Nate Elliot, a principal analyst at Forrester said in a blog post titled How To Build An Interactive Brand Ecosystem that “leading your brand with interactive marketing isn’t about choosing one channel over another; it’s about rethinking how all our marketing channels work together.” Nowadays, interactive media is playing an equal role as traditional media in engaging, communicating, and persuading consumers. Hence it has become increasingly difficult for marketers to position one specific channel as the centrepiece of a campaign, because it’s hard to tell which one is more important than the other. We believe that co-creation with consumers can help find the right balance and make everything work together.
Most marketers have realized the importance of building a brand ecosystem where all components co-exist with one another and work together to deliver double or even triple impact. An ecosystem has to stay organic so that everything that flows in and out stays fresh and maintains a healthy metabolism. A constant flow of ideas is what stimulates growth and vitality in this ecosystem – ideas that stimulate, inspire and connect all components together, keeping the whole complex alive.
If we see agencies, media, and consulting/research firms as the spines and bones of the complex, idea must be the flesh and the blood
How to keep generating fresh ideas to keep such a brand ecosystem might be the most difficult challenge in the marketing world today. Marketers want fresh ideas, and they need them fast. However, we know that the system is not self-sustaining. It doesn’t necessarily produce ideas effectively enough. Without regular injection of ideas, the system will atrophy and die.
Agencies are working hard to come up with new ideas, but it takes too much time and resources, while marketers are always concerned that these ideas might not resonate with consumers. These external ideas could in fact produce a toxic reaction. And the process of validating these ideas with consumers for compatibility is adding extra miles and extra cost.
This does not meet the needs of marketers who, under our current stagnating economy, are all aiming for cost and process efficiency. To support a vibrant brand ecosystem, an easier and more effective way would be to actually reach out to consumers as a source of ideas. This addresses the need for speed, creativity and consumer-rootedness.
Co-creation gives the brands an option to connect the consumer with the brand ecosystem in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner
There is a process to work more effectively with consumers. It does not involve a media or a creative agency. It opens a door leading straight to a « magic factory, » a place full of fresh ideas from the most creative minds among consumers: co-creation. On top of that, co-creation opens another communication channel, aside from the traditional or digital channels we’ve been talking about all the time. A new channel where consumers can regularly feed opinions and ideas into the system, right from the start. Co-creation accelerates the ideation process from the beginning by generating meaningful ideas reflecting the true relationship between the brand and the consumers.
By unlocking the creative power latent in consumers, it becomes easy to inject a healthy flow of ideas into the brand ecosystem
Unlike a blood transfusion, you don’t need to worry about incompatible blood types. With co-creation, ideas at the start come from a source that is similar to where they will end: consumers. And these ideas stay fresh and vital because they do not come from a single creative team locked in a cube but from millions of consumers all over the world. Consumer-generated ideas will fuel the brand ecosystem, speed up its interactions and allow it to be more powerful and relevant. If brands can put co-creation at the heart of their ecosystem, it will act as a powerhouse or a pump, providing vital energy to the entire, fueling it not with water or electricity, but with the lifeblood that keeps brands fresh and relevant: true creativity, directly from consumers for consumers.