Monday, October 18, 2010

Circular Brand Communications

Since so many commented on last week's blog, I am continuing topic and provide an example of a company that is following our advice.

Hasbro is a company we enjoy for their willingness to embrace new communication vehicles. More to the point, they have given control of its brand directly to customers.

As noted last week, brand strategy is evolving as control shifts from companies to customers.

Traditionally, most companies have used advertising, sponsorships, and other mass communication outlets as their primary branding platforms. But to truly differentiate, more brands are incorporating the customer experience into their branding efforts, particularly online.

Hasbro, for example, is transforming itself from a toy and game company to a "branded play company," according to President and CEO Brian Goldner. Many of Hasbro's more than 1,500 brands, including Monopoly, G.I. Joe, and Transformers, are already well-known to consumers. But Goldner wants to grow even more. "We are driving our brands to understand how consumers behave," he told the audience at last week's World Business Forum in New York. " Our company has created a new mantra for its brand strategy: ‘re-imagine, reinvent, reignite,’" he exclaimed.

(Hello, see my blog dated Aug., 16, 2010. Our many followers and influence is growing. Thanks for being one of our dedicated STIR’ers and feel free to use any of the thoughts as well.)

Goldner points to Monopoly as one example. "We bring to bear all the forms and formats that a Monopoly user would be interested in," he says. The 75-year-old board game has added mobile apps, electronic versions, video games, online games, a customizable version, and continues its game partnership with McDonald's. "The more they play our games in all these other spaces, the more they come back to our [board] games. It does not cannibalize." As a result, Monopoly's brand grew by 12 percent from 2005 to 2009. He adds that each Hasbro brand has its own customer experience strategy relevant to its consumer base.

Goldner also touted a partnership with Discovery Channel to launch an online community called the "Hub" this week that features top brands. Its goal is to mix cartoons, game shows, user-generated content, and other information with online and television delivery platforms to enhance Hasbro's brands. "That allows us to create immersive brand experiences for consumers of all ages with any brand, anytime," said Goldner.

Today, companies must allow the brand to be defined by the customer. Companies now participate in, not control, the direction of the brand.

At STIR-Communications, we are regularly reminding companies that in the past brands pulled the strings – they had all the information that was to be had, and so they were able to manage consumer expectations and impressions. Today, any one individual has a megaphone that reaches literally millions of people in real time. The message is whatever each person wishes it to be.

The engaged customer wants to be involved in the direction a brand takes. A recent Alterian report, Your Brand: At Risk or Ready for Growth, surveyed 2,000 consumers in the U.S. and UK, finding that 75 percent of individuals believe there would be a positive impact from companies taking more time to find out about their needs and interests. In addition, 82 percent of those surveyed are willing to get involved in product and service development with a brand, and the same percentage says such involvement would make them more likely to promote the company to others. That's some heady statistics.

How are you currently embracing communications? What areas are showing positive returns? Where do you think the next area of penetration will be directed?

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

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