Building Customer’s Social Capital and Leveraging A Brands Social Equity.

We have seen a paradigm shift in marketing tactics, from traditional mix to a more engaging methodology. Rightfully so because of ever-increasing messaging clutter and noise, that the audience have built an immune system to straightforwardly ignore anything that ‘fits that pattern’. Brands and Strategists that have adapted advanced tactics to grip the attention of the audience and gain a positioning and equity in the minds of the consumer have made a strategic barrier from its competitors.

Today, a Brand has to engage at an enhanced social level with its customers for them to be able to convey the brand personality and tone effectively and create customer value as well as add to customers’ social capital. These brands are also engaging in building a customer community which in-turn empowers the brand by making customer advocates and creating influencers and involving them in product innovation and development. The brand message is also enforced with strong CSR and community activities that would strike the right chord with its targeted audience. Branding has evolved from being just unilateral marketing messaging to a truly dynamic one. There has been a massive fundamental shift; FedEx doesn’t consider itself as a courier company but also as a software company with trucks and planes attached; Burberry is saying we are a content company and not so much a fashion brand; RedBull is saying we are media channel and not just a beverage brand. Things have really started to shift and brands are moving towards providing enhanced customer value to be associated with that brand.

This shift from transactional consumer interaction to an advanced holistic methodology in conveying a brands message and thus understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic values associated with a customer life cycle is further empowered by today’s technological tools. An example would be, how big data is somewhat becoming more infused in deciphering the right route to brand messaging and increasing a brands ability to ‘play a part in people’s’ lives and thus ‘moving peoples lives upstream’. This helps brands in invigorating an informative and exciting relationship with people and the community et-al. To achieve this, brands should start by focus on the strategics of behavioral change and not so much on attitudinal change. As Mr Richard Huntington (Director of Strategy, Saatchi and Saatchi, London) has rightfully said ‘The Brand should articulate substantially in the brief, what it is, the substantial behavior change, the brand want people to undertake in order to meet their commercial or social objectives’.

These brands are creating customer value by building communities and support groups and helping customers build their reputation. Brands are also assisting in building customer affiliation network by providing community collaboration and crowd-sourcing tools, wherein the customer is able to interact with the brand in a fluid manner and is also provide valuable inputs and ideas on future product development, innovation and strategy. Further, brands have also started assisting its audience build status in the community by acknowledging their contribution and by rewarding them. Brands that have enabled customer communities and tools that allow the acceptance of ideas and exchange of insights are more innovative. It also allows the community to assist in micro as well as macro areas of brand development, such as early stages of product development. All of the above activities exert a positive brand image and are the building blocks of an empowered society, leveraged brand equity and a brand that truly belongs to the future.

At the end of the day, it is very much about ‘Humanity’ and not ‘Technology’.


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Niku Dutta

Niku Dutta (Nabaneet) holds an MBA (Dual) - Marketing & Personnel Management, and an MSc in Future Media Pro from Birmingham City University, UK. Niku Dutta creates value for companies by identifying the profit opportunities of this new age while guiding organisations through today's ever-evolving new media markets, practices and challenges.