How Brands and Customers Jointly Shape Value Creation

The Desiree Team
June 12, 2023
Brand ownership has always been complex and dynamic, with the relationship between brands and customers evolving. In today's business landscape, brand ownership has become even more complicated, with customers playing a more significant role in shaping the brand's identity and success.

Brand ownership has always been complex and dynamic, with the relationship between brands and customers evolving. In today's business landscape, brand ownership has become even more complicated, with customers playing a more significant role in shaping the brand's identity and success.

The traditional view: companies own brands

The traditional view of brand ownership revolves around the belief that companies are solely responsible for creating and controlling brands. In this perspective, companies invest considerable resources, including marketing efforts, advertising campaigns, and product development, to shape a brand's identity, reputation, and personality. Customers, on the other hand, are considered passive recipients of the brand's offerings.

Under this traditional view, brands are seen as entities that exist separately from their customers. The company determines the brand's positioning, messaging, and overall image, with little or no direct input from customers. Customers are expected to align with the brand's values and preferences without actively participating in the brand-building process.

Companies employ various strategies to shape and control their brands. They meticulously craft brand guidelines, develop consistent visual identities, and establish brand messaging that reflects their desired image. Advertising and marketing campaigns are designed to communicate the brand's unique selling points and create brand awareness among the target audience. Through these efforts, companies strive to create a strong brand image and foster customer loyalty.

Customers, in this traditional view, are seen as consumers who make purchasing decisions based on the brand's reputation, perceived quality, and overall image. They are passive recipients of the brand's offerings and their role is primarily limited to buying and consuming products or services.

This traditional view of brand ownership assumes that companies possess all the knowledge and expertise required to build and manage a brand successfully. It places the company as the sole authority in defining and shaping the brand's identity, while customers are viewed as largely passive recipients.

However, this traditional view is evolving as companies recognise the importance of engaging customers in the brand-building process. They are realising that customers are active participants who can contribute valuable insights, feedback, and co-create value alongside the brand. This shift in perspective has given rise to a new understanding of brand ownership – one that emphasises collaboration and recognises the power of customer involvement in shaping the brand's identity and driving its success.

The Dynamics of Brand Ownership

However, this traditional view of brand ownership has become outdated in today's dynamic marketplace. The advent of social media, online communities, and instant communication has given customers unprecedented power and influence in shaping a brand's identity, reputation, and personality. In this new landscape, customers are no longer passive recipients, but active participants who have the ability to influence and co-create the brand.

Customers now have platforms to share their opinions, experiences, and recommendations about brands and products. Through social media channels, online reviews, and word-of-mouth, customers can amplify their voices and reach a wide audience. Positive experiences and advocacy can enhance a brand's reputation, while negative feedback can significantly impact its image. The power of customer influence has shifted the balance of power, forcing brands to listen, engage, and respond to customer feedback.

Moreover, brands now actively seek customer input and involvement in the brand-building process. Companies are recognising the value of co-creation, where customers are invited to contribute ideas, provide feedback, and participate in the development of products, services, and brand experiences. By involving customers in this collaborative process, brands tap into their collective wisdom and insights, ensuring that the brand resonates with the target audience and meets their evolving needs.

This shift in power dynamic has led to a more customer-centric approach to brand ownership. Brands are now encouraged to engage in meaningful conversations with their customers, fostering open dialogue and building genuine relationships. Brands actively listen to customer feedback, adapt to their preferences, and integrate their insights into decision-making processes. Through this active engagement, brands not only enhance customer loyalty but also gain valuable knowledge that helps them refine their offerings and stay ahead of the competition.

Furthermore, the rise of user-generated content has further blurred the lines of brand ownership. Customers are now creating their own content, such as reviews, testimonials, and social media posts, which can shape the perception of a brand and influence others' purchasing decisions. Brands that understand the power of user-generated content leverage it to amplify their reach, build trust, and harness the authenticity that comes from real customer experiences.

In this evolving landscape, brand ownership is no longer solely in the hands of companies. It has become a collaborative process where brands and customers interact, co-create, and mutually influence each other. Brands that embrace this shift and actively engage with their customers as partners in value creation are more likely to thrive in the modern marketplace.

The dynamics of co-creation of value

The key to harnessing the power of customer influence lies in creating a customer-centric culture, fostering meaningful engagement, and embracing collaboration. Brands that prioritise customer co-creation as an integral part of their business strategy are well-positioned to adapt to changing market dynamics, exceed customer expectations, and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

1) Active Engagement

Brands need to actively engage with their customers across various touchpoints. This includes listening to customer feedback, responding to inquiries and concerns, and initiating meaningful conversations. By creating opportunities for dialogue, brands can gain valuable insights, understand customer needs and preferences, and build stronger relationships based on trust and transparency.

2) Collaboration

Brands can invite customers to actively participate in the brand-building process through co-creation initiatives. This involves seeking customer input, involving them in product development or service design, and incorporating their ideas and suggestions. By collaborating with customers, brands tap into their creativity, innovation, and diverse perspectives, leading to more customer-centric offerings.

