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‘Let it go’ – why marketers need to stop rigidly managing their brands

In an era of mass media fragmentation and massive social reach, marketers need ditch the brand ‘handcuffs’ and embrace flexibility, the regional head of Landor has claimed.

Nick Foley, the branding agency’s president of South East Asia Pacific and Japan, argued marketers need to be more clued into their “communities”, who have become an “influencing party” rather than acting as ‘cops’ who fiercely guard a brand’s every asset.

Speaking at the Mumbrella360 Asia conference in November, Foley said: “My job 10 years ago was marketing director South East Asia. I mostly just had to show up and make sure people didn’t screw the brand up.

“There has been a fairly tectonic shift in marketing since then. It’s moved from brand outputs to brand outcomes. This notion of brand consistency that marketers have bought into for years is now about differentiated experiences. Brand management has moved to brand experiences; awareness is still important, but relevance trumps awareness. And finally, if you’re trying to rigidly manage your brands, well as the movie Frozen says, you need to let go and embrace some agility.”

He added: “The brand has never been more important, but its function has not been optimised. It’s important to be on brand, but when you’re on brand and it’s restrictive, then you got a problem.”

During his presentation, Foley cited a number of brand hiccups that were caused by marketers’ stubbornness towards letting go of certain attributes.

These included a row between Ford and their sponsors Vodafone over brand colours during the 2008 racing season and Kraft’s iSnack 2.0 PR disaster in 2009. 

However, he conceded that there are still some “sacred assets’ which remain unchangeable such as Singapore Airlines’ uniform and the DoubleTree cookie.

Nevertheless, he added, it is important for marketers to still “empower” their “brand communities”.

He said: “Community is the mechanism with which the manage this asset… Empowering the brand community, both externally and internally, to feel as though they are having an actual input on the brand is much more likely to get brand loyalty than in this mode we were in before social media, which was a one-way street.”

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