With the growing influence of retailers, consumers, supply chain, etc., leadership is forced to redefine the terms of brand management. These “indirect influencers” will take over a brand, driving customer perception and interaction. Historically, marketers’ sphere of influence and oversight would be enough to counteract this onslaught. Today, digital elements and social media make it very difficult to monitor omni-channels, putting the brand at risk of improper influence.
When the brand isn’t “stolen,” marketers want to leverage the celebrity of bloggers, entertainers, etc. to promote the brand’s benefits. The marketer allows others to be a “surrogate”: one who stands in the place of a brand’s parent, but who is not the parent. Unfortunately, the positive impact of the “surrogate influencer” is usually limited and short term. They create social chatter; the buzz generated does not usually lead to loyalty, sales or leads. As a result, the brand wastes valuable resources and time.
Collaborating and co-branding can be viable and beneficial methodologies to building brand equity. However, allowing a partner to be a surrogate is very dangerous and frequently harmful.