Corporate Image Conference
Last week we were at the Conference Board's Annual Corporate Image Conference. Both Thomas and I spoke; he was on a panel about customer experience, I talked about the ways innovative marketers are using the Internet to transform the practice of brand building.
Conferences like this one are a rare opportunity for people from both the agency and the client sides of the business to get together, take a hard look at trends and compare experiences.
Here are some of the key things that I heard during the two day event:
Brands are a conversation: It was interesting how many times this theme came up. Brand building today is about engaging in an open and authentic dialog with customers, partners and even competitors. This is a real evolution from the command and control brand world that was considered the norm until recently.
Surrendering control: Brand managers are coming to the realization that "brand management" may be an oxymoron in a world where anyone can have an impact on the way that your brand is interpreted and experienced in the marketplace. This loss of control is a challenge to the brand managers ultimately responsible for the strength of their brands. Many talked about changing the perception of their roles within their organizations...marketer market thyself.
Technology is no longer a channel: Marketers of all stripes have wrestled for years with the role that Internet technologies play in their brand building efforts. For most, this has meant treating the Internet as another channel, an alternative to television, newspapers, radio, etc. Social networks, UGC and other web 2.0 realties are demanding that marketers re-think this old media perspective. Allen Olivo from Yahoo! had a great insight on this...he said that people older than 35 talked about being "on the Internet" whereas those younger than 35 didn't make a distinction between being online vs offline. Instead they just described what they were doing...talking to friends, catching up on news, etc.
Support from senior management is critical: Heard several people talking about the importance of direct senior management involvement for effective brand building. This was seen as a particular challenge for marketers looking to make a change in the way that their brands were perceived.
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