"A brand does not exist on a shelf — it exists in the hearts and minds of people"... Mahesh Murthy 2010
This blog is about the new age of the Interactive Brand. It will point you to a series of newsletters and web sites that explain the secrets of the Interactive Brand. The brand that connects!
To stand out from the crowd you need a purpose that defines your brand as different. This is the hook. It makes your brand news worthy and, if people like it, it may just enter the conversation.
Take a look at our Social network site - it has a great video about social media. Made a few years ago when facebook was still a baby, not the second most visited website in the world, it is very valid.
This social conversation is part of the interaction that successful marketers are engaging in. The Apple iPad and Google Buzz both have created a Buzz of conversation without a single ad.
The Social Media hotel in NY climbed to the top of the conversation using Twitter and facebook to get a message out that they were friendly, open, social and interested in things that are happening in NY. Their hook was connecting with special interest groups and building around events that interested them, like Craft Beer Week and hosting a party for a Mashable Social Media event.
In Barbados theCoconut Court Hotel has hired a Community Manager and moved into the community conversation announcing its social happy hours, breakfast specials and a full calendar of social events which is communicated using social media.
It's a crowded field but brands can take off "hook, line and sinker", via viral marketing, word of mouth, social media and the Internet.
Viral marketing does not need to be conducted through major advertising firms or tech savvy companies. It is managers and staff, real people that make the conversation. Well mostly, we note that Obama needs a social media aid to keep up with the conversation.
Obama's hook was "Yes we can" and his team turned that into a victory, it was clearly a purpose that was different.
Once you have your purpose you need a website that communicates this - see our 10 steps for good website design.
Your website is one of the most powerful communicators of your brand. Your website is where social media will go to discover more about you. If you do it right its where Internet searchers will find you. So make it special, make it have the best content and best process. Be wary of how your content is used on the net and be the guardian of your brand. In particular be wary of how other online channels and online travel agents can effect your brand.
Promoting your brand on the internet has a lot to do with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). All that you do in Social Media will help you get indexed and found on the major engines. Unlike Social Media Interaction, we don't suggest you do your own Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), this is a job for the pros. If done wrong it can wipe you off the Net. See our summary of the key points in Your Brand and SEO
As we note in "Your Brand and SEO", an important differentiation in communications and brand appeal as well as in Search engine Ranking is the Process. The process is about Interaction. The process refers to how the brand is deployed, the methods, form and function and all the ways that it is dynamic, changing with your use, tracking your experience and your interaction to give you what you want. It is, in a way, both the media and the message.
Rates and quotes are a simple example; if travelers perceive that your website rates are not clear and not fair rate, they will go elsewhere. We are in a buyers market and getting the best price is almost a way of life now. It's too easy to find great deals at Expedia and Priceline and if your website is not in line you will lose direct business and brand loyalty. Read about the fair rates perception and your brand Interactive fair rates and brand Integrity
A Tourism website and product needs to have a purpose and be different - we can't all be the best luxury hotel or the best budget hotel, so some are opting for the best party hotel, with non stop improvised jazz, jam sessions, beach parties and picnics. Others cater to families, singles, couples, the getaway crowd and to sports tourism etc. Soon these differences are not enough and the hook has to be something more. The "best" is tired and better retired.
A hook is a hook only if it connects with the customer. It has to be more than a market segment; which is best described as travel and holidays theme marketing. The hook, by contrast is about differentiation across market segments or themes, it has to have a global purpose with real appeal. When Nike used "Just do it" it connected. It connected to the sports minded who wanted to just do it, and it connected because of its association with the "Best" athletes. Best is Ok if it's real and not just a tired word. You have to show it.
There is trend today to be more edgy. I am not sure I like it. I don't think a good cook has to use foul language to win customers but, Hey, It works. Even Mickey Mouse is showing his darker side in Disney's re-branding of Mickey.
Mickey's popularity in the United States has begun to wane with the growing competition from Nickelodeon, Pixar and Dreamworks characters that are more edgy. Mickey's personality has to grow with the times to remain relevant in the marketplace.
Travel writers are doping the flowers in their language and become more outlandish telling the good, the bad and ugly with character. So too the brand needs to be articulated with straight talk and frank conversation - see Mahesh Murthy on Interactive Branding.
AXSES Interactive Brand directory