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Avoid Brand Collapse: Be Fast or Be Last

WE Communications Blog: Agency

10/5/2017
— Aaron Petras 

Digital isn’t just a revolution. It’s a reality. And today we are living through what will one day be known as the great digital migration. The period in which every consumer on the planet moved from analog to digital. And that was just the first wave. This current wave of change will impact our cultural norms and set new models for how we do business and how we reach customers. Don’t worry: In 100 years, Amazon bots will literally have written the history on this in our Amazon textbooks taught at Amazon High — Building 427.

In the report “Digital Innovation: Surviving The Next Wave of Change,” our partner YouGov developed a study to provide practical advice for marketing looking to understand this next wave of innovation.

We all know there are casualties when change and innovation occur. Blockbuster, Blackberry, Sears, Nokia, JCPenney. The list is long and sad. It wasn’t just a failure to innovate, but a complete failure to understand their customer and the ways their behaviors changed. From how they decided what they wanted to purchase, to the friends they asked, to content they read and the way they liked to buy. Brands just kept feeding customers the same slop blissfully thinking it’d go on forever. Speaking of slop, when was the last time someone ate at an Applebees?

Based on YouGov’s research, “the speed of digital communication increases the risk of a brand’s collapse in a crisis.” In our industry, look no further than Bell Pottinger. Sorry guys. Whether it was Samsung’s battery crisis or Volkswagen’s emissions scandal or Wells Fargo’s insidious fake account revelations — brands live and die by the speed at customers share and shame.

In WE’s recent Brands in Motion study, the concept of “Love you today, shame you tomorrow” showed that 90 percent of consumers worldwide wouldn’t think twice about lambasting your brand. We’ve become so fickle. But haven’t we always been?

In reality, the pervasiveness of communications enabled by digital means that we as consumers can expect more from brands. Maybe that helps us sleep at night as we lie next to our shiny new iPhone X. But seriously, if your brand doesn’t understand the new rules in this new world, you’re probably one crisis away from being the next trending topic on Twitter. #TedCruzLikedMy

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Aaron Petras

VP, Agency & Partner Strategy

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