Snapchat helps brands showcase their personality, facilitates matching of personality of consumer and brand, increases levels of engagement due to intimate communication channelRead more
In recent decade we experienced a tremendous shift in social media as well as in its usage. One of the primary objectives of social media is to increase brand awareness through building stronger relationships between companies and customers (Hening-Thurau, Hofackerm, Bloching, 2013). However, due to the consumer empowerment, and rise in social and political awareness within society, social media platforms are used not just to show the loyalty and love for a brand. It is as well a tool which allows to express and share disappointment, unethical actions of the company, organize boycotts and spread the word of hate within the society. Such negative word of mouth (WOM) distributed within different platforms could be very harmful for the brand. However, empirical studies and Apple Inc. case showed that anti-branding does not necessarily harms brands. If company manages them well, it can be converted into valuable information source for future development of the brand.
Based on the previous discussion about and comparison of the two concepts of exclusivity paradigm and the open source character of social media, the maintenance of exclusivity while opening their communication to millions of users emerged as main challenge for luxury marketers. As mentioned before, luxury marketers have pursued a very exclusive communication strategy targeting their consumers directly. By using social media this exclusive communication and targeting is watered down. This development is one of the most significant paradigm shifts within their history (Costa and Handley, 2011). Now every user can communicate on the brand publically.Read more
Social media has significantly restructured the communication of companies - influencing organizations, the consumer and brands all around. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram together register more than 2.7 billion active users who spend an average of 2.4 hours daily on these platforms (Adweek, 2014). This corresponds to 39% of the world’s population – illustrating the immense power of online users. Consumers are no longer search for information passively; they actively create content and moderate discussions on brands (Hanna et al., 2011). Nowadays, we are living in an era where corporate communication is democratized as the power over communication has shifted from organizations to consumers (Kietzmann et al., 2011). Brands had to realize that online branding is an open source activity controlled by the customer rather than by brand managers (Fournier & Avery, 2011). Posing simultaneously both an opportunity and a threat, this consumer empowerment has a significant impact on how industries operate – the luxury industry being no exception (Dubois, 2014). Due to the enormous increase of online users, digital marketing and especially social marketing has become a mandatory element for every company (Hanna et al., 2011). But why have especially luxury brands struggled so long to invest in social media?Read more
To illustrate the opportunities social media present to individuals I would like to look at some examples where everyday people have been able to create strong personal brands and become new type of celebrities- celebrities of social media. Lets first look at second biggest social media platform YouTube, it has more than a billion users, every minute more than 300 hours of videos are uploaded on the site and everyday people watch billions of videos (youtube, n.d.).Read more
Internet emergence of Web 2.0 has tremendously empowered individuals by providing the tools for successful personal branding. The advantage of Web 2.0 is that no longer the knowledge of complex coding language is necessary, this provided anyone with the opportunity can generate their own content online, upload their pictures or videos and directly share it in virtual world. (Labrecque, Markos and Milne, 2011). The information that people generate online leaves a digital footprint that indirectly results in personal branding. (Lampel and Bhalla 2007; Madden et al. 2007 cited in Labrecque, Markos and Milne, 2011). As such, social media has become an essential tool through which people express and present themselves and learn about others (Vazire, Gosling 2004 cited in Labrecque, Markos and Milne, 2011).Read more
Written by Filip Zvorinji
The internet and its related interactive technologies have changed the rules of the game for brand managers and companies over the last ten years. The hierarchical one-way communication that worked in favor for brand managers has been replaced with many-to-many communication
December 29, 2014
Written by Onsurang Siripiyavatana
Case and discussion
To illustrate how heritage brands develop viral storytelling in the era of social media where the power of sharing and the perception of brand value are in the hands of consumers. The examples of Thai Life Insurance and Volkswagen will be analyzed from heritage perspective as well as consumer orientation.
