Columbus, OH – This is the era of what Kelly Mooney, Resource Interactive president and chief experience officer, calls open branding. It occurs when brand management is replaced by brand engagement and brands aren’t created by marketers but co-created with consumers.
Brands like Wikipedia, Netflix and MySpace are already engaging in open branding as a result of their embracement of concepts like deeper consumer engagement, creating an online experience and making the Web a strategic priority, Ms. Mooney said during a presentation at the company’s iCitizen client symposium here. And they’re reaping the benefits as a result.
Some others haven’t fared as well. Brands that haven’t been open with consumers include Coca-Cola’s negative response to the Diet Coke-Mentos video and Friendster’s closed social network. The former has since realized its mistake and embraced the makers of the video while the latter is now eclipsed by MySpace’s open system, which has 50 times more visitors.
Being open with consumers is imperative. Already, 44 percent of Internet users are publishing their thoughts online in some way. Harnessing that through open communication with consumers can create opportunities for ROI, increase effectiveness of marketing and advertising and increase consumers willingness to pay for a brand, Ms. Mooney said.
There are many ways for companies to try to be more open with consumers online. It can happen at the level where consumers are trying to acquire information about a brand if the marketer can make the process frictionless.
For example, L.L. Bean is trying to be more accessible to a larger audience by evolving its search messaging throughout the year so it is more seasonally relevant, Ms. Mooney said. In contrast, a lot of brands still have trademark information and other “junk” in their search terms, she said.
Marketers like Levi’s and American Apparel are already experimenting with letting consumers upload their own images to corporate Web sites and manipulate marketing materials. The next step, which is in development, is a cell phone that a consumer can point at an item in a store and download information about that product, e-mail it to friends to get their opinion and then store it online or buy it at the counter via PayPal.