With companies across industries expanding their reach to the social and mobile sphere, brands are feeling the increasing pressure to hop on the bandwagon. From forming a Twitter presence, to creating a mobile application, brands find many of their emerging strategies tied to what the competition has already developed. Yet, while it's smart to remain vigilant and aware of other leaders within the given industry, following the beaten path may not be the smartest way to engage consumers."If your competition has an app, then it's an easy leap to 'we need an app' for companies," says Michael LaVista, CEO and founder of Caxy. "However, the hard part comes during the thought and planning process behind how your brand should approach this new platform, why customers will care about it, and how you'll learn from it. It's far easier to just copy what the competition did, but in a 'me, too' world, customers won't care."
In today's market, brand strategy must be built around the customer experience and which platforms and tactics will help maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction. Surely, companies are looking to expand their brand beyond traditional means if they haven't yet done so, but these organizations must also perform an internal audit to ensure that they're pursuing these new channels for the right reasons and with the best intentions in mind. Will they be able to provide the necessary support and care this new platform requires? Do they have the resources to engage customers on the new platform? Does the platform support what the business is trying to do right now?
Ultimately, companies will recognize that, no matter the decision, brand strategy no longer exists solely in their control. Regardless of the brand's presence on social media, consumers voice their opinions freely, drawing attention to the given company despite their awareness or consent. Brands must take this fact into consideration when growing their brand strategy, as they will want to take an approach that builds upon their current foundation, while also taking consumer sentiment into account.
"Technology forces companies to realize that brand identity is officially a two-way street now," LaVista adds. "In the past, it was easy for brands to spend their way to a brand identity. With brands now interacting with customers on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and customers interacting with each other, as well, the brand is whatever it feels like online. User experience, content strategy--these are the ways to tell your brand story now. Embrace the transparency."
Companies cannot avoid the proliferation of social and mobile technologies. Even those that have yet to establish an official Facebook or Twitter account already have a social presence thanks to customers and free speech. Those that embrace these new, popular channels will inevitably benefit by allowing the truest version of the company to come forth in the brand's story. Not only will it make it easier to create and execute in any other media, but once the brand core has been established, it will also attract (and keep) the right customers and the right employees. Such willingness and openness to learn from customer feedback will also allow companies to craft a more informed brand strategy and identity that has the ability to grow and evolve alongside the consumer base.