Consumer engagement is not brand ownership

No matter how important customers are, marketers need to remember that the true brand owners are company shareholders

This is not to say, of course, that the consumer isn’t important. As David Ogilvy famously wrote (in those sexist Admen days in the Sixties)/ “The consumer isn’t stupid. She’s your wife”. The consumer is your customer – to be loved, listened to, cherished and served with the best possible product or service you can deliver. But that doesn’t make him or her an owner – any more than a cinema goer owns the movie or a child eating a Happy Meal owns the McDonald’s brand.

It’s also not to say that the medium in which you communicate isn’t important either. Marketers today have a wonderful choice of channels to showcase their wares; the chatroom and Twitter feed are as important as the market stall and pub table to previous generations of salesmen and marketers. Email and video-on-demand are the phone call and soap opera of the Seventies. It’s clear you need to understand them and use them because that’s where your consumer is.

But equally, they are still media channels and it’s dangerous to confuse the platform on which you advertise with what and how you advertise. That remains the day job of all brand managers.

So, don’t confuse ownership of your brand with consumer engagement with certain media channels. You formulate the product, you design the packaging, you agree the brand name, you sell-in the distribution, you set the pricing and you decide the marketing campaign. Lazy marketers can let consumers with crayons colour in the next pack design but these are one-night stands not a long-term change in the relationship between brand owner and brand user. Let your consumer enjoy your brand message in the chatroom or the pub, but make sure he or she buys your product time and again in the real world.

Ownership drives responsibility. Brand management means managing not abdicating.

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