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Be Brand Social in 2010 December 31, 2009

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Branding, Conversations, Social Media.
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As the world gets ready to welcome another brand new year, it’s a good time to get a pulse of where social media is headed to in 2010.

In his ‘6 Social Media Trends to watch out in 2010’, David Armano says that social media will be ‘more popular, more exclusive and more mobile’.

Among other predictions, Niall Harbison believes social media will focus more on the ‘quality of information’ than the ‘quantity of followers’.

Jackie Huba says that what was hot in 2009 will be out in 2010. Her prediction for 2010: social gets integrated into business functions. And about time that happened.

Marketing Sherpa and MediaPost report that social media marketing budgets will increase in 2010, largely at the expense of other media.

B. L. Ochman predicts that blogs amongst other social media channels will become the hot ad medium of the year and ad agencies will finally take the lead in social media.

Brian Solis reminds us that the future of interactive marketing lies in the ‘golden triangle engagement’ – a converging point of social, mobile and real-time web.

Brian Morrisey hits the ball out of the park when he says that marketers will/should treat social media as an integrated part of a digital strategy, than as a stand-alone area for experimentation.

In ’10 Ways Social Media Will Change In 2010′, Ravit Lichtenberg says that ‘social media will no longer be social media’ but a ‘single, cohesive experience embedded in our activities and technologies’ and ROI measurement of social media engagement will matter ever more than before.

What are your social media predictions for 2010?

My belief is that more enterprises and brands, especially in the Middle East and other social media nascent markets will get on the social media bandwagon with varying measures of success.

Some of the challenges they will face are lack of social media expertise, issues of controlling the message, trying to conform this ‘new social way of communications’ with the traditional way of brand communications, being transparent in conversations,  pains of creating value over noise, constraints in marketing budgets and working with ‘people who know the real deal’, the pressure to prove ROI at the outset of social media engagement, the diverse challenges in communicating with Arabic and English-speaking audiences etc. That was a handful, eh?

My recommendation to brands who are stepping into social media waters in 2010 is to use your social media experimentation to rethink your digital strategy (if you already have one apart from a corporate website). Social works best when it is in sync with your digital activity.

If you are smarter, you should be taking lessons learnt from social media and applying them to your current marketing strategy. You should be thinking more on the lines of what could work better for you in the present than what has worked well for you in the past. You should also be keeping a close watch on your competition as well as what other social media savvy brands around the world are up to. Learning from their successes and failures shortens the curve for you.

Your marketing should be tied to goals – measurable, attainable and contributing to your bottom line. And to get there, you will need to work with pros who straddle the new age domain of ‘integrated’ brand communications with relative ease  – a world where advertising, digital, social media marketing and public relations blend together seamlessly.

This post is inspired by ‘Being Brand Social‘, a recent column I wrote for BusinessToday, a leading business publication in the Sultanate of Oman. The article introduces social media, discusses what’s in it for brands and explains why many brands struggle with social media marketing. Click here to read.

Happy social media 2010 to you!

Image source: Future or Bust. Vermin Inc on Flickr.

A few thoughts on Brand Oman January 26, 2009

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Branding, Conversations, Digital, Oman, Social Media.
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brand oman logo

Yesterday, national brand mark of the Sultanate of Oman was unveiled. This logo is an initiative from the Oman Brand Management Unit (OBMU).

Firstly, why is the need for Oman to go into national branding?

It’s important to project a favorable image of the country, especially after understanding how the country is presently viewed within its borders and overseas. There’s a heightened interest about Oman globally, considering its unique tourism appeal and its relative resilience in the current economic situation.

In the words of His Highness Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, who heads OBMU:

“We’re a relatively small country and generally little known.”

“Now is the time to identify what unique qualities Oman has to offer and balance this with what consumers actually want from us.

“Understand our compelling truth and look at what we have — natural resources, beauty, minerals, culture, infrastructure, education, technology — and then match these deliverables to what is really wanted from a global audience.

Here’s an explanation of the logo mark on Times of Oman.

From what I have seen of the Oman Air corporate rebranding exercise last year, I know that whenever a new logo is unveiled, you have two sides of opinion. Some like it. Some don’t.

A lot of local people do not get that the logo mark is calligraphy that reads ‘OMAN’. (I just did a small dipstick survey). People get it when I tell them it is calligraphy and ask them to read for a word. The hues are very refreshing. However, it’s only when you read the rationale that you understand the mighty burdens resting on the humble logo. Some have said the colors are similar to those in the logos of Oman Oil Marketing Co., Nawras and Renaissance Services in Oman. Read some comments in Sangeetha Sridhar’s post in the Digital Oman blog.

My point is: there’s no going back to the drawing board. From now on, it’s about how effectively you get the message across different touch points about what Oman means as an international brand.

Oman Tourism Logo

This is the current OMAN logo that is used by the country’s Ministry of Tourism, mostly used for promoting destination Oman. It’s likely the new ‘Brand Oman’ logo will take its place. How do both the logos compare?

Also, the new Brand Oman logo will not only be used to promote the tourism aspect of Oman, but also the national, international, commercial, industrial, economic, cultural, sports facets of the nation. I expect this logo to be present on any banner to do with Oman with a national or international purview… from summits, events, activities, campaigns, tournaments, festivals… you get the big picture.

It’s very disheartening that the Brand Oman website is not up and running. Please note that it’s www.brandoman.om and NOT www.brandoman.com.

In this age of social media, there’s no better medium that digital to reach out your message in a more compelling and conversational manner. I will recommend a URL that does not have ‘brand’ in it. To an end user, the word brand does not mean anything i.e. convey a positive, impressionable attitude. It’s more about ‘OMAN’ than the ‘BRAND’.

Try this: http://www.brandoman.om vs. http://www.amazingoman.om or just http://www.oman.om

Assuming you haven’t visited the website, which URL gives you a better image of the country?

A new print campaign has appeared in the local newspapers unveiling the logo with a message ‘Our universities are our legacy’. It’s too early to comment before knowing how it will unfold.

The challenge in the coming days is how interestingly OBMU will tell the story of Oman to the world. How various communication activities pertaining to Oman that happen across diverse touch points will be synergized to convey a single message, both locally and internationally? How will you bring in the voices of the amazing mix of people that make up this country?

All the best, ‘Brand Oman’!