3)Customer Feedback

Brands should actively seek and leverage customer feedback to improve their products, services, and brand experiences. Regularly collecting and analysing feedback helps brands identify areas for improvement, address customer pain points, and enhance overall customer satisfaction. By acting upon customer feedback, brands demonstrate their commitment to meeting customer needs and fostering a customer-centric culture.

4) Authenticity and Transparency

Brands that embrace customer influence recognise the importance of authenticity and transparency. Sharing behind-the-scenes insights, showcasing real customer stories, and being open about their brand values and practices builds trust and strengthens the brand-customer relationship. Authenticity is crucial in fostering customer loyalty and advocacy, as customers are more likely to engage with brands they perceive as genuine and transparent.

5) Empowerment and Recognition

Brands can empower customers by providing platforms and opportunities for them to share their experiences and contribute to the brand's narrative. User-generated content, customer testimonials, and customer-driven campaigns allow customers to become brand advocates and influencers. Recognising and rewarding customer contributions not only strengthens their connection with the brand but also encourages others to engage and participate.

6) Continuous Improvement

The co-creation process is an ongoing and iterative cycle. Brands should continuously seek customer insights, monitor market trends, and adapt their strategies accordingly. By staying attuned to customer preferences and evolving market dynamics, brands can proactively innovate, refine their offerings, and maintain a competitive edge.

By actively involving customers in the brand-building process and leveraging their influence, brands can drive value in several ways. They can gain a deeper understanding of their target audience, develop products and services that align with customer needs, enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately increase brand equity and long-term success.

Sticking to your word

At the heart of successful brand ownership lies the fundamental principle of keeping promises. A brand is not merely a logo, a product, or a marketing campaign—it is a promise made by the brand to its consumers. It represents a commitment to consistently deliver on the values, principles, and experiences that the brand stands for.

When a brand makes a promise, it sets expectations for consumers. These promises can be explicit or implicit, communicated through advertising, brand messaging, product features, customer service, and overall brand experience. Consumers rely on these promises to make informed decisions about whether to engage with a brand, purchase its products or services, and establish a long-term relationship.

Keeping promises is crucial for building trust and credibility with consumers. When a brand fails to fulfill its promises, it can lead to disappointment, erode trust, and damage the brand's reputation. On the other hand, brands that consistently deliver on their promises cultivate loyalty, advocacy, and a strong brand reputation.

To keep its promises, a brand must have a clear understanding of its values and what it stands for. This involves defining its brand identity, mission, and core principles. By aligning all aspects of the brand—from product development to customer interactions—to these values, a brand can ensure that its promises are authentic and consistent.

Consistency is key in keeping promises. Brands need to deliver consistent experiences and quality across all touchpoints, whether it's the product itself, customer service, packaging, or marketing communications. Consistency builds trust and reassures consumers that the brand is reliable and dependable.

Furthermore, brands need to actively listen to their customers and understand their evolving needs and expectations. This requires ongoing market research, customer feedback analysis, and staying attuned to industry trends. By being attentive to customer feedback, brands can identify areas where they may need to adapt or improve to better meet their promises.

Transparency also plays a vital role in keeping promises. Brands should be transparent about their practices, sourcing, and any potential limitations or challenges. Open communication with customers helps manage expectations and fosters trust.

When a brand consistently delivers on its promises, it establishes a strong emotional connection with its customers. Consumers not only appreciate the product or service but also feel a sense of alignment with the brand's values and purpose. This emotional connection creates brand loyalty and can even transcend individual transactions, leading to long-term customer relationships.

Challenging the notion

While customers have a voice and can influence brand perceptions through social media and online platforms, it is crucial to recognize that not all customer feedback carries equal weight. Companies have the autonomy to carefully evaluate and incorporate customer insights into their strategies, ensuring that their brand remains aligned with their vision and goals.

Additionally, companies have legal protections and intellectual property rights that safeguard their brand assets. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents provide companies with the legal means to protect and control the use of their brand identity, logos, slogans, and other brand elements. This control enables companies to maintain the distinctiveness and integrity of their brand.

While customer preferences and market trends may influence brand strategies, it is ultimately the companies themselves that make strategic decisions and steer the direction of their brands. They have the final say in shaping their brand's value proposition, target audience, and overall brand positioning.

In challenging the idea that companies lack complete control, it is important to acknowledge the evolving nature of the relationship between companies and customers. Successful brand ownership requires a delicate balance between engaging customers, understanding their needs, and leveraging their insights, while also maintaining a clear and consistent brand identity that reflects the company's vision and values.

By recognising the shared responsibility of both companies and customers in shaping brand perceptions, we can foster a more nuanced understanding of brand ownership dynamics. This understanding encourages collaboration, adaptability, and strategic decision-making that ultimately drives brand success in a rapidly changing business landscape.

So, as we contemplate the dynamics of brand ownership and the concept of brands keeping their promises, let us reflect on the evolving role of customers, the impact of social media and user-generated content, and the need for brands to be adaptable and transparent. By doing so, we can continue to explore new possibilities and redefine the relationship between brands and customers in a way that is mutually beneficial and resonates with the changing dynamics of the modern world.

In this era of interconnectedness and customer empowerment, it is the symbiotic relationship between brands and customers that truly shapes the trajectory of a brand's success.


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