continues to Build Brand Equity

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Knowing where a brand stands among its competition and other business is important information for marketers. As such there are a number of reputable agencies that publish brand rankings and Interbrand is one study that is well done.  There are three key aspects to the methodology that Interbrand uses to calculate the list of best brands; “the financial performance of the branded products or services, the role of brand in the purchase decision process, the role of the brand in the purchase decision process, and the strength of the brand to secure earnings for the company.” (The Standard. September 21, 2010) This is important for marketers and companies to know where they rank because improving brand equity increases financial value.

Microsoft brand has maintained a third place ranking. In 2008 Interbrand’s study listed its brand value at $59 billion (Trosclair, C. September 29, 2008) and in the latest 2010 study Microsoft retained its third place position. Microsoft is a very diverse company with many consumer and business to business products. Despite its growth and large share in its product segments Microsoft puts out products that create backlash with consumers and with many global lawsuits it is a company with some rough edges. Not to mention a number of failed projects like the Windows phone.

To understand why it retains its high ranking on the Interbrand studies it’s important to note exactly what is being valued; the impact brand has on the value of the company. Consumer sentiment is not one of valuations of the study. Microsoft performs very well in most of the segments it competes in and has been an industry leader with many core products that drive corporate America. Despite Apple’s success with reaching creative and media agencies, you don’t see many Fortune 500 companies running Apple platforms, they run Microsoft Windows, Office, and Microsoft Outlook just to name a few. Microsoft products play a large role in consumers’ minds during the purchase decision process. Manufacturers know this; it’s why every computer other that Apple comes preloaded with Windows and other Microsoft programs. So the brand can be worth so much because of what is being measured and the impact the brand has on the consumers purchase process.

Building A Social Community by Giving Away Your Intellectual Property

Intellectual property rights are important whether your writing a book, a magazine article, or publishing a presentation online via a social platform. Laws will continue to evolve to protect people’s work in cyberspace but there are always going to be people out there looking to take someone’s ideas and use then as their own without assigning proper credit. So we should do everything we can to protect our work in digital space right? Track down the people pirating our work and prosecute right? In most cases the answer is yes but Radiohead provided an interesting case study recently where they did a great job building their social community by offering their product and letting consumers decide the value.

In 2007 Radiohead launched their “In Rainbows” album online which is normal in the music industry, but the band allowed consumers to pay what ever they liked. They put the trust in the consumers hands. At the time it was called a changing point in the industry and while we have not seen bands flocking to give away their music I think Radiohead demonstrated something interesting.There are many social communities online where people discuss and share info about Radiohead and the band has done a wonderful job participating but not coming down heavy-handed on fans when it comes their intellectual rights. This culminated in a such strong relationship with their fans that the band was able to trust in releasing this album and letting their fans control the purchase price.

The marketing lesson here is that when building a brands social community its alright to let the fans take charge. Intellectual property rights in cyberspace are very important but look for creative ways to let your social community use your info or product in creative ways to build a real connection with the community.

Can Social Media Replace Traditional News Outlets?

TV news is becoming increasingly more about infotainment. News programs dominate 24 hours a day and spend much of the time discussing opinions of  events with “experts” (until the end and you find out the expert is there to promote a book they just wrote or a blog they currently write). Advertorials are not uncommon as product placement in news happens all the time. Ever see a news story start and then get told it will be finished or discussed in more detail on another show on that channel? I’m sure most people have. News on social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter trends like wild-fire. Videos from people involved in the news are posted immediately to You Tube. There is something very exciting about being able to see and hear what is happening without al the news program opinions.

With this thought in mind I experienced a little bit of the power of news through social media myself. Today’s post comes straight to you from Oahu, Hawaii. Sitting from a balcony overlooking the beautiful beach and ocean all appears calm. It was not too many hours ago this was not the case. As a major earthquake destroyed parts of Japan it set off Tsunami Warnings on the islands of Hawaii. Traditionally one turns on the news and watches intently to see what is happening, where evacuations are taking place, and other key information. But social media is changing news. As my wife and I enjoyed sitting on our balcony I checked into Facebook just before bed only to read about the earthquake and Tsunami warnings. A call to the front desk confirmed we were under a warning and were to remain in our quarters until further notice. Throughout the night and early morning we turned to our social networks to inform friends of what was happening, make sure they knew we were safe and give them info on what was taking place. As national mews organizations used strong language like “devastating Tsunami heading for Hawaii” we gave our followers and friends the real news of what was happening.

Social media holds strong potential to be a go to source for people on news events because unlike national news programs who have to play up stories to increase audience size (because that’s what brings in advertisers and pays the bills) the social media network of platforms can spread information virally to who ever is looking for it. We were able to find out ocean information, evacuation status, damages, and more information all from social platforms.

The marketing take away here is that social platforms do not have to just be about promotion. They can also be effectively used to spread information that people might find useful. This builds your brand as a credible source.

iPod Touch, Xoom, Laptop, Evo Smartphone packed and ready to travel.

I’ve traveled for work and pleasure for a number of years now and it sure has changed. Of course the airport security and airplane food have changed, those are the obvious one.  Returning from CA this past week it hit me how my mobile experience has changed the way I communicate while I travel more than I ever realized. I guess it snuck up on me!

