The era of Big Brother: the challenge of handling a brand when everyone knows everything
“Big Brother is watching you” is the famous sentence. Avid readers will remember it from reading George Orwell’s book 1984 where the shadow of a mythical character leads us to imagine a future in which the power of authority is visible, omnipresent and instant.
Today, thanks to technological advances, we are interconnected and globalized, moving us beyond the fiction and positioned within a framework similar to that which could only be imagined by Orwell. This has brought us many changes in terms of social structures and how we live, especially when we consider corporate culture, and how to transform a brand.
We imagine this paradigm change through the metaphor described by David Mattin (Global Head of Trends & Insights on Trendwatching): if you think about brands before internet, you would find that brands were constructed within a black box. Any activity, structural change, product evolution, corporate culture, organizational purpose, were so far removed from the consumer that purchase decisions were made totally separate from any corporate philosophy.
As consumers in this black box, we never get anywhere close to company philosophy or communications strategy. Today, however, we understand that a brand is all about perceptions, beliefs, values and relationships whose purpose is to connect us to an organization. We have swapped the black box for a glass box, a box that allows us to see inside the company and appreciate it in its totality.
All we have to do is imagine someone who works in the company, who will share any feeling or happening on social media; or a consumer who shares the experience of living the brand from personal experience. How do we ensure that the messages that the brand communicates are the ones the consumers receive, since we live in a glass box?
The answer is simple: you have to be congruent. If a brand like Gillette decides to launch a campaign where the objective is to promote equality between men and women and then they use a message like this: “the best a man can get”, the company has to be ready for a tweet on how insulting this phrase is for women, and the idea is destroyed within hours. Another example: if the CEO of Uber ignores malpractice then this will be totally related to the organizational culture of the company, and the brand will be damaged. Then, as actually happened, the board will make a decision that ends in the replacement of the CEO.
A catchy slogan is not the answer and perfect design is not enough to make a brand successful in its market sector. Nowadays it’s all about communication, internal campaigns, corporate culture, social responsibility, a true purpose, strategic communications plans, etc., that together complement the brand’s messages in order to make them real and tangible. In Ideograma we talk about making a brand work. We make sure that the company is true to the brand before taking it successfully out into the world. And, as in a glass box, we need to create solid communications pillars to ensure that our brand is supported not just internally but also externally, at any moment and under any circumstance.
Do you think that your brand meets all your promises and values? Remember, if your answer is “no”, then it’s just a question of time before Big Brother finds out, and the rest of the world too.