Relinquishing the slightest bit of control over a brand, is a very difficult thing for most companies to do. Public Relations and even some Legal departments have a strangle hold on "brand integrity" so much so, that it can be depriving precious "oxygen" to the brains of the brand. In today's world, of new medium marketing in places like social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, forums & message boards and blog, keeping a death grip on your brand could be the worse thing you can do if you want to continue to grow your business online.
The internet makes it easier now, more than ever, for consumers to demonstrate their brand loyalty. Of course its also just as easy to show off how upset you are too, as I explained in the "Troll vs. Upset Customer" post from last week. So how is it that some companies can so easily "Let Go"?
Well, it's a change of thinking, and that's a definite culture shock for a lot of bigger companies, that's for sure. But it's also a change in acting, and communicating, basically it is a culture change from the very top that needs to be passed down throughout the company. These changes aren't done overnight, nor are they something companies can enter into lightly. It's also knowing just how much control to hand over to your audience or customer base. Companies cannot hand over full control of their brands to their audience because customers and audiences still need to understand what the boundaries are and still need to be guided.
|Take for example the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. While at the WOMMA WOMM-U event, I got the opportunity to learn a little more about the campaign. While I knew it was wildly successful, I didn't realize just how successful it was, and what a change in culture this had to be for Dove. Carla Hendra, CEO of Ogilvy, who's company filmed the "Evolution" Video and launched it out on YouTube, explained they learned a lot through this campaign, as well. The video itself cost very little to shoot and create, but in return it gave back millions in brand value.|
Not only was the brand value monetary for Dove, it was also huge in perception. Dove, mostly known for its soap, was the third most transformed brand in 2007 behind Google & Yahoo. Folks, this is a soap brand, soap is not sexy, soap is not tech, soap cleans your face! But here it is, Dove, ranking 3rd behind two "sexy" tech / web companies. That's saying something.
So how did this spread? Dove loosened their grip and allowed this video to be owned by the audience. Not only that ,they allowed themselves to have a sense of humor. By being able to do both, the rewards they reaped were beyond their wildest expectations. This goes far beyond caring about gaining a link, or a search engine ranking from social media sites, that wasn't even in their minds when this campaign was set loose on YouTube. What Dove accomplished by using Social Media to launch their Word of Mouth campaign is really at its heart what Social Media is all about.
Dove allowed users to be "Social" with the video, if you do a search for "Dove Evolution" on YouTube you see this video isn't in just the Dove/Ogilvy creator's account, it is many users accounts. If you add up all those accounts this video has been played more than 12.4 million times on the first set of results alone. Then you also have to remember, this is just YouTube. This video Dove made is also out on MetaCafe, Yahoo Video, AOL and several other video sharing sites. That's brand exposure and active engagement that no search engine result nor a commercial on the Super Bowl can give you.
Along with being free with the video in a manner that allowed others to "own" it in their video accounts, Dove allowed themselves to have a sense of humor. When the parodies started to appear, unlike James Blunt's record label squashing a Weird Al parody, they let the parodies remain. This only helped to strengthen Dove's public perception. When the "Slob Evolution" hit, this further strengthened the brand with pubic and just got the audiences talking all over again about Dove.
It's tough for big brands to release their death grip on their brands. It's scary and it's a culture change that can make any legal or PR team of these big brands turn colors paler than ghosts. However, in today's society with the internet, with the culture that has only just begun to form - customer can and do own your brand. It's only when brands wake up and realize these conversations are going on, become active in the conversation and loosen the death grip do the rewards come like they did for Dove.