In the good old days, when social media was not there, brand communication was a broadcast communication, a one way monlogue. The brand spoke and the consumer listened. The rise of social media has broken the iron curtain that shielded the brand from consumer feedback. Now communication has become a dialogue. And dialgoue involves two interaction. But what is if some interaction with a consumer is not going in the brands favour. And what if the brand has genuinely messed up something big time ? Should a brand apologise ?
Traditionally, a brand has been treated as something very sacrosant. Almost God-like. Economists will tell you that a substantial part of the market capitalisation of some of the largest companies is on account of brand value. Marketeers will say that the only sustainable way to build a long term competitive business is by building a brand. Brand managers guard the brand, with the same zeal and enthusiasm like a someone guarding a treasure. Consumers swear by their brands. If brand is a God, then Gods don’t apologise !
As I see it, this era of “Godliness” of brands is coming to an end. The kingdom of brands is coming to an end. And we are entering into an age of brand-democracy. And in a democracy, everyone is accountable and everyone is responsible.
Thus brands will need to get off their pedestals and acquire a more human face. If someone is complaining, brands need to address that complaint. If someone is maligning, brands need to defend themselves. If someone is ranting, that person can be ignored. And if something has got messed up somewhere big time, a brand must apologise. Human beings are fallible and so are brands. And accepting a mistake and working on correcting the same, only makes a better human being…or in this case a better brand.