I saw that the Center on Public Diplomacy is conducting research on national brands based on information gathered at the Shanghai Expo, and it got me thinking about strong national brands and how they are managed. The host of the Shanghai Expo has a strong brand and a very carefully managed one. Tightly managed national brands tend to be restrictive when it comes to human rights and free speech. After all, how can you manage a brand when people are spouting opposing views?
We don’t worry about a tightly managed national brand in this country. In fact, allowing people to express opposing views is part of our brand. There are many companies today that are reluctant to dive into social media, because they are afraid of losing control of their brand. The idea of giving their customers a voice in the perception of their company is extremely unnerving. The companies who have successfully adopted social media practices into their business have already learned that customers may say some scary things and may even post your logo upside down in a blog, but well managed brands continue to thrive. They know that customers always owned their brand. They just express their opinions to more people at a faster pace with social media.
Restrictive nations could learn something from companies that are using social media successfully. Treat your customers and citizens well and the wisdom of crowds will prevail.