A powerful brand is the consistent identity of a trusted source. A powerful brand reflects its trusted reputation for quality, leadership, and integrity, underpinning all stakeholder relationships.
A powerful brand is not merely a marketing concept. It is not an academic theory. It is not a line in an advertising slogan. A powerful brand is an asset. A powerful brand is an asset on a company’s balance sheet. A powerful brand is at the very core of accounting’s Goodwill. A powerful brand is valuable.
When a brand’s power diminishes, so does its economic value.
The back-and-forth decisions, the double-talk, the public real-time musings, the threat of bankruptcy are all eating away at the Twitter brand. Its brand power is draining away. Although never at the top of the lists of the world’s most powerful brands, since its inception, Twitter has had powerful global impact, politically and socially.
The frightening vacillations at Twitter are having a deleterious effect on the brand, its brand power and its value. At the same time, driving the chaos is the reality of funding the $1.2 billion annual interest payment on its $13 billion debt load.
A powerful brand relies on four “must-haves”:
Be a credible source
Have an excellent reputation
Be a pillar of integrity
Have a responsibility ethic
1. Be A Credible Source
Being a credible source means that all stakeholders – from investors to analysts to employees to users – have confidence that Twitter provides true information about itself. Although now a private company, Twitter still has an array of stakeholders. Being a credible source also means that Twitter will consistently deliver on its promises. Research shows that when a brand is perceived to be a credible source, stakeholders believe that the brand’s past actions can predict its future behaviors.
Discussing the fiasco of the $8 blue check system where some people were pretending to be celebrities and brands, a director at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab told The New York Times that “… the quality and credibility of content on Twitter could suffer if fraudsters created confusion and amplified lies.” Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts said, “Selling the truth is dangerous and unacceptable.”
It is an imperative to be perceived as credible. Communications from highly credible sources are more persuasive. A credible brand acts as a “quality” cue lessening customer-perceived risk during customer decision-making. There are data to show that credibility makes decision-making easier. This is because the customer trusts the authority of a credible brand-business. Changing plans every day does not foster credibility. And, firing the entire communications, marketing, celebrity partnerships and human rights departments leaves the brand at a credibility disadvantage.
2. Have An Excellent Reputation
Having an excellent reputation means consistently and continually behaving in a quality manner. Reputation is all about the brand’s accomplishments. Reputation is based on the brand’s past. Think of reputation as the “collective representation” of a brand’s past actions and results. For the finance community, reputation means that the brand has been able … and will continue to be able… to deliver valued outcomes to multiple stakeholders. Whether you like Twitter or not, it has had accomplishments.
Reputation is the collection of stakeholder perceptions over time. As with value, reputation is determined by the perceptions of stakeholders. Twitter does not determine its reputation. Twitter’s reputation is in the eyes of the beholders.
Reputation can increase business performance. This is because a great reputation helps sell offerings at an increased margin and can help leverage a sustainable competitive advantage. Having a great, positive reputation would be of enormous value for persuading advertisers to come back to Twitter. A powerful brand’s positive reputation alters preference. A strong, trustworthy business reputation contributes to high quality revenue growth.
Losing a brand’s reputation is sinful. It is self-destructive brand mis-management. When a magazine like Playbill cuts ties with Twitter, it is time to take action. The CEO of Playbill indicated that in recent weeks, Twitter’s reputation for tolerating “hate, negativity and misinformation” left Playbill no choice but to remove its advertising and focus on Facebook and TikTok platforms.
3. Be A Pillar Of Integrity
To be a pillar of integrity, a brand must make sure that at the core of all actions and behaviors, internally and externally, are the best interests of stakeholders and other constituencies. Integrity means that stakeholders and constituencies view the brand as fair, impartial, open-minded and just across all brand actions. Integrity refers to the brand’s core values and purpose: its guiding principles, and its reason for being.
Being a pillar of integrity means the brand recognizes that its relationships with all its stakeholders are valuable. Research indicates that responding to stakeholders with positive actions provides differentiation and/or cost advantage. This ultimately enhances a brand’s overall brand performance.
When the individuals responsible for oversight of internal and external relationships are fired or have quit, questions arise as to the brand’s commitment to integrity. When advertisers are wooed and reassured in person but whacked behind their backs, questions arise as to the brand’s integrity. The New York Times stated that Twitter threatened advertisers with “thermonuclear name and shame” if the brands cut off their advertising.
4. Have A Responsibility Ethic
Having a responsibility ethic means being an effective global citizen behaving positively on behalf of people, communities, nations and planet. Twitter had important roles to play in global events such as the Arab Spring revolutionary waves.
Being ethically responsible can influence brand preference as the brand’s reputation influences purchase decisions. People are more vocal in supporting businesses that “do good” while boycotting or publicly berating those perceived to be “not responsible.”
Playbill’s CEO pointed out that “… the line between actual news and insidious rhetoric…” had been blurred by Twitter’s recent actions. Saying it was a “respected news outlet for the Broadway community,” Playbill was essentially saying that Twitter was behaving irresponsibly.
If Twitter’s goal is to become a digital global town square where people discuss “a wide range of beliefs,” then being a credible source with an excellent reputation, integrity and a responsibility ethic are necessities. Making Twitter a profitable “trusted source of information and a haven from toxicity” does not happen in a vacuum. Brands can live forever but only if properly managed.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Larry Light, Author of The Paradox Planet: Creating Brand Experiences For The Age Of I
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