Branding in social media era is not only about creativity but also facilitating conversations around the brand. From the heritage perspective, roots down to brand promise and brand essence, heritage brands have track records and many stories to introduce to the audience. Heritage brands have demonstrated successful relation to consumers in the past through its core values and heritage essence hence, it should be able to modify and re-tell the story given the current marketing landscape and the way to stand out in the crowd is to make the brand’s story go viral. In order to go viral, a brand must choose the right story to tell and craft around it, brands must know their targeted audience, learn what the consumers are care about most and do more of that. The new version of the heritage stories provide relevant factor that is consistent to the brand’s core and hence consistent heritage brand image that yield trust, caring and authentic impression to the targeted audience. Thai Life Insurance (TLI) is a heritage brand that is still much relevant today, the key behind this is to take simple product and to promote it by relating the most relevant human emotion to the product. TLI exploited sensitive human emotions and develop extremely effective marketing tool, namely advertisement campaign. The emotional ads have made the brand memorable and placed securely on top of the mind of the consumers. Take the “Silence of Love” advertisement campaign for example, without directly mentioning about the insurance product, the story of the commercial states: the kids are sometimes ashamed of their parents, but it is their parents who care for them no matter what. The overall tone of the ad is sad and touching which provoke all the positive emotions full of caring, love, family bonding and honesty are then translated into more down-to-earth message: if you care about them, insure them. The “Silence of Love” ad is not the first in the series of TLI emotional advertisement campaign, but it definitely creates a consistent message, and adds to consistent brand story and relevant brand image through the co-creation with the consumers who were impressed by the message delivered. The company made the ads public by broadcasting it through Thai television channels as well as in YouTube. The first channel of distribution is costly but it opens to wider audience and definitely worth it, amongst the crowd of television ads “Silence of Love” gains much attention from audience and creates a viral offline word of mouth impact. In parallel, the company makes the ads available in YouTube to create online viral with a potential to reach endless consumers since they are much more likely to view an advertisement if it is communicated to them from someone they know and not a company.
The language spoken in the ads was Thai, the company later provide English subtitle to enhance the understanding and hence emotional engagement of international audience.
Figure 1) Silence of Love-Thai life insurance commercial (Thailifechannel, 2011)
As a result “Silence of Love” becomes viral because TLI does it right by understanding the culture and know what the consumers want and how to approach it for example Thai audience have the characteristics of sympathetic, sensitive, like to chit chat, social media addict and easy going. The brand works hard to give people something they are willing to talk about, something they can relate to. The series of emotional ads is a catalyst and the tool that the brand use to consciously and continually bake word of mouth into its product. The company gives consumers a reason to talk about its product part of its culture, not just marketing.
Heritage brands on the other side of the world also work hard to understand consumer and find the relevant in brand storytelling. Rules, regulations and restrictions of international marketplace are different, let alone the consumer diversity. A successful marketing story of the brand from one country may not even gain recognition in another country for example Dove’s real beauty campaign was a viral success in the US but the same campaign fails to market in China (Chiu, C., Ip, C. and Silverman, A. 2012). That’s why social media marketers have to be creative and specific, matter to one person first, speak to that person. Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory is a good story of viral success in social media. Volkswagen launches a campaign through The Fun Theory website with the slogan “Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better”. The brand invited creative people to come up with their ways of making everyday activity more fun. The Fun Theory campaign is brand’s storytelling tactic that relates to consumers in a given current marketplace and brand’s core messages of being innovative, offering enduring value and responsible (Volkswagen, 2012). One of The Fun Theory award is “The speed camera lottery” the idea behind this is to get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do, this idea was made a reality in Stockholm, Sweden. The Speed Camera Lottery device would photograph all drivers passing beneath it. A portion of the subsequent fines levied against speeders would be pooled in a lottery, with a random winner periodically drawn from the group of speed-limit adherents. The result of this campaign is impressive, according to Volkswagen, average speed before the installation of the Speed Camera Lottery sign on a multilane street was 32 kilometers per hour. That figure dropped to 25 kilometers per hour during a three-day test, despite the device’s inability to issue financial penalties. The short films documenting the projects went viral and it invokes positive brand association in relation to the audience. By making boring thing such as obeying the traffic rules fun and instead of getting punishment for disobeying the rule, people get rewards by obeying the rules. The idea not only reflects upon brand heritage and story but also score high in the relevant scale of contemporary marketplace. The consumers are engaged in the campaign from sending their ideas in for the competition and the trials is seen as a little excitement added to consumers’ everyday lives without provoking frustration to the pedestrian. The brand uses an excuse of promoting safety for positive brand associations and gain awareness. The Fun Theory is a storytelling strategy that embraces the heritage and stays relevant in the consumers’ minds in the current era of social media. The continual success of the campaign endures the heritage for tomorrow.
