The Brand Journalism model of Value Co-Creation

In this post I will share a simple model that will help you understand the most important aspects that a company should take into consideration to proactively manage a brand by building a value co-creation process online with its consumers. It is inspired by the brand journalism term originally coined by Larry Light in 2004.

Larry Light declared that mass marketing no longer worked and that “no single ad tells the whole story,” as McDonald’s chief marketing officer, he said that McDonald’s had adopted a new marketing technique: “brand journalism.”

Larry described the concept as one marking “the end of brand positioning as we know it. Effective marketing should use many stories rather than employing one message to reach everyone.” Larry declared that McDonald’s was abandoning the universal message concept.

“Any single ad, commercial or promotion is not a summary of our strategy. It’s not representative of the brand message,” he said. “We don’t need one big execution of a big idea. We need one big idea that can be used in a multidimensional, multilayered and multifaceted way.”

Larry defined brand journalism, brand narrative or brand chronicle, as a way to record “what happens to a brand in the world,” and create ad communications that, over time, can tell a whole storyof a brand.

Our marketing world has changed…

  • There is a more savvy… intuitive consumer… living in a world of immense choice and personalization… wanting the benefits of choice… without the complexity of choice.
  • Customers are more knowledgeable and smarter… They are more informed… more skeptical… more demanding… and more value conscious.
  • There is a wave of responsible individualism: people want to make a difference. Where it used to be you are what you own or you are what you drive… now we hear… you are if you care and… I care for brands that care.

Marketing has fallen in love with the increasing number of communication channel opportunities… social media, entertainment, events, online, , and so on.  But, communications channel management is not marketing management…

In this post I look into the anatomy of a single chronicle of a brand in an online and social media context. I will explain how employees and consumers can shape the brand and co-create value through feedback loops.

This model is coached by the knowledge management discipline and it is based on the resource based view theory of the firm. The model was originally created as a corporate culture competitiveness model.

Who owns a brand the company or the consumer?

While the company owns the brand promise and have to deliver the product and service by creating valuable experiences in each interaction and touch point, the consumer will define through a feedback loop whether the brand will thrive to exist and the direction that it will take.

In an online social networks context it is possible for companies and consumers to co-create value for brands. Through a feedback loop interaction companies and consumers will together define the “externalized touch points” of a brand’s content, service, the brand experience and its communication impact. For companies to be successful it is important to tap into this feedback loop to be able to manufacture valuable products, services, content and experiences based on genuine consumer insights.

So how does the online brand journalism management process start?

The process of managing a brand through this model starts with a needs based segmentation to identify the needs and wants of a consumer, this ideally should include both an online research study and an ethnographic study. Following the company has to organize its resources and establish the processes that can “deliver” the basic identified need.

Once this process has started, the company should then aim at continuously improving the offering based on feedback loops and on establishing dynamic capabilities between their employees and the consumers. These dynamic capabilities should work in line with the brand promise to co-create value by creating value for consumers and building brand equity.

The key ingredients of Dynamic Capabilities can be boiled down to two major concepts working together: Absorptive Capacity and Social Capital. These concepts can be simplified further for managerial practicality into four key elements: Ability, Motivation, Opportunity and Integration (AMOI).

Two basic feedback loops should be created:

1. Feedback loop 1 inside-out:

The Company and every department, team and employee should:

-Understand the consumer need

-Have the Ability to externalize and share the firms offering

-The Motivation to continuously improve the delivery of the promise

-Have Opportunities in terms of the necessary internal resources to deliver the promise as well as the channels through which to deliver it

Finally the team has to be well Integrated to improve synergies and to assure that the offering will be bigger than the sum of its parts.

2. Feedback loop 2 outside-in:

This same process should occur on the consumers’ side:

-The consumers should have the ability or be supported by the company to reach the ability to understand the use of the service and connect into the value co-creation process

-The role of the consumer will then be to continuously provide the feedback of what are the current needs that they have in relation with the brand promise.

Also the necessary feedback about:

-How can the company keep the consumers motivation to continue investing on providing this feedback

-What are the opportunities in terms of resources and channels that the consumer needs to receive the offering and continue the value creation process

And finally how can a company facilitate and empower consumers’ integration to interact among themselves, create communities and to further communicate, share and expand this brand journalism value creation loops.

Following this same model, the loops can then be extended to second and third layers and online network connections.

The company is responsible to design and deliver the brand promise and to facilitate the context for consumers to provide feedback and shape the offering in line with their own specific needs and motivations.

Read complete thesis by Berat Zimberi, Sarah Hempel and Uriel Alvarado Corporate Culture Competitiveness Model

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UrielThe Brand Journalism model of Value Co-Creation

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