Real Time Brand Management?

I understand brand as a collection of products, marketed under common name/trademark by a specified company.  While the brand is “owned” by a company, perhaps a symbolic image of a brand resides within the minds of consumers.  Formerly, when tenative threats were made to a brand, it could take months for it to be publicly identified.  Social media has altered the timeframe to mere minutes.

Recent blogs discussing the topic of real-time brand management were based on the March 13 Virgin America flight detained for more than 4 hours due to inclement weather.  I find the debate quite interesting.   The story suggests passengers and crew on this flight became quite restless and nerves were waning.  During this time, David Martin, the CEO of, utilized a social media app on his IPhone to “share” the unbelievable experience.

This effort initiated a phone call to Martin from a Virgin marketing officer with a $100 voucher proposal for his inconvenience.  His response was that all the passengers deserved more.  Subsequently, he was called by Virgin’s CEO, David Cush where Martin maintains he negotiated a full refund and a $100-per-person voucher for all passengers.

While you cannot amend the acts of Mother Nature, I am concerned that spontaneous reflexes such as this will begin to emerge when they are more likely very expensive patches for inadequate customer service processes or poor brand management.    A deeper analysis of root causes for poor customer experiences with a goal of the these causes systematic elimination constitutes a real “function” of brand management.

In response to the Virgin account John Sviokla suggested, “Every company must have “a brand radar system” to constantly monitor social media.”  He also states in a recent blog for the Harvard Business Review that businesses need to adjust to the new reality of being “on stage” at all times.   However, Real-time brand management is more than responding at the speed of a tweet.  Conceivably, we should strive for real-time identification, monitoring and analysis of customer feedback in an effort to develop a consistent set of rules that makes our brand stand out. 

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