Figure 2) The Speed Camera Lottery- The Fun Theory by Volkswagen (Rolighetsteorin, 2010)
Heritage brands have developed the brand story over a period of time, the time required for the consumers to absorb and digest the story. However in an ever changing marketing landscape of social media era, the ability to adapt and fit in poses a challenge on heritage brands to stay relevant in consumers’ minds. They key to relate to consumers while maintaining brand’s heritage is to understand consumers and focusing effort to change how people feel before trying to change what they do. As illustrated by Thai life insurance case, telling simple emotional stories work well in relating the brand’s heritage to consumers. The brands deal with customer-centric orientation in an emergence of social media and act as facilitators. Storytelling facilitates conversation amongst customer community and it is brand’s job to give people a story that they are willing to talk about. By this method, consumers become co-creators of the brands as they influence the transmission of messages by getting involved in the viewing, commenting and sharing through social media or even directly helping to create a story, as illustrated by Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory where consumers get involved in the process from the beginning to submit their ideas, take part in trials and sharing the story.
More specifically, while keeping to the heritage, brands have to invite consumers into the branding process in order to stay relevant and this can be achieved by telling a consistent series of compelling story, stories that keep going viral. The businesses that succeed outrageously are not just founded on ideas that are shared in a split second; they are grounded in what matters to their customers throughout the long heritage. The track record and relationship between a brand and its consumers are parts of the heritage that they co-created and stay relevant until now. The key for an enduring heritage is to make giving people a reason to talk about your products and services part of brand’s culture, not just marketing.
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December 25, 2014
Written by Onsurang Siripiyavatana
Powerful stories always link to the heart and mind of people. Well-crafted stories reach out to the audience, making each and every story unique for the individual. Audiences develop their own imagery and co-create the brand. Heritage brands are rich in track records and longevity; they have good stories to tell. Storytelling is an opportunistic marketing tool for heritage brands, if marketers package it right.
However, heritage brands come with the ‘sincerity’ characteristics of being honest, authentic, trustworthy, caring and unassuming (Aaker, 1996). The model of heritage brands view the consumer as passive commodity but it is no longer relevant in the social media era.
In the social media era, companies are now evaluated by much more than their products. It is the era where brand’s values and emotions they evoke are narrative material (Hamm, 2013). It’s indisputable that the best way to link the brand’s idea with an audience’s emotion is by telling a compelling story (Hamm, 2013). Moreover, the opportunities of hyper-connected and social consumer as well as new distribution platform enable rapid sharing of information and contribute to the effectiveness of viral marketing. Viral marketing, by Cambridge Dictionaries Online is defined “A marketing activity in which information about a product spreads between people, especially on the internet” (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Trusov et al., (2009) state that customer involvement is crucial for company’s survival in the social media era and viral marketing is a necessary tool to gain attention in a cluttered marketing environment.
The purpose of this paper is to examine and analyze how heritage brands keep the heritage story relevant in an era where social media is increasingly important and how they utilize viral marketing to elevate the consumers to brand’s value co-creator. Two heritage brands’ storytelling strategy via viral marketing are examined, namely Thai Life Insurance and Volkswagen. These brands are of irrelevant categories and of different base location, one in service another in automotive, one in Asia another in Europe. The two distinct examples are selected to give evidence of powerful storytelling regardless of circumstances.
How the organizations with strong heritage brand strategy manage to stay relevant in the social media era? How they embrace storytelling and make use of viral marketing? What are the keys for success? This is focus questions of the paper. A summary will be given to how heritage brands can adapt and create a sustainable competitive advantage in the cluttered social media environment, “as our new brands of today turn into the heritage brands of tomorrow” (Liebrenz-Himes, 2007)
Who write the brand storyboard in social media
A brand story is more than content and a narrative. The whole picture of the storyboard is made up of facts, feelings and interpretations, which means that part of a brand’s story is not told by brand owner (Jiwa, 2013). As mentioned by Winer (2009), the communication of brand story has changed and with the emergence of social media, the power of storytelling shifts from the hands of brand owner to the consumer through user-generated brand content. According to Vargo and Lusch (2004), the three ingredients central to co-creation of brand story are networks, relations, and interactions— which are enabled through discussion forums, blogs, community platforms, and news-sharing sites. In the landscape of open source branding, Fournier & Avery (2011) used the metaphor of “un-invited brand” to address how branding through the internet is viewed upon by the consumer. The authors claim that the social media was made for people, not for brands. Hence the people, more specifically the stakeholder, is all it matter in the age which the context of social collective, transparency, criticism and parody are relevant.
