3FEBRUARY 2011iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand
Brands are expected to share back.
As audiences increasingly talk directly
to brands, brands are realizing that audiences are demanding more of them than simplyshouting about their products and services. Audiences want to hear what brands have tosay. Every day, millions of them are actively reaching out to connect with brands throughdigital channels. Nearly 15 million people “like” the Skittles Facebook page —opting in todaily messages from the candy brand. Zappos and Whole Foods each have nearly 2 millionpeople following them on Twitter. Shoppers even pay for the content brands provide:
witness the $.99 that iPhone users pay to download Kraft’s iFood Assistant app.
Content moves through networks at lightning speeds
at a pace marketersstruggle to match. To complicate matters, one form of content can create another form
of content, and another, and another — moving through a constant cycle of replication.Comments, re-mixes, mash-ups, parodies, derivatives — it seemingly never stops. And
as the content replicates, it spreads through networks exposing hundreds or thousands
of unique connections to audiences, creating public, visible histories of interaction.Conquering this rapid cycle, a signicant aspect of the content ecosystem, can provedifcult.
As these three forces
brand, media and audience
blur together, the roles andexpectations of each continue to change. Most importantly, for brands there are two keytakeaways:
1) Brands are becoming their own media platorms
Brand equity is no longer being created by media spend alone. Instead ‘earned’ media(visibility in search and social spaces, word-of-mouth, PR) and ‘owned’ media (abrand’s website, ofcial Facebook and Twitter pages, branded apps, etc.) are becoming
fundamental components of the story.
2) Always-on marketing is the new norm
Audiences are increasingly expecting constant, consistent engagement from brands.Online stores are never closed, so marketing programs and customer service can’t beeither. When consumers want to know more about a product, need answers to questionsor are ready to take action, the brands are expected to be ready and responsive.Hearst and iCrossing are committed to working with brands that recognize this
fundamental shift in marketing. Central to our approach is a marketing framework we call
, an approach that focuses on how marketing gets done in a networked
world. As our clients embrace this approach, brands become a new kind of publisher,
interacting with their audiences wherever they are, whenever they want, armed with unique
content that serves as the relationship-building currency they need. This results in higherdegrees of loyalty and brand preference — not to mention the ability to more preciselyinuence purchase behaviors.