Brands and the problem of people

Brands and people do not mix. The original pioneers of brands found that they could not sell their products if they were associated with ‘real’ people and marketing switched to introducing characters that consumers could aspire to be.

Of course this then drove the advertising boom in the 1950’s – 1980’s until consumerism reached it’s peak and people began to realise that they were being marketed to and wanted to begin a two way conversation.

What we have evolved into now is the complete two way conversation as social media takes a stronger and larger grip on the way that brands and their consumers converse. But, of course, when a consumer is having that all important conversation, they are speaking to someone who represents the brand and someone who has a set of key objectives that they are looking to get out of each conversation. This can be as simple as a key message, or resolving an issue that the consumer has raised.

This if course has been made a heck of a lot easier through Twitter. But, there are now a new set of challenges for companies to contend with when it comes to how they are represented on such platforms.

So what happens if the person representing the brand is a disgruntled employee, and uses the social networking service to make malign comments about the company that they work for?

This of course happened famously at the turn of this year, with Facebook’s own staff changing a page to have a dig at their employer’s use of advertising. Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have also had to contend with unruly employees bad-mouthing working practices and customers, again on Facebook.

What can a brand do when this happens?

Don’t panic – if you over react, it’s bound to backfire on you sooner rather than later.

Identify who’s involved – and ask them about their concerns and what you can do to make their jobs easier

Re-evaluate your training programmes – are you teaching your employees how to deal with tricky situations well enough?

What do you think brands should do in this situation?

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