Storytelling involve a narrator and listener however, because of the two ways interaction nature of social media, both the consumer and brand owner can play the role of a narrator and that of a listener, resulting in an interactive co-creation driven by the participants. Consumers evaluate products or brands online and influence other consumer’s perception, give consumers an active role in branding and storytelling process (Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012). Hence the brand storyboard in social media era is crafted by interlinked content and co-creation of brand from interrelated stories is the key.
Brand heritage and the ability to make use of viral marketing to stay relevant
Brand heritage is a dimension of brand’s identity found in its track record, longevity, core values, use of symbols and organizational believe that its history is important.
Heritage brand make use of its history as a key component in brand identity and value proposition. Many brands have heritage but did not make use of it are not heritage brands (Urde, Greyser, & Balmer, 2007). Heritage brand appeals to its current and past consumer, and if it continues to appeal to future consumers, its heritage continues to be a key asset of the overall brand equity (Liebrenz-Himes, 2007). Aaker (1996) highlights that identity equity in heritage brands is extremely strong and valuable, the brand’s footprints add sincerity and differentiation, especially as the brand’s history and origin are re-interpreted in contemporary time (Aaker, 2004). Benson (2005) notes that heritage brands convey their heritage in a form of storytelling and the key that these brands all have in common is that they have had the time to build a meaningful and relevant past – a heritage. Barwise & Meehan (2010) also see this as an opportunity for heritage brands and that they should exploit the social media and revise the marketing playbook rather than rewriting it—meaning brands should strive to go viral, but protect the brand.
What makes a heritage brand stay relevant from generation to generation is the ability to respond to changing marketplace. Researches point out that the existence of successful brands has to be built on strong core values (Seybold 2001, Moser 2003) that consumers can relate. Seybold states “Your customer’s experience with your brand includes how that customer feels when he is in you brand’s presence” (Seybold, 2001). Hence, it all comes down to the “feelings” or consumers’ emotional engagement. In a diverse marketing landscape of today, the challenge facing heritage brands is to deliver the message and to appeal to the younger generations and stay relevant in changing marketplace. A study by Merchant & Rose (2012) confirms the positive impact of advertising-evoked vicarious nostalgia, a longing for a period that an individual did not personally live through, on brand heritage as “Promoting brand heritage bonds the consumer to the brand by enhancing trust, reinforcing perceptions of stability, creating positive emotions, and communicating the consistency of the brand’s promise over time”. According to Woerndl et al.(2008) the critical characteristic of successful viral marketing is the ability to reach out to the targeted audience and emotionally engaging message content.
Continue reading: case discussion
November 27, 2014
Written by Kristina Persson
Analysis: The Why and How: Generating value from online consumers
Armelini & Villaneva (2011:29) suggest that brands don't have any presence in consumer's thoughts unless the brands are blogging, tweeting and conversing with the customers on social platforms. Fourneir and Avery point out that the internet, the web, is a social space, for people first, and brands have 'crashed the party' (2011:193). Invited or not, brands are part of the web. As in Virtual Worlds, or "lifeworlds" (Zwick, Bonsu and Darmody 2010:168) real people and real brands are present, and brands can use these webs to communicate, and also sell, including real and virtual products (Eisenbeiss et al 2012:17).
In these complex webs of information, people and messages, it is important not only to realise why, but for marketers to figure out how, to engage in marketing online. While people are present on various platforms and in different communities, messages are not necessarily directed at any specific audience. In this new media age, brands do not have control over messages, or who they are influencing, '..everyone and no one [is] the audience' (Fourneir and Avery 2011:194). At the same time, online media messages compete for customer's attention (Armelini & Villaneva 2011:30). Consumers themselves generate content (Muñiz Jr & Schau 2011:210-212), and the web allows for many forms of alternative media, in non-geographically bound and fragmented markets (Winer 2009:109). Careful targeting to the desired audience, through profiles of participants may help marketers focus their resources.