As I arrived at the airport I headed straight to security. Did I print my boarding pass in advance at the hotel? No that was last year. Now I check in on my iPod Touch via the airlines app. I hand my device to the security guy who scans it and hands it back. I then empty my pockets. No coins or keys, just electronics. Putting my Xoom, laptop, iPod, and cell phone into the bin I had to pause and ponder what this says about me.  I proceed to spend my waiting time logged into work emails via my laptop and checking for new Xoom apps. Once on the plane and in the air its time to set up mobile command center. Breakout the laptop for a little work. How? simple, the plane has WiFi and in seconds I am bo

th working and playing on the Internet and my email. I even checked in on Foursquare and got awarded a prestigious badge for checking in while flying!

Not too shabby. After the laptop starts to die it’s onto the Xoom for a little movie watching and then time to break out the iPod for a little music to finish the trip.

It’s strange to think of the days when all I could do was sit there and read a paper or maybe write some notes on paper. Do they even make pens and paper anymore? (sarcasm) This is definitely a level of connectedness I have not had before. The jury is still out on whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing but one thing I know is I will not be going back to just reading a newspaper.

The marketing take away here is that with all the mobile device options available the consumers level of connection can almost never stop. They might search for your product at 30,000 feet, or on a tablet, or mobile phone. Companies must be prepared to display their information, goods and services in all these mediums while keeping irritations to a minimum. Being effective with your message means having your message work on all these devices all the time.

Buick in Mobile Advertising? Not Your Grandparents Car Anymore

Mobile advertising is an exciting all new platform that will be growing for years to come as marketers have the chance to explore its potential as a marketing tool. Mobile marketing can provide a rich and personal experience for a user which is why marketers are drawn to this medium as part of their integrated campaigns. Many strong examples of immersion mobile ads are out there. Apple and other mobile ad producers view mobile advertising as the ability to tell a story like on television but with the rich experience of digital. Greystripe, a startup in the mobile advertising would, produced a mobile advertising immersion campaign for the Buick Lacrosse. The campaign included a custom, interactive, branded application within an ad. While mobile ads can come in a number of formats like traditional banner and smart phone expandable, this ad was full screen.

Of all the mobile ads, who would guess that Buick would come out with a rich unique advergame experience. Once the app game the user is playing ends the user is prompted to “try again”. Once clicking to “try again” they see the Buick Lacrosse ad which lasts a few seconds and then opens a second Buick page which invites the user to play a game featuring “Stabilitrak”, one of the cars safety features. The user then sees the underside of the car and plays a “Simon Says” game. The impact is very strong at building recognition of the Buick Lacrosse and its key safety feature. Greystripe reported exceptional results which support the ads impact. Greystripe reported a 21% lift in awareness for users exposed to the ad, 35% lift in purchase intent, and a 53% recall of the mobile campaign. Those that interacted with the mobile ad spent an average of 2 minutes and 42 seconds engaged with the advertisement and game. 

Buick addressed multiple branding needs with this mobile ad and in ad game. The brand lifted awareness, purchase intent, and had strong consumer recall, all of which are key elements for Buick for a national branding campaign. The campaign reported a 3.7% CTR which a strong measure of its effectiveness. Typical automotive mailers done for branding generate a 0.5% to 1.0% response rate from consumers. The mobile branding effort can be viewed as more effective than television because of the data that is produced and tracked during the campaign. Television and other traditional mediums lack the immediate tracking mechanism that mobile advertising provides is a huge advantage. Nice job to Buick on this campaign.

Media Multi-Taskers and Live Events: Tips For Creating Convergence

Its not just TV any more

Multitasking is something that people do all the time. Its listed in every job description, “must have ability to multi task.” We see people doing it all the time and we don’t even notice it, but savvy marketers are beginning to notice and more will learn to notice as we grow into our social mobile multi tasking. Maybe this is you; phone beside you while you sit on the couch with your laptop or tablet with the TV on in the background. Millenials and Baby Boomers are all soaking up media time, there just doing it in different ways. I’ll use my mother and myself as the case study. My mother will sit and watch hours of TV and record shows to watch later. I typically have my laptop humming away, while I’m on the phone, and ESPN in the background just in case some big sports story breaks. The amount of screen time is the same, it’s just done on different devices and simultaneously.

We have seen companies take advantage of this for years (think GoDaddy.com), but each year more and more companies are getting the message. Big names in big places! A great marketing approach which generally means focusing a campaign around a major event like the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, or the Olympics. It does not have to just be huge million dollar national events. companies can use the same basics for large local events with major TV coverage that are held live. With he evolution of smart phones, laptops, and tablets, people have the ability to see an ad and simultaneously begin to look up the company, chat about it, and interact socially sharing thoughts on Facebook or Twitter or going to those companies social pages. This is a great opportunity for marketers and anyone that loves instant gratification! This level of interaction requires a much more detailed approach to integrating different marketing elements.

Here are my 5 keys to creating good convergence:

1. Integrated Marketing Communication Plan – A TV campaign during a big event must have a web site and social media sites ready to greet consumers. A TV ad during a live event no longer should just talk at consumers, it should begin the conversation.

2. Make Content Mobile – Just having a web site that integrates the same message as the TV ad campaign is not enough, have a mobile version ready, have additional mobile content available, and push consumers to get more information and follow your conversation on networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

3. To be Continued – Continue the story, product information, or company message online. Give the viewer something that makes them want to reach for their smart phone and visit your site.

4.  Set The Right Goals – Do not be short cited in planning. web site and mobile views and hits immediately following a TV spot should rise dramatically, but plan the campaign around how long this is sustained. If nobody checks you out the day after, you missed!

5. Get Consumers to Take Action – Media multi tasking while watching TV allows consumers to take action right away. Make sure your set up to handle it. Now would not be the time to have your online ordering system go down!