Brands are expanding the roles they play in people’s lives and developing multi-dimensional relationships with their audiences. They have to. In order to be successful, I believe brands need to adapt and be brave enough to engage on the consumer’s terms: to flex and deliver a relevant experience across all points of encounter.
As caretakers of successful brands, marketers will increasingly need to play different roles themselves: to be readily prepared to shift from brand manager to community manager, from brand guardian to brand journalist, from content creator to curator, from leader to listener.
The long-term implications for capability are enormous: marketing departments will reinvent themselves — new skills will be required to facilitate and enrich these new relationships. In the short- to medium-term, companies will be forced to rely on new processes or partners to enable them to adapt their brands to consumer desire.
Digital media creates huge opportunities for real-time data gathering in the service of brand responsiveness. But this potential is inconsistently used and monitored by brands. Gatorade has taken a stand on the importance of live digital conversations and performance with the establishment of its “Mission Control Center” at the heart of its HQ.
The center acts as a physical war room for monitoring the brand’s performance online and boasts six monitors providing data visualization. Most famously, the center monitors online discussions about the brand on social media, but it also carries out proactive social media outreach and monitoring of the sports landscape as well as tracking brand attributes, media performance and sports trends. Closely following sports results and news keeps Gatorade on top of the conversations that fans are having and able to anticipate trends.
Concrete outcomes of Mission Control include everything from site optimization to extending a 60-second ad tune into a full-length track available for download in 24 hours, in response to heavy discussion of the track on social media. Gatorade aims to move from being the largest sports brand in the world to the largest participatory brand in the world, and its Mission Control set-up equips it with the all-important flexible consumer-centered mindset that will position it to achieve this goal.