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BizReport : Advertising : January 06, 2011

Are brands giving consumers too much control?

Moving into the second decade of the 21st Century, many brands may feel they've turned a corner. With the advent of social networks, brands have more contact with consumers and therefore should have a better relationship. What many brands are doing, however, may take away their control over the image, products and even the branding of the company. That, of course, is not a road brands want to travel. How has it come to this?

by Kristina Knight

Much of the blame, according to a recent Kantar Media report, can be placed on social networks. In one case, the brand listened and may have done a disservice in the process. During the second half of 2010, Gap launched a new logo. The new logo was met with anger and frustration on social networks around the globe. Consumers didn't like the logo and didn't hide that fact. Soon after, Gap dropped the new logo and returned to the older model.

According to Gilles Deleris, co-founder of W&Cie, a brand consultancy, this was a wrong step for the apparel brand. "A company should listen to consumers, but not be controlled by them. It takes many years to construct a brand, of which the logo is an integral part. If you have a strategy in place, you should have the courage of your convictions. People are always wary of change, but very often the consumer will adapt over time."

With so many consumers on socnets, brands have much more to listen to. Happy comments, excited reviews, annoyed customers and jealous competitors can quickly become a lot of noise that brands aren't used to dealing with. So, they do what they can for everyone involved.

Experts agree that the key for brands in the social space is to listen and act. But constantly acting upon the majority opinion isn't doing the brand any favors. Instead, brands monitoring the social space and media need to have their position firmly in place. Changing a logo? It is the brand's choice and should be given a chance to catch on. Adding new products? Some consumers may balk, but given the chance they might like the new additions.

So, brands, have faith in your brand, in your consumer base and give change a chance to take root before you pull the plug.

Tags: brand advertising, brand decisions, brands, Kantar Media

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  • A slippery slope no doubt.

    Consumers are most definitely in control, the most successful brands will learn to understand the difference between brand management and brand stewardship and move towards the stewardship of their brands in concert with an engaged and inspired community.

    But agree that brands must have the conviction of their strategy and faith in their brand. However, they need to also have faith in their community!



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