A lost or stolen identity for a person is traumatic and costly. For organizations the loss of identity creates market doubt and financial disaster, potentially affecting thousands of lives. Today's business is much more than a brand or logo. Social identity defines who you are, your credibility and the ability for people (potentially billions) to connect to you both literally and figuratively. However Social Identity is not brand, it's actually broader and more powerful. Today, "Social Identity" as found in Facebook, Pinterest and popular media is woven into the fabric of society.
The last year has brought us two key examples of social identity crisis: The Presidential Election and JcPenny’s. Incumbent President Obama didn't win the election, Mitt Romney's lack of social identity lost it. The Democrats built a powerful and integrated brand strategy that enabled their voice through social media. They were able to get voters into the polls using the influence of today's social identity. JcPenny's on boarding of high-flyer Ron Johnson from Apple was a great and strategic move. Johnson made bold changes reflective of his success with Apple's retail outlets. However, he didn't take it far enough nor does this article from Business Insider "Ron Johnson's Attempt To Fix JCPenney's Brand Was Completely Backwards." Both talk about change and brand alignment but they miss the mark in today's highly connected and social on-line world. The store changes were great but the message wasn't pushed out to the end consumers with a consistent and socially aware strategy. Instead, every pundit challenged the model and Johnson let them go unanswered.
I've praised T-Mobile's game changing approach to the mobile subscription; yet I think they are failing to create a Social Identity. Recently, T-Mobile released a typical western style TV spot that starts with a typical scene of bad guys riding into town to have “people do what we want.” One of the four states he’s ready for something better and dons a [T-Mobile trademark] magenta hat stating he’s ready for something better. Pink cowboys and an iPhone in every store store don't create an identity. T-Mobile is creating a disruptive and contrarian force in the market. In my view, these themes must be woven into every message; otherwise they are JAV (Just Another Victim).
The series on Social Identity has become the topic of choice for changing markets. Read more here:
- Stop Worrying About Privacy, Start Caring About Identity - Wired Magazine
- Protecting Your Social Identity: Six Steps to Saving Your Business - Retail Minded
- Five tips for managing the enterprise social identity - Tech Republic
- Creating a Social Identity is Crucial For Brands - Loyalty 360
The question then becomes, “Who’s next?”