One of the key questions for a brand online is: where do I fit in? How can I join the conversation? Of course, it all depends on the brand how you can answer that question. Some brands are naturally the answer to a problem. Some brands clean floors, or fill in your tax return for you.

Many searches online are problem-solving, and a useful brand will naturally do well. It will come high in search results and will have prominent mindshare.

But some brands have more difficulty in making themselves useful. Some brands – like Life Insurance – suffer from a dearth of appropriate conversations. There is nothing for the brand to key into. Then there are some brands that are there to be enjoyed but are not a solution to a problem. In face, many consumer brands fall into this category.  Is a bar of chocolate or a glass of whisky solving a problem? Well – not in the conventional sense anyway.  :-)

For these brands online success means thinking laterally. Recently Market Sentinel been doing a lot of work for a global brand owner and the contexts we are addressing for them are based on

- What the consumer is doing (staying in, going out?) Can we explore the online contexts – social and topical – of that behaviour?

- How the consumer feels about the brand (indifferent? a fan? a fan of a rival product?) Can we measure and map those attitudes and loyalties?

The question that remains after that research is completed is: now what do I do?

Do I make a video? Run a competition? Start my own social club? Buy a bunch of ad space in the existing social networks?

The best answers to this question are often around the first brand commandment: be useful.

The folks at Trendwatching just came up with an excellent guide to one way of doing this, which is to build applications that solve your customers’ problems. They call these services “Brand butlers” and the idea is that they make themselves (and therefore the brand message) indispensable.

Image source: thecolourmill 

Original Post: http://www.marketsentinel.com/blog/2010/03/the-brand-commandments-1-thou-shalt-be-useful/

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