Brand together – Book review

“Brand Together – How co-creation generates innovation and re-energizes brands”
Nicholas Ind, Charles Trevail and Clare Fuller
Have you ever listened to two women talking about brands? Sounds too trivial? Well, this conversation is different…
Such important first impression,  and we are not judging the book by its cover
Tatjana: For me, brand is a ‘loud’ name that represents quality and value. Products and services with solid brand names will win over despite the price margin that I would be paying just for having that label on a product. The reputation that brand has, often comes with a history of quality level. When seeing book title “Brand together” among other very interesting books for the assignment, I immediately knew that this is something I can relate to naturally. The anticipation of something stylish, bright, lightweight and attractive, packaged into one nice word, was on in an instant. The book turned out to be a ‘heavy-reading’, but with interesting insights to compensate for the writing style.
Annaliisa: I felt the same way as Tatjana. Because of the tight layout, the reading experience were not that pleasant.  The compressed feeling continued through out the whole book. The actual content is so well squeezed together that it starts to disturb the reading. You have to really focus on the text so that you don’t miss anything. The content itself was well focused and interesting. After the struggle at the beginning you’ll start to absorb the information as fast as possible.

Digging in

Annaliisa: As it is noted that the co-creation has lift up its appearance among every business field and everybody wants to implement it in their business strategies, one important factor has been forgotten. To update our knowledge about potential users versus our way of thinking. There is the generation C which will overtake 40% of our market by 2020 (Brand together). This is the first group that has be born some kind of technology in their hands. In branding and in service development it is vital to have Generation C as one contributory in co-creation. The relationship with this group needs to be transparent and trusted in both sides.

Generation C is well aware of brands and their giving values. They can not be bypassed when working with the brand. Basically brand value is defined by customer. We can give frames, where we want to be, but ultimately the customer is the one who will define the overall value and where in segment point view it stands. Specifying the corporate identity it is crucial to first understand yourself and your work environment by answering few simple questions. Who are we really? What most of us value? How do we work? When we are honest and true to ourselves then the brand naturally is our image. Then it’s easy to gain trust and be transparent to the new customer generation. In Brand Together, there has been given four principles which will create ‘sympathy for others’. These are relevant when working on all forms of collective activity.

Tatjana: The most interesting insight of the book was using co-creation for building brand. In my opinion, brand co-creation is a finely redefined method of the old-fashioned brand built by psychological impact of belonging and being desired to adjust to the needs of C generation. Traditionally brand symbolized social status, nowadays brand is being co-created by communities. It is very intriguingly explained in the book how companies like Starbucks, Mozilla, Activia/Danone and LEGO among others, are the living examples that the direction has shifted from brands pulling consumers, to consumers co-creating the brand. I agree with the authors that we, as consumers and C generation, became participatory through active expression of needs, likes and dislikes, and brand awareness, and have the hi-tech means for those expressions in very large communities. It is crucial for companies to establish transparent and honest connection with C generation. Co-creating in communities is a phenomena that will stay and evolve together with technology and in order to have a successful brand, companies need to become part of these communities and let them shape the brand that represents its values, needs and spirit.

Annaliisa: The role of social media in branding has change the organization’s way to be in touch with it’s customers and vice versa. Does it add the actual co-operation between the company and the user or does it increase the distance? Now we no longer need to be in touch directly to the company, we will seek the answers through our network of friends, members and mediators. How the company will then control their brand image when their role in customer service has change? How to be involved in customers conversation when they have their own network to give feedback and make the purchase decisions? Inviting them to be a part of the development and to give them greater responsibility in co-creation is one channel to get the insight of the customer.

The motivations to impact brand’s development varies a lot. Some people don’t want to be involved in large companies open product development because they feel they are helping them to roll the money straight to their pockets. Some see the potential to improve their daily lives by giving their voice of experiment to be heard in development process.

When creating together with the organization staff and the invited consumers, it’s necessary to be open to all movements, to learn, to admit failings and to be ready for the change. The creating process is iterative and it should go forward fluidly. The participants has to have the feeling that they are all equal so ideation is secured. They should be able to speak freely from their point of view and share own experiments from the matter. There still lies a danger if at the end of the project managers think they know enough and shuts down the collaboration with the consumers the conversation stops and it becomes again follow the same path as before. The process is ongoing and it should always be in state of evolving. When organization have this open community both connected to others and the brand can feel engaged and fulfilled.

Tatjana: I agree, that it is somewhat a challenge for organizations to involve even C generation into co-creation process. As C generation consumers, we are cost-aware, opinionated yet have a choice of how and with whom we share our insights. We have a choice between competing brands as well and expect our choices to be rewarded by companies. We know that we are source of inspiration for these brands. Time has become a valuable commodity and organizations need to optimize and streamline co-creation processes.

Digging way out – Thoughts about the book

Tatjana: I liked how book was logically divided into two parts, ‘Thinking it’ and ‘Doing it’ – and co-creating being focal point in both. I believe that, depending on the industry and customer segment, co-creation will bring more valuable and better measurable input than traditional market research. The old RDI will not be as fast, efficient and effective as co-creation in building the brand in such fast paced environment.
Annaliisa: Brand together  -book is a compact package to understand co-creation value in branding. It gives set of methods and tools to upgrade your brand with your customers by letting them to be involved in the development process. If you are interested to reevaluate your identity to face the future challenges this is the book you should have in your nightstand.
Tatjana: The book does explain quite well the ways and models for implementing and measuring co-creation processes. It does cover organizations, stakeholder and consumers point of views, and is reasonable and not as aggressive as ‘Blue Ocean’. Through co-creation, for C generation, the brand is more than just a label – it’s a lifestyle.

Text by Laurea SID students: Tatjana Odigbo and Annaliisa Salmelin
This blog post was created as an assignment in SID course New service development and innovative service systems.
Ind, N., Fuller, C., Trevail, C. (2012), Brand Together: How co-creation generates innovation and re-energizes brands, Kogan Page.

One thought on “Brand together – Book review

  1. Pingback: Experiences from the 5th Annual SID Seminar | Service Innovation & Design

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