Brand Resilience 2 – social strategy and brand breadth

In Part 1 of three four posts on how social strategy enables Brand Resilience we outlined the "brand resilience model" which included the notion that Brand Experience comprised two components - Depth, and Breadth.

In this post we illustrate how Brand Breadth can be used to enhance Brand Resilience, including examples of how it could have been used in recent brand dramas. Resilience is the ability of a brand to withstand shocks and to maintain its value and customer loyalty during and after adversity. These days, having a strong social strategy is a key element of the ability to build resilience, whereas in the past it was necessary to rely on mainstream media Marketing and PR. McKinsey said recently, that “Push” marketing "has been subsumed by a complicated two-way relationship that begins well before a product is ever purchased and then continues indefinitely". We add that Brand Experience has been subsumed by a complicated multi-way relationship that begins well before a brand is experiences and then continues indefinitely! This is why Brand Breadth is a necessary new part of the equation.

In Parts 3 and 4 we'll explain how to use the Brand Resilience model in a brand crisis.

Recap the Brand Resilience model

Brand Resilience is a function of Brand Promise + Brand Experience (Depth & Breadth) + Brand Friction + Brand Stock.

We define Brand Experience as containing two components - Depth and Breadth. A marketing & advertising-led Brand Promise is only PR until it is “operationalised” – which is the Brand Experience. The Promise creates expectations of future value delivery, whereas the Experience is realised value. Where the Brand Experience fails the Brand Promise, or adversely reflects on the Brand or Brand Promise,  we usually say that the organisation lacks Brand Depth (examples are  given in Part 1).

Brand Depth represents the collective operational touch-points of the Experience. Brand Breadth is a new idea which embraces all the "non-operational" touch-points, and especially social media. This concept of Breadth is crucially important today for brands, because it has a significant impact on Brand Resilience.

Definition of Brand Breadth

Brand Depth is transactional. Depth represents the core delivery engagement with the customers, such as booking an airline ticket, travelling, collecting luggage, altering a booking, finding lost luggage etc. Depth is essentially transactional. But the concept of Breadth is focused on structural engagement not transactions.

Brand Breadth is structural. It encompasses all the social contact points with customers, and all their social contact points, and the level of engagement - think about an "engagement score" - which has been built up with those customers. It embraces the roles of social strategy, social architecture, and social governance, and ultimately social CRM and the socialization of internal systems and processes. In a nutshell Brand Breadth is enabled by the transformation to a social business.

A key component of ultimate Brand Breadth, but perhaps an overlooked one, is the ability to communicate with customers in the channels and times and formats - perhaps what we used to call the "protocols" - which they expect, nominate and are present. After all, for straight old-fashioned marketing we used to ask whether customers had a preference for email, fax or SMS, and in what order. We now need to know that about social. Knowing that, and using it wisely, will enable the ultimate delivery of Breadth.

Resilience and Brand Breadth Example  - Retaining brand value when the brand promise changes

JetStar All Day Every Day Low FaresWhen a brand promise changes, how do you retain the strength of the previous Brand Promise? How do you manage the risk of diluting both the old promise and the new promise and delivering on neither?

Think of Jetstar, the low-cost carrier of Qantas. When Qantas started Jetstar its advertising and messaging was all about low cost. No doubt, the costs were much lower than Qantas fares, and Jetstar not only grabbed a good share of that segment but helped expand the segment. The operational customer experience was OK. It was erratic and unpredictable at times, and at all points you were left in no uncertain terms by the staff that you were flying cheaply so get used to it, but the money saved generally made up for the supercilious service. In other words - Jetstar delivered on their brand promise.

Jetstar Low Fares Good Times Brand PromiseSome time ago I noticed Jetstar ads started saying "Where low prices are just the beginning..." wait, no! that was Bunnings wasn't it - Jetstar said "Low fares, good times" and a bit of blah about exceptional service etc.

Now think that through:

  1. Nothing has changed in the operational chain, has it? All that's apparently happened is a brainstorming exercise with our "creative" friends;
  2. The TV ads illustrate "Good times" as being the good times to be had at the destination, but Jetstar has no control over those;
  3. Brand Promise is now mixed, or could we say diluted, or perhaps more charitably "enhanced" - but with nothing but PR and advertising to back it up;
  4. The collective operational touch-points of Brand Depth haven't changed, in fact they've probably suffered because Jetstar staff have recently been striking in protest against management demands;
  5. So, the Jetstar staff aren't having any "good times", and in the service business that almost guarantees that the customers are not either.

Jetstar Sentiment Blogs Forums News 7-Feb-2012In fact, the "good times" may be a delusion. A quick bit of social research shows that over the last 6 months, in News, Blogs and Forums, the negative sentiment around Jetstar is quite strong - sitting at 27%.

If however, Jetstar had build on the idea of Brand Breadth from day 1, to develop a social strategy, a social architecture, a solid set of relationship-oriented engagements with its passengers and then used that to solicit brand extensions which aligned with the customer experience, then imagine the different outcome which may have been achieved. Perhaps they would not have even chosen the "good times" theme.

Here are some clues:

  1. It could have engaged with customers to learn of their perception of what extra attributes or value Jetstar was delivering beyond "cheap fares" - no "creatives" needed, just facts;
  2. It could have engaged with key influencers in the customer base to prototype, test, give feedback and spread the word about any brand extension; and,
  3. In fact it could have used the Brand Breadth that it might have nurtured to help mitigate the negative Brand Depth consequences from the staff industrial action.

Extensions of Brand Promise can place Brand Resilience at risk, and effect Brand Breadth can mitigate that risk.

More Examples - in Brief

Here are some general examples of how Brand Breadth can support Brand Resilience:

  • If a brand with a strong national flavor, which it has used in its branding themes, moves manufacturing offshore then existence of social touchpoints, and an aligned social strategy, would help get out the rationale, monitor the reactions, and help to underwrite the brand value;
  • If an organisation was facing a change of majority shareholder and the acquiring group was viewed negatively, hence potentially impacting on Brand Resilience, then an enterprise with a strong Brand Breadth would be able to gauge the resistance, the emotion, the issues, how that was being propagated, who was doing the propagation of positive and negative messages and be able to communicate with all stakeholders including staff to clarify the future prospects and brand position;
  • If an organisation had suffered some shocks in the market e.g. strikes, lockouts, Chapter 11, and IF it had effective Brand Breadth in place, it would be able to reach out to a wide range of opinions, facts, sentiment, customers, partners, influencers etc in order to judge the optimum channels, timing and campaigns it might want to run in support of the brand. Doing this, for example, would avoid the string of "Bashtag disasters" we have seen recently.
  • Perhaps even Zappos, rightly a poster child of social business, could have done better in using their Brand Breadth to manage their recent hacking incident as opinion among some well credentialed folk is mixed about how well it was handled - some complimentary although not all the comments, and some less so. Mind you, that's no small task when you have a customer list of 24 million, so some forward planning in crisis management is needed.

Having an investment in Brand Breadth provides a potential platform for not only product and service improvement, value creation, and brand extension, it is an underlying asset to be used in times of crisis and operational difficulties as we'll discuss in Part 3.

Brand Experience - Depth and Breadth - contributes to both Brand Resilience and Brand Friction. And in fact through the actions of Depth it provides a platform for further complementary reinforcement of Resilience and Friction via the influence and outreach of Brand Breadth.

What's your take on the concept of Brand Breadth - how useful?

What is your most striking example of how Brand Breadth many have helped Brand Resilience?

How do you see organisations embracing Brand Breadth - what are the key challenges?

Please comment below.

WalterA

http://xeeme.com/walter