Customer Advocacy and Brand Development

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by: Chris Lawer

Something of a personal milestone achieved today – my first academic paper is published, in the Journal of Product and Brand Management, co-authored with Professor Simon Knox at Cranfield.

Copyright restrictions prevent me from giving out the article but I believe it is possible to access a version of the article – Customer Advocacy and Brand Development – on the Emerald website here. Those with library access can get it in the usual way, reference, Lawer, C. and Knox, S. "Customer Advocacy and Brand Management", JPBM, Spring 2006, p. 21-26.

The article summarises four brand management strategies for building customer advocacy. These are:

1) Build a branded advocacy network of partners and stakeholders

2) Align brand values with empowered customer value drivers

3) Focus on customer transparency and trust and,

4) Co-create a customer and partner brand community

Here is an extract from the conclusion that discusses some of the brand management implications of pursuing customer advocacy

Creating a successful customer advocacy brand requires a different set of brand management competencies. It requires managers to develop and harness the competencies of customers as well as their own. It demands new communication infrastructures to enable managers to “listen in” and participate in market and customer conversations. Also, it demands that brand management “let-go” of traditional notions of brand ownership, protection and control. It requires firms to rethink the nature of customer value and the role of the market. Critically, it hinges on the willingness and desire of customers to engage with the firm across multiple points of interaction and combined with their ability to extract some form of personalised value.

Throughout this article, we have discussed customer advocacy in the context of the vulnerabilities of brands and changing drivers of consumer value. We have identified a number of organisations that are experimenting with trust-based, customer advocacy business models and we have used these for contextualising a framework for brand management. For managers, our analysis will help them to evaluate how their organisation might benefit from either developing customer advocacy or by participating in a customer advocacy network. In either case, they may discover valuable opportunities to unlock the new drivers of empowered consumer value.

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