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The Book

Wikibrands: noun

a progressive set of products, services, organizations, ideas and causes, tapping the powers of customer participation, influence and collaboration to drive value

Derived from Hawaiian word “wiki” meaning “quick” – which now refers to “a collaborative website” – and “brand” from the Middle English word “torch” meaning “a distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer”.

Wikibrands represent the future of marketing, and with their ascendance, the world of marketing will see a fundamental shift in long-embraced brand management tenets.

Since 1875, when Bass Ale registered the first branded trademark, brands have become a controlling force in the marketplace: something customers search out, trust, want, prefer or love. In many companies, the brand has become the single most important operating and financial asset.

Fast-forward to today’s marketplace: the industry of branding is faltering. The practiced and predictable branding assembly line of traditional marketing, broadcast media and advertising gimmicks is coming apart. Paid media is in ruins, agencies are scrambling and marketers are losing company turf battles.

What happened? The consumer woke up. Through social media, consumers discovered their voice in the brand conversation. Examples like “United Breaks Guitars” show how a shoestring-budget video can attract the attention of millions of people to a relatively routine dispute between an airline and a passenger. It will take a lot of traditional marketing spend to counter the effects of Dave Carroll’s clever song and video. Social media is not just a fad. Consider that MySpace, YouTube and Facebook – none of them more than six years old – get 250 million unique visitors per month. More video is uploaded to YouTube every two months than NBC, CBS, and ABC could have aired if they showed new content (no reruns) 24/7 since 1948.

Five years into the mainstreaming of social media, smart companies are finally figuring out how active customer participation can drive their business forward. In many countries, Frito-Lay has run successful contests in which consumers create commercials that air during the Super Bowl or develop new products with impressive creative and payout performance. Dell Computers claims to have sold more than $5 million worth of product through its Twitter channel. And these successes are not limited to a few big brands.

In a connected world and cluttered marketplace, brands are tapping into the instinctual human need for genuine participation, peer-to-peer dialogue and shared media to survive and thrive. Word-of-mouth. User generated content. Social media. Microblogging. Prosumerism. Online Communities. Crowdsourcing. Customer-driven experience. Customer rating systems and forums. It’s all so powerful, exciting and new. But what’s a brand to do?

Inspired by Don Tapscott’s best-selling Wikinomics – How Collaboration Changes Everything, comes Wikibrands. Wikibrands – How to Compete in a Customer-Controlled Marketplace is part wake-up call, part action plan; a book that dives deep into business to provide a rigorous and lively examination of what successful brands are really doing to win in a customer-driven world. Illustrated with dozens of examples, Wikibrands explains the business philosophies, brand approaches and new tactics these brands are using to tap into customer-driven influence.

Seasoned brand executives and digital thought leaders Sean Moffitt and Mike Dover are not partisan cheerleaders. They have successfully operated between these polar worlds of brand development, customer collaboration and the social Web to challenge key assumptions, debunk myths and get to the heart of the matter. Moffitt and Dover share hard-won lessons and a roadmap on how to use the powers of customer collaboration to work not just for Web startups and personal brands, but for large companies and their brands as well.

Drawing from multi-million dollar research projects, studies of hundreds of brand/ customer collaborations and direct interviews with hundreds of leading executives, marketing leaders, digital and online community architects, the authors have identified:

  • The ways in which successful brands compete in the twenty-first century,
  • The motivations for these brands to venture into customer collaboration, and
  • The nine elements of successfully building and managing a Wikibrand.

From leading mass media stalwarts Nike, Frito-Lay, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, to digital enterprises Cisco, Microsoft and Sun, to customer experience experts Westjet, Best Buy and Starbucks, to turnaround successes Dell and Ford, to loveable underdogs Method, PEMCO, Dave’s Killer Bread and Fiskars and to wide-eyed startups like Freshbooks, Stormhoek and Zappos, we look under the hood and chronicle the practices of these model companies. The currency at play within these companies is no longer mass communication and passive consumption but customer participation and genuine brand engagement.

In Wikibrands, business leaders, brand owners and enlightened startups will learn about the new imperatives for successful brand building and driving business value WITH – not AT – their customers.

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