Eventia: Brand building

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Brand strategist Mary Jo Jacobi shares her thoughts on rebuilding a brand…

No matter what the business or industry, the number one stock in trade for both organisations and individuals is trust. Bankruptcies, bailouts, nationalisations and heavy financial losses have all served to undermine confidence and trust in business, damage brands and tarnish individual reputations. Rebuilding trust and relationships with key stakeholders is central to driving business recovery.

Despite budget cuts, companies should be taking every opportunity to inform and engage with their publics. However, companies should not take an approach that relies too heavily on mass‐market communications such as advertising: The diminution of trust means that consumers are sceptical of advertising messages and whilst it remains the quickest way to tell a brand story, it doesn’t deliver the personal experience required to rebuild confidence.

Our “customer economy” demands that effective communications be built on trust, with PR playing a very powerful role in that relationship. From straight forward publicity to complex sponsorships and events, PR has an important role to play in creating and shaping perceptions, but the real challenge comes in ensuring those perceptions are positive. Event‐driven PR can help by building third‐party credibility and stimulating word of mouth endorsement, including via social networking and blogging.

Brand managers need to focus on building integrated brand messaging through multiple channels, segmenting audiences and delivering targeted messages that speak to the personal individual needs of the customer. Consequently, while huge sponsorships and hospitality events are currently out of favour, bespoke, intimate events that account for the individuals attending and focus on building relationships are very much in vogue. The ability to offer clients an exciting, thoughtful new experience tailored to their needs can distinguish a business from the competition. The challenge remains to do more with less, but not look like it – to deliver quality creatively.

Significant impact

The US has climbed from seventh to the most admired country globally according to the Nation Brand Index, based largely on the personality of Barack Obama. Whilst this appears at odds with the view of trust in company CEOs, it demonstrates the power of the individual to shape perceptions.

Here in the UK, compare the influence on brand of Virgin’s Richard Branson and Fred Goodwin, formerly of RBS. These are great examples of CEO actions and personalities shaping the perception of the organisation as a whole.

Employees need marketing to as well; whilst it is vital that employees have trust in the business and its leadership in order to maintain commitment and performance, how organisations are seen to treat their employees also has a significant impact on the brand perception externally, as highlighted by the Edelman report.

 

Focus on rebuilding trust through relationship marketing with all stakeholders through regular, targeted communications and financial success will follow. As long as your product, price and service are of good quality, people will choose to do business with people they trust. Perception therefore is vital to gaining competitive advantage. By being seen to “do the right thing” and taking responsible actions a brand can go a long way to restoring/enhancing its reputation. Make sure you have the right to engage – and that you are engaging with the right audience. An integrated communication strategy is key, but it is clear that events do have a role to play.