Does Digital Mean the End of Control?

Jul 26, 2010

Elizabeth Canon

Possibly one of the most significant obstacles for luxury brands when faced with digital marketing is the fear of losing control…and rightfully so. Historically, luxury has translated to exclusive. The idea that access was not widely attainable made luxury brands, and goods, covetable. As the internet launched and gained momentum and warp speed, it brought with it full and total inclusion. Anyone with an internet connection, anywhere around the globe, can access a brand, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Social media has staged a coup d’etat on the brand marketers by distributing images, commentary and content throughout vast social networks without the permission, and often even acknowledgement, of the brand itself. With now 500 million people on Facebook, and the number of internet users growing exponentially across the world, brands need to figure out how to participate in online communication, but does this mean losing control?

Truthfully speaking, brands have always been somewhat controlled by consumer perspective, never 100% in the driver’s seat of their own brand image. As brand marketers now enter into this interactive, digital world, it becomes about managing that perspective. Everything, every brand communication, every post to Facebook, response to a blogger, every tweet and email campaign, it all needs to be done to benefit the brand. But what does this mean? Benefiting the brand implies two basic things when it comes to online marketing (aside, of course, from the actual marketing goals like increased sales, site traffic, etc.):

1. Uphold the image

2. Provide added value to the consumer

Control is no longer an absolute and brands need to start playing the role of host. The host of a party sets everything up; they carefully choose the venue, décor, food and drink menus, and then once their guests arrive they ensure everyone has a great experience. They don’t force anything on you, but rather they present, observe, listen and please whenever possible.

Control does continue to exist from an image standpoint, and as luxury brands it is necessary to protect this image by providing your audience with an online experience reflective of the already-established brand identity.

However, in essence, central to a brand’s image are advocacy and its ambassadors. If we, as brand marketers, enable our core brand loyalists and enthusiasts by providing them with valuable content, we empower them to endorse the brand on a larger scale.

Over the coming weeks, Fashion’s Collective will be publishing articles that discuss ways in which brands can maintain control over their image while validating, empowering and acknowledging their audiences in the digital space.

Photo Credits: Straightforward Street.com