Wikibrands: A book review by Bob Morris

Wikibrands: Reinventing Your Company in a Custiner-Driven Marketplace
Sean Moffitt and Mike Dover
McGraw-Hill (2011)

How the new levers of brand development achieve customer participation

What is the meaning of the noun “wikibrand(s)”? According to Sean Moffitt and Mike Dover, it refers to a “progressive set of organizations, products, services, ideas, and causes that tap the powers of customer participation, social influence, and collaboration to drive the business value.” They go on to suggest, “Derived from the Hawaiian word wiki, traditionally meaning `quick’ but more currently meaning `tribal knowledge’ and `a collaborative website,’ and the Middle English word torch, whose current business meaning is `a distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer.'”

My take is that the most powerful brands, wikibrands, are those that create multi-dimensional participation and multi-sensory experience in co-creation with an organization’s most loyal and most engaged customers. “In a connected world and cluttered marketplace,” Moffitt and Dover note, “brands are tapping into the instinctual human need for genuine participation, peer-to-peer dialogue, and shared media to survive and thrive.” They explain how to “get true brand engagement, customer experience, and social collaboration into the very nucleus of an organization and not leaving them hanging out on the periphery.” They make it crystal clear that this is not a marketing opportunity; rather, this is a business opportunity. “It’s a big, cultural driving force…a pragmatic road map for winning in the current marketplace.”

As I worked my way through the lively and eloquent narrative, these are among the portions that attracted my attention in Chapters 3-8.

“The Seven Divides: Compelling Reasons to Change” (Pages 21, 23, 25-30)

“Top Factors in the Changing Importance of Social Media, Word of Mouth, and Community Building (Figure 2.1, Page 22)

“Eight Customer Experience Norms” (Table 2.2, Page 24)

“The Six Benefits of Wikibrands” (Pages 50-62)

“Seven Key Language Principles” (Pages 107-112)

“Community Participation Motivations” (Table 8.1, Page 132)

“Six Classes of Influencer” (Pages 136-138)

Note: An influencer is someone who has significant influence on the values, opinions, preferences, and consumer behavior of others.

It is important to keep in mind that the information, insights, observations, caveats, and recommendations provided by Moffitt and Dover were revealed during wide and deep research and are anchored in real-world situations, many of which involve global “wikibranders” such as Accenture, Best Buy, Cisco, Disney, FedEx, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nokia, and Procter & Gamble.

That said, I presume to suggest that the core principles as well as the most effective strategies, and tactics of wikibranding can also be of substantial value to much smaller companies such as family-owned retail franchises. Those who doubt that are urged to check out “Eleven Ways to Develop a Wikibrand” (Pages 278-286) and “Fifty-Question Assessment: Readiness for Brand Community” (Pages 286-2388) in which Sean Moffitt and Nike Dover provide material that, all by itself, is worth far more than the cost of several copies of this book. Is it that valuable? Read it and judge for yourself.


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