LinkedIn - Building the Brand

Today’s brew is for Linkedin,
Brew Date: 8th June 2015
Type: Served Hot – Redefine and Transform brew.

To understand the business model of Linkedin, check out the following links:

The Brew will analyze Linkedin on the following points:
a) Business Analysis
b) Improvisation to Business Strategy (Not required, the frameworks are all laid in the Business Analysis part)

Linkedin is a business-oriented social networking service, with a mission to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. When one join’s LinkedIn, one gets access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help them be great at what they do.

Though Linkedin defines itself as a business oriented social network service delivering varied utility to its Users (the firm has developed offering solutions on Marketing, Talent and Sales), it fails to understand the reason of its operating model of existence vis –a – vis the Consumer Needs and as the result has undermined the process of value creation, its transfer and sharing in its operating model.

a) Business Analysis:
1) Core Proposition of Linkedin:
Though Linkedin does not have a tech competence (despite being a technology led offering), it offers a value proposition, that many other social networks can put their entire bets on. LinkedIn belongs to the era where Brands have been hailed as a panacea for solving most important human needs (irrespective of their ability to deliver). Infact, The ability to create a Perception built on strong principles has been one of the biggest business inventions of all times.

To highlight the importance, the world is no more divided and measured in to Countries, but more so by the Brands. And the brand game is not limited to Companies, its transcended to People, to entities and to every other thing or an activity, which can be experienced and offered in the dimensions of Time, Money and Utility.

The basic value prop of Linkedin aptly is the need and desire for everything, and everybody to be a Brand. And it is this Consumer need that Linkedin should ideally build its competence on, while offering solution rather than the existing ones (which unsuitably divided in to talent, marketing and sales solution rather than having a holistic Brand Solutions approach).

Linkedin will have to build a Tech competence aligning with the Consumer need of offering them Branding Solutions (at various levels – users, products, offerings, organizations etc)
LinkedIn, along with establishing the Tech competence (discussed somewhere below) will have establish 2 things in particular:

a) An ecosystem which consist of all such Brands on the principles of Branding (Creation, Value, Enhancements, Value Promises, Capturing the recall, feedback etc.) along with the Interplay of different Brands (in Competing and Collaborating approached), which can enable these principles to effect.

b) A Measurement Framework (Brand Equity & Branding Framework) which identifies the gaps and semantics (absolute and relative) across multiple platforms and offers solutions to enhance, build, and re-instill the brand promises, ultimately leading to differentials in the measurements. Building a Technology Competence to realize will create a strategic advantage for Linkedin to reap high results to Human Potential Value Chain.

2) Aligning and Enabling the Ecosystem to the Core Proposition:
Having understood the relevance of the consumer needs, LinkedIn’s solutions should enable entire ecosystem (Users, Products, Orgs, etc) to align and work on the similar principles.

The framework entails giving its elements, an opportunity to select their Brand Promises, along with the existing Social Network offering to enhance these promises, and with an interplay of Users, Products, Offerings, & Orgs to affect / effect each others brand score.

With this Framework, there are 2 offerings, which Linkedin can offer to its stakeholders:
1) A Brand Enhancement solution with respect to their brand promise and key parameters (mostly lag in terms of monetization, popularity, expertise etc.)
2) The other offering is an Enabler to the above solution, in existing realms of a Social Network with an Interplay possibility of its elements.

3) Developing the Framework with Tech Competence:
More than building the framework, Linkedin will have to create a tech competence to enable effective solutioning of consumer needs.  Until now, it has been highly focused on the concept of borrowed innovation by acquiring firms which serve its core purpose, but being relevant at the core will require Linkedin to enable a high tech competence aligned to the Brand Management frameworks in transferring value to the stakeholders.

4) Leveraging the Competence to extend Linkedin solutions:
With the enablement of the framework along with establishing tech competence, Linkedin can enable various value add solutions, foremost and importantly, Offering Relevant Solutions to be more effective to create value, analyzing all its elements, the Users, the Organisations, Teams etc. by providing insights to effective combination of Users, Work, Results and Rewards defined with the help of Linkedin solutions.

Bcos Linkedin is a social network for professionals, its commodity offering which binds its elements on a common fabric is Work / Set of responsibilities assigned, activities and hence its important for LinkedIn to have dimensions of these set activities (Work, Responsibilities, KPI’s) and making them with the Brand solutions. The aim is to align these activities with the brand value propositions, resulting in enhancement of both. These solutions can be extended, primarily in all sets of conditions (at user level, intra org, inter org, team level, etc).

5) a Platform model for Offerings
The Solution offerings of Linkedin need to be on a platform and marketplace model leveraging the framework of LinkedIn’s tech solution and the offering independent solutions using various modes.
Basically, For Users, some of it can be crowdsourcing of activities which will add to their brand scores, or offering them Mentors, Coaches, Behavioral experts, Tech experts etc to enhance their product value and ultimately, their brand value.

Linkedin is an enabler to Branding solutions, but not a provider of branding solutions (here is where, acquisition of Lynda seems dysfunctional and non aligned to the strategy of Linkedin), along with its platform marketplace model to deliver those solutions.

6) Enabling Multi – Platform Holistic approach for the Branding Framework and Mechanism, basically, encapsulating all the major engagement channels used by the Consumers to track and understand User’s perception and behavior (pre and post consumption) vis a vis a brand value promises.

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