I couldn't help but smile at Kia Motor's clever wordplay in a recent advertising campaign: "Our cars speak for themselves. Our customers speak for us." This is brand advocacy at its best.
For a company to sustain its reputation, it needs more than just a big marketing budget, decent products and/or services and a portfolio of glowing reviews.
It needs passion and conviction.
Let's take the example of consumer electronics giant Apple. Few brands (Kia included) can conjure up the loyalty of millions of people around the world, many of whom are happy to line up for hours to get their hands on a minimally upgraded version of a product they already own, or engage in verbal and literary warfare over its supposed superiority over Windows PCs.
Perhaps that's why I'm fascinated by the concept of brand advocacy. especially for 'designer' products. In my (admittedly cynical) view, I find it bizarre and slightly disturbing that millions of people pay huge sums of money for items, then ecstatically parade around the high street with shopping bags prominently displaying the brand owners' logos.
These 'unpaid human billboards' will not get a single penny for marketing on behalf of the designer brand, nor will they receive any credit for helping to create and maintain product awareness by using branded products.
This masterstroke by brand owners may be based on a simple, winning formula: premium pricing + 'exclusivity' = 'brand advocate friendliness'...?
Maybe I'll pick up on this in a future post.
In the meantime, let's focus on the power of brand advocacy.
A big thank you to brand advocacy firm, Ciceron for the infographic.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.