Common Threads of Networked Brands

Post by Brian Mitchinson, SVP Marketing, Blast Radius New York
(Part 2 of 2 on Networked Brands)

In part 1 of this series, we explored a new stage of economic evolution: the networked economy. Now we look deeper at some threads of what great brands need to consider in this new economy.

1. Uncover and champion shared beliefs. More brands are pushing to transcend (AND redefine) their category to integrate services, products and experience for something bigger. At the center is a shared passion—a core of values, identity, and real, beyond-marketing effect that improves brand resonance as well as community impact.

The benefits go beyond the feel-good. As well as providing a platform for growth and differentiation, the potential for financial impact is now visible for companies with three bottom lines—organizational and societal success measured by economic, ecological, and social impact.

2. Get local. Retail’s got a natural advantage when it comes to local presence, but if you apply the same logic to the virtual world, the same principles of connection, experience, and relevance apply. The end game is to be a hub for formal and impromptu connection. Brand-to-customer, customer-to-customer. Doesn’t matter. Be the place where it happens.

To get there, know your audience. Look for true insight—the kind of guidance that comes from understanding not just demographics, but life stages and consumer behavior both online and offline. Networked brands collect data, interpret it, and use their learnings to drive change.

3. Trying makes more buying. People who try are more likely to buy. Weave in the social web as the invisible audience, and you’ve got sticky content for your network as well as an antidote to second-guessing.

At New Balance’s New York flagship store, customers can try out shoes on a short running track or treadmill. REI’s flagship stores feature climbing walls, trails to test-ride mountain bikes, and even walk-in freezers to try out cold-weather gear.

4. Innovation over increments. Networked brands are built when a mandate is set to ‘new’. Across every department and function, every team has to be wired to think differently, and leaders open enough to encourage ideas to float to the top. Silos: gone. Before any brand-related initiative kicks off, networked brands consider all the departments involved—not just marketing.

Rewiring doesn’t mean an abandonment or complete rehaul of your org structure or brand. It just means that you have to get better at surfacing and acting on good ideas regardless of jurisdiction.

It’s not just great campaigns or great products or great services. Not even big communities of rabid fans. A strong network connects all of these dots and creates something bigger. Consider your brand network: its core purpose, its elemental heat, the size and depth and reach of it, and opportunities for innovation that you might not otherwise see.

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