Building Connections within Your Business to Create a Strong Network
Businesses are focused on growing revenue through a large network. The downside of growth is brand dilution. As a marketer, ask: What do you do? Why are you in this business? If you can't answer these questions, you need to reassess your company's branding practices.
Getting the Brand Community Right
In the Harvard Business Review, authors Sarah Fournier and Lara Lee identified principles to understand how to get a brand community right. Their research focuses on the following:
- A brand community is a business strategy. A company must do outreach in the community with its employees. For example, Harley Davidson staffed all its community programs with their employees, instead of hiring from the outside.
- A brand community must serve the people in it. Since people thrive on connection it is important to market to all of their needs. Consumers are looking for an encouraging voice and a sense of community.
- Build a web of connection. Webs and hubs need to be targeted for a thriving community.
- Companies that embrace conflict make communities connect. Instead of a dividing line between differing interests, companies that utilize conflict tend to flourish. For example, Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty caused various women to unite together.
- Everyone plays a role in a branding community. The celebrity is as important as the ambassador.
- To promote community strategy, an online network is one tool of many; and companies cannot treat a brand community as a corporate asset. Businesses must be flexible as needs of the community change.
How Growing Companies Risk Dilution
As companies grow, there is a risk that they are unable to get branding right. Some companies promote a product that doesn't align with their parent brand, therefore confusing customers on the overall business brand. Identify your company's key attributes instead of flip-flopping based on what you endorse. Customers will recognize a marketing ploy. Divorcing yourself from your brand will turn customers off — stay consistent so consumers recognize your brand. The bottom line: Doing too much, too soon, without your branding strategy will dilute the mission of your company.
Strategies to Use to Stay Connected
If your company suffers from brand dilution, it isn't all lost. Refocus your energy on core elements:
1) Reinvent yourself: Assess what you do and why you do it and then align with the original intent of your company. Eliminate or fine-tune any slogans or philosophies that do not agree with this intent.
2) Buck current trends: If you believe in your product and service, don't tinker with it so it fits a current trend. Quality wins over a marketing ploy.
3) Use social media to connect: Social media is an effective way to connect with the needs of your customers. For instance, Lifelock uses its Twitter feed to not only promote its security products, but also offers relevant information on recent scams, security threats and reminders on how to stay smart on the Internet.
4) Test out your brand: Consider testing your product and services. For example, you could poll customers to understand their opinions and concerns.