The point about a trusted brand is that we expect it to be consistent and not let us down. That is why we trust it.
This Dec 26th, my family and I became stranded by the side of the M1, arguably the most famous motorway in Britain. When I called the AA I can only imagine that the girl on the other end of the line was doing community service.
Her ‘Where exactly are you ?’
Me ‘I am on the M1 northbound.’
Her ‘Is that clockwise or anti-clockwise ?’
Me ‘It’s the M ONE it only goes north and south.’
Her ‘But is that clockwise or anti-clockwise ?’
Needless to say she dispatched the breakdown van to the wrong place and we were two hours late to visit my elderly father in his old people’s home.
I no longer trust the AA an organisation I have been a member of for 20 years .
I know this sounds like a rant, but brand trust, well it’s important isn’t it ?
The past week has really highlighted the inherent dangers of building a brand around real people, notably sports stars.
Frist Thierry Henry, now Tiger Woods have shown how brand icons can morph into flawed individuals.
So what’s the damage ? Well it has to come down to how it’s handled. The professionals can make all the difference and I speak as a journalist not a PR guru. After all, with Tiger Woods, it’s not what he did or did not do , it’s the speculation that chips away at the brand. This weekend Twitter was full of wild gossip about what might have gone on. Flash-backs to OJ Simpson don’t make life any easier, although this is clearly no OJ case.
What the media crave and by extension all of us, is information. Anything from the Woods camp would help and today’s statement goes some way to fulfilling that need. Having said that, it is far from the full story and won’t quell the speculation.
Over at Thierry Henry HQ things are equally messy. As a brand icon for Gillette, (Woods is too, strangely enough !) Henry has inspired a Twitter war with PRs from a rival shaving brand. I urge you to visit http://greengathering.blogspot.com/ for the full Twitter exchange, basically it’s what happens when PRs collide !
Sports stars with their blend of skill, money and glamour will always attract advertising cash, whatever behaviour ensues. The challenge is for their handlers and PRs to develop a strategy involving all the platforms where they are being talked about, including Twitter. It seems those strategies are still in their early days.
New media. Jungle. Finding your way.
That’s what we are all doing right ? So I am not alone.
I wanted to take this trip because I felt that somehow I was missing out. Twitter is never out of the news and if you don’t blog it seems you don’t exist. I was also interested in seeing how the new and especially social media could be used by business for PR and branding purposes. Is this just the latest fad or are we witnessing a totally new way of doing things ?
I think this is a question that organisations are still asking themselves. Many highly successful and established businesses just don’t see the point. One guy said to me ‘I don’t see how it will win us any new business.’
Well I want to find out. I used to be a journalsit for the BBC so I will apply my skills to sniff out the truth. I don’t actually have anything to sell except myself in the new media world, but since self-branding is one of the hot topics that interest me then that will be my start.
So I have my blog and my twitter account and I plan to get out there and see what I can make happen.
Follow me on my journey !
Gosh morals, that sounds a bit serious already ! But I got to thinking about morality and business, morality and branding. Does it really matter if the business you do is ethical ? does it matter if the programmes you watch on TV have a moral outlook / does it matter if your brand is honest ?
Well, I dont want to get all on my high horse about it, but I think the answer is yes. And I don’t think it is about being ‘holier than thou’ I think it is about decency. Nobody wants to get ripped off do they ? We all hate people who over sell to us, or tell us lies and promise one thing then deliver another.
That is why morals matter. People want to know where they are with someone and whether or not they are acting honestly. Are you coming from a solid consistent position, is fair dealing part of your story ? Then you can shout about it. You can talk about it in your marketing amd make it part of your brand.
Two great examples ;
!. Fairtrade, the logo, the movement , the whole package.
2. John Lewis. A department store that promises to match all others on price yet treats it’s staff as ‘partners.’ Fair dealing is an integral part of it’s brand and people trust it.