Last month, we looked at how the concept of positioning had been killed by the Internetworked stakeholders of the Internetworked Century.
This month, let’s begin from Pawna Dam, two hours from Lonavala, which itself is 2.5 hours from Mumbai, on a Sunday afternoon.
Here I am, stranded because my unfailing-for-five-years Maruti SX4 is dead.
The mechanic from a nearby village can’t fix it. I call the 24x7 helpline, expecting silence. Instead, the man notes down the car number, warranty period, closest town and hangs up. A few minutes later, a garage from Lonavala calls, diagnoses the problem, sends a towing truck. Half an hour later, a service centre from Delhi calls me to confirm I have received help. One hour later, he repeats the call, asking whether I need anything else.
I am more than impressed, I am thankful: I have reached home, 150 kms away, on time.
I enjoy similar service from Jaguar bathroom fittings: they have a helpline that guarantees a response within 48 hours. Their troubleshooter fixes a Jaguar tap malfunction without asking for bills (who keeps bills for 3 years?).
Ditto Samsonite: without asking for a proof of purchase, they give me a refund of INR 4500 because even though I did not know it, the bag with the malfunctioning zip that I bought five years ago had a lifetime guarantee!
I am more than impressed, I am dying to share these stories.
Are Maruti, Jaguar and Samsonite product brands or service brands?
In the Internetworked universe, strong brands have to rely on what I am doing now: spreading brand mythologies not just about how good the product is, but how much the company cares for the customer.
But wait: why just customers?
Isn’t the same now applicable to other stakeholders?
What about employees (Stakeholder Two)?
BPO companies struggle with over 30% attrition rate. How do the employees choose their employers? Check out www.glassdoor.com to understand how naked corporate brands are when their own employees reveal their underbellies.
What about activists (Stakeholder Three)?
In 2006, Starbucks was coasting along fine with a plan to have 20,000 stores in the next seven years. But then bloggers attack the corporation for unfair trade practices with Colombian and Ethiopian coffee farmers and consumers (some, not all!) boycott the brand.
What about shareholders (Stakeholder Four)?
Shareholders forced Apple, the most valued brand on earth, to change their plastic to recyclable, change their employment policies in China, change the battery lifetime in iPods.
Which brings us to the new rule of the Internetworked Universe: corporate brands drive the success of product and service brands and not vice versa!
And the only mantra for corporate brands is “tell me the truth”.