Aljukhadar & Senecal 2010 classify people online into three broad segments (2010:428) of 'basic communicators' such as people who use the internet for email, 'lurking shoppers' who would remain fairly passive, but engaging in online shopping, and 'social thrivers' who are interactive - blogging, chatting, video streaming, downloading. The 'Social Thrivers' are the largest group, would be most engaging and engaged with brands, but at the same time, for some businesses, would be seen as less important than lurker shoppers in e-commerce (Aljukhada & Senecal 2010:429).
In social media, where 'social thrivers' are active (Aljukhada & Senecal 2010:429), Web 2.0 platforms provide 'lifeworlds' for consumers and brands to interact together (Zwick, Bonsu and Darmody 2010:168). Keitzmann et al describe social media based on various 'engagement needs' that are fulfilled for users (2011:242). These are presented as seven 'building blocks' that stacked together, and labelled as 'Presence' 'Sharing' 'Relationships' 'Identity' 'Conversations' 'Reputation' and 'Groups' (Keitzmann et al 2011:242). Different social media platforms with combinations of these building block provide a social space for users to fulfil needs relating to these themes.
The way people act in these spaces have been classified into 5 roles, 'Creators' 'Critics' 'Collectors' 'Joiners' and 'Spectators' (Li and Berhoff (2005, cited in Hanna, Rohm and Crittenden 2011:269-269). These indicate various levels of engagement, and upon various platforms would attract different segments of people. Social media provides the possibilities for developing deeper relationships, and space to interact 'communally' both with individual and personal responses, and forum to share with group as a whole (Christodoulides 2009:142-143).
A range of strategies are given for brands and marketers to adapt their approaches from 'traditional marketing' to social media marketing, how to engage online. Suggestions range from surrendering control, developing co-created brands, giving control to customers (Zwick. Bonsu & Darmody 2008:167) to developing cooperation, leveraging relationships (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011:266).
There are a 'multiplicity of factors' embedded in a corporation, or brand's business strategy, such as the company itself, the industry, products and buyers, that can influence marketing strategies, including in online environments (Varadarajan and Yadav 2009:12). Each of these suggestions require brands to understand their business strategies, resources and aims.
Brands have objectives such as brand promotion, reaching audiences, and achieving sales (Winer 2009:109). Brands and corporations can experiment on different social media platforms, with various functions such as social networking, content sharing of photos, podcast and video, or multiple sites, to engage and influence audiences (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011:266). The brand story can be fed into this ecosystem, where conversations are 'products' (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011:267). Compared to being recipients of traditional media and brand messaging, consumers want to become participants, gaining intimate experiences (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden 2011:267-268). Marketers can use technology to monitor behaviour, to understand the process of thought consumers take to reach ideas, and monitor their physical location, to send personalised advertising and messages (Winer 2009:109).
Credibility is given as an important factor by Armelini & Villaneva which relate to brand promises, trust and emphasise the power of personal recommendations, easily shared online, over advertising (2011:32). Barwise and Meehan provide similar suggestions including to continually strive to improve, and demonstrate an understanding of what consumers want, and play by their rules (2010:83-84). Playfulness is said to make value-creation interactions enjoyable, and activities are attractive for people engaging in them (Seraj 2012:212). Playful, self-governed and quality content driven activities were found to create value, and encourage loyalty for members in online communities (Seraj 2012:209,212). Zwick Bonsu & Darmody, warn brands against aiming to 'co-create' value as it can be seen as exploitative of consumer freedom and labour (2008:163).
From the occasional internet browser to activist blogger; people contributing to conversations, every web page visit, action, comment, click, check in at a certain location, when and with whom, stands as an endorsement, reminder, signal of interaction with brands and consumers. In the online world, these are recorded, visible and public. Consumers participate online enjoyable, playful, creative experiences and engagement to fulfil individual needs. Brands have the same freedom to enter these 'lifeworlds' and can engage with consumers, in order to fulfil their business objectives. While called 'mutually beneficial' relationships for consumers, brands are still in a position to direct how consumers interact, and shape messages to them accordingly.
Marketers can generate value by communicating in this social space alongside consumers, in order to engage and 'co-create' and develop social meaning, which can be translated into financial value. Readers may understand that their interactions in activities in social media are sources of consumption and production, and consider what these acts mean for themselves in their worlds, and to the brands they are interacting with.
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