How Twitter Is Weakening Its Brand

Larry LightNovember 16, 20225 min

A powerful brand is the consistent identity of a trusted source. A powerful brand reflects its trusted reputation for quality, leadership, and integrity, underpinning all stakeholder relationships.

A powerful brand is not merely a marketing concept. It is not an academic theory. It is not a line in an advertising slogan. A powerful brand is an asset. A powerful brand is an asset on a company’s balance sheet. A powerful brand is at the very core of accounting’s Goodwill. A powerful brand is valuable.

When a brand’s power diminishes, so does its economic value.

The back-and-forth decisions, the double-talk, the public real-time musings, the threat of bankruptcy are all eating away at the Twitter brand. Its brand power is draining away. Although never at the top of the lists of the world’s most powerful brands, since its inception, Twitter has had powerful global impact, politically and socially.

The frightening vacillations at Twitter are having a deleterious effect on the brand, its brand power and its value. At the same time, driving the chaos is the reality of funding the $1.2 billion annual interest payment on its $13 billion debt load.

A powerful brand relies on four “must-haves”:

  • Be a credible source
  • Have an excellent reputation
  • Be a pillar of integrity
  • Have a responsibility ethic

1. Be A Credible Source

  • Discussing the fiasco of the $8 blue check system where some people were pretending to be celebrities and brands, a director at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab told The New York Times that “… the quality and credibility of content on Twitter could suffer if fraudsters created confusion and amplified lies.” Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts said, “Selling the truth is dangerous and unacceptable.”
  • It is an imperative to be perceived as credible. Communications from highly credible sources are more persuasive. A credible brand acts as a “quality” cue lessening customer-perceived risk during customer decision-making. There are data to show that credibility makes decision-making easier. This is because the customer trusts the authority of a credible brand-business. Changing plans every day does not foster credibility. And, firing the entire communications, marketing, celebrity partnerships and human rights departments leaves the brand at a credibility disadvantage.

2. Have An Excellent Reputation

  • Having an excellent reputation means consistently and continually behaving in a quality manner. Reputation is all about the brand’s accomplishments. Reputation is based on the brand’s past. Think of reputation as the “collective representation” of a brand’s past actions and results. For the finance community, reputation means that the brand has been able … and will continue to be able… to deliver valued outcomes to multiple stakeholders. Whether you like Twitter or not, it has had accomplishments.
  • Reputation is the collection of stakeholder perceptions over time. As with value, reputation is determined by the perceptions of stakeholders. Twitter does not determine its reputation. Twitter’s reputation is in the eyes of the beholders.
  • Reputation can increase business performance. This is because a great reputation helps sell offerings at an increased margin and can help leverage a sustainable competitive advantage. Having a great, positive reputation would be of enormous value for persuading advertisers to come back to Twitter. A powerful brand’s positive reputation alters preference. A strong, trustworthy business reputation contributes to high quality revenue growth.
  • Losing a brand’s reputation is sinful. It is self-destructive brand mis-management. When a magazine like Playbill cuts ties with Twitter, it is time to take action. The CEO of Playbill indicated that in recent weeks, Twitter’s reputation for tolerating “hate, negativity and misinformation” left Playbill no choice but to remove its advertising and focus on Facebook and TikTok platforms.

3. Be A Pillar Of Integrity

  • Being a pillar of integrity means the brand recognizes that its relationships with all its stakeholders are valuable. Research indicates that responding to stakeholders with positive actions provides differentiation and/or cost advantage. This ultimately enhances a brand’s overall brand performance.
  • When the individuals responsible for oversight of internal and external relationships are fired or have quit, questions arise as to the brand’s commitment to integrity. When advertisers are wooed and reassured in person but whacked behind their backs, questions arise as to the brand’s integrity. The New York Times stated that Twitter threatened advertisers with “thermonuclear name and shame” if the brands cut off their advertising.

4. Have A Responsibility Ethic

If Twitter’s goal is to become a digital global town square where people discuss “a wide range of beliefs,” then being a credible source with an excellent reputation, integrity and a responsibility ethic are necessities. Making Twitter a profitable “trusted source of information and a haven from toxicity” does not happen in a vacuum. Brands can live forever but only if properly managed.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Larry Light, Author of The Paradox Planet: Creating Brand Experiences For The Age Of I

The Blake Project Helps Brands In All Stages Of Development Earn A Place In The Future: Get actionable guidance from experts on Brand, Growth and Purpose strategy.

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