Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"You make me want to be a better...brand"

It's easy to get caught up in the web 2.0 technologies. Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, twitter etc are all intriguing and exciting. I suspect many brand managers are interested because their customers are online - so they want to be there too. And we're slowing coming around to understand that this is not about online advertising.

Brands can engage, talk with customers and become less 'faceless' as Rohit Bhargava talks about in his recent book "Personality not included".

These things are good in their own right and can only be good for customers. But from talking to colleagues and other marketers, I believe there is something bigger and far more important that results from using these new technologies...

'They make us want to be better...brands'.

All brands mess up at some stage. Remember that a brand messing up is usually the result of a person within the walls of the brand messing up. Yep, a human. And I think most of us understand this and are willing to forgive as long as the brand genuinely apologies, quickly fixes the problem and makes sure it doesn't happen again.

However in the past, many brands have gotten away with less-than-perfect service by hiding behind company walls. The reality is if they refund everybody, they lose a fortune. Sure they'll handle the most outspoken complaints, but for god's sake, keep it quiet.

Once a brand decides to embrace these new web 2.0 technologies, it needs to treat each and every online query or complaint quickly and fairly - while knowing that it might start an avalanche of similar requests for refunds or rebates.

This means new policies, new procedures and a new mindset. It means employees must be empowered to make the right decisions. And these are not always easy decisions. This is scary but is a good thing. And brands will become better for it.

There are lots of stories of how web 2.0 technologies have forced companies to become better brands. I'll post about them over the following weeks.

P.S. Even if a brand doesn't embrace these technologies, as long as its customers are using them, it will still need to become a better brand...

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