Marketing departments in the corporate world are simply obsessed with the desire to have control. If you think this claim is exaggerated, you are probably not familiar with the requirements for using the corporate logo and corporate identity of any large company. In some of them, there are whole manuals with dozens of pages about how the logo and other visual elements can and cannot be presented, how many millimetres from other components in a media they can be placed, where they can and cannot appear, in what context, and so on.
The problem is that, with the development of new technology
platforms in recent years, this process is becoming more difficult and, to a
great extent, meaningless. If in the traditional media environment, including
newspaper advertisements, TV spots or billboards on the streets, corporate
marketing departments could control everything, this becomes impossible with
the digitalization of advertising and, above all, of consumer communication.
Today, everyone in the industry – from advertising agencies to marketing
managers in companies – speaks enthusiastically about the way the digital
environment changes marketing. That’s why it is strange why almost no one
changes their behaviour in line with this trend. Instead, most practitioners in
the industry continue to behave as if it is not happening.
Here are some examples of new technologies that show how difficult
it is to control corporate identity in the digital environment.
As we have already mentioned in Economy Magazine, the so-called
augmented reality is a technology that unifies the real world around us with
virtual content on the screen of a smartphone, computer, or another device.
After the accident at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of British
Petroleum in 2010, which caused one of the largest ecological catastrophes in
history, activists developed the mobile application Pollution in Your City.
Through it, anyone could direct their phone to the logo of British Petroleum -
for example, at a gas station, on a transportation vehicle or even on the façade
of their corporate headquarters – and as a result, virtual pollution started to
“pour out” of it.
What is special about this is that the creators of the application
have used the logo of the oil giant as the focus of their criticism towards
them, and thus, any company building, business site, vehicle, or other form of
corporate identity. Every company logo around the world could become a message directed
against the company. The ease with which this has happened is also impressive –
anyone who wants could just download a free mobile application in order to turn
the BP’s logo into a source of pollution.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an area that the marketing
departments of modern-day companies don’t underestimate and in which they invest
significant resources. However, there are many cases when, even when they type
their own brand in the search engines, they find negative results on the first
The reason is that Google and other search engines on the Internet
often bring independent sources on its first pages, such as media, forums, etc.
that can hardly be overtaken by the company’s own digital resources. In
addition, a marketing department cannot control what is written in media
articles and forum comments, what tags (labels) are included under them and
what links are embedded. As a result, a huge number of companies find that
among the first results related to them in Google, there is criticism of poor
service, negative opinions from employees in employers’ forums, etc.
Recently, the case of an American restaurant got famous within the
marketing circles, which for many years enjoyed great popularity, while at a
certain moment, the number of visitors surprisingly began to decrease. This
unexplainable loss of interest lasted for months and eventually led to the
bankruptcy of the restaurant. And the worse was that the owners did not even
know what the reason was. It turned out later that a “well-wisher” registered
the restaurant on a popular online cartographic platform and wrote there that it
had moved. Since the staff of the restaurant had no experience with digital
services at all, they did not suspect the cause for a long time. The conclusion
is clear: the fact that you are not interested and do not understand anything concerning
the Internet does not mean that your business is not already there.
The type of services, such as the famous in the near past Foursquare
or Waze, offer a variety of information or services based on the location of
the user. In Foursquare, for example, anyone who wanted could register a
virtual site on the place of a real restaurant or shop and then become its
“mayor”. In this way, physical businesses practically acquire virtual
duplicates without having any control over the communication and content in
them. Simply because, even if they are landowners, the companies cannot own the
rights on the navigational coordinates of their commercial sites. That’s why
any “virtual world” application can create other content there.
The full scale of the problem became apparent when the augmented reality
game Pokémon Go was introduced, allowing us to pursue virtual Pokémons on the
real streets around us. The problem is that these computer-generated beings are
scattered at random places, including shopping malls, restaurants, private
properties, nature parks, and even mining fields from wars that took place a long
time ago. All of this brings forward the question whether a company, a public
institution or an individual can claim the rights on the virtual world that “is
found” in its physical location. However, such a thing is unlikely to be
regulated by law, but with the introduction of new and new services, this will
become an ever-greater challenge for marketers.