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Okay, for a minute, pause reading and answer this question:

What are the two most important expectations a consumer has from a brand?

If you answered anything other than Trust Competence, I can point you to numerous studies that have been conducted zillion of times, and the end result always remains the same. If you were managing a brand that lacks either of these, the association your consumers have with your brand won’t be long lasting. Brand loyalty is a direct result of establishing trust and competency.

In the old economy, both of these attributes were a direct result of the brand actually being trustworthy and competent. How many brands have we seen failing during the course of time because they either lost trust of the people by being incompetent. This task is even more challenging in the 2.0 world, where brands not only need to be genetically trustworthy and competent, but the million touch points across interaction landscape should reflect this ideology.

Take the example of latest video incident at Domino’s. Its a brand built with painstaking efforts for over 50 years, but brought down to its knees in less than 24 hours because of two vagabonds. I personally do not believe that Domino’s as a company was at a fault, rather they eventually rose to the occasion gracefully, albeit a bit too late, while the damage was being done.

Yes, they underestimated the power of web 2.0 – which is what my point with this post is – As a brand, organizations need not only be trustworthy and competent, but need to maintain this throughout the interaction landscape.

Had they risen at the first mention of the video and started to communicate with their multi million dollar a year PR machinery, the damage could well have been contained before spreading out like wildfire. Eventually, they set up a twitter account (which is where maximum damage was being done) and have been actively conversing.

In today’s world, brands can no longer sit pretty by communicating the right message. They have to actively participate in the conversation threads across the spectrum to be able to build credible influence. I will talk about the facilitating role of brands as against a mere communicative role in subsequent posts, but the reason for brands to act as facilitators is simple – People trust other people who are LIKE them and therefore, the power of conversation, even better if facilitated by the brands takes supremacy across all forms of brand communication.

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