Even doughnuts have gone digital. Between offering mobile alerts for hot doughnuts and interacting with evangelists on Twitter, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has set out to integrate digital programs into its customer interactions and relationships – while still staying true to the 76-year-old global company’s core brand DNA. In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him.

I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

The Krispy Kreme brand was built on word-of-mouth marketing.  We are fortunate that digital/social/interactive is today’s “word-of-mouth.” Things have really taken off over the past three years.

Q. What steps has your company taken to infuse digital business and skills throughout your business? 

Our belief is that to be truly effective in digital/social/interactive we have to engage people in a way that is truly genuine and authentic. In order to do that, a brand must first have a clear vision of its purpose. Fortunately, at Krispy Kreme we share a mission “to touch and enhance lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme.” That is our purpose and drives everything we do and every decision we make. We spend lots of time in the 22 countries we serve making sure that we talk about our purpose. From there, we can “let go” of the idea that we control the brand and allow our franchisees, team members and (more importantly) our guests to embrace the brand, communicate the brand and live the brand in their own unique ways.

We develop tools, templates and skill sessions to teach and empower our franchisees and team members to engage their guests and communities using these mediums. We know that if we have done a good job of helping them and making sure all communication is centered around our purpose… there is a good chance it will be authentic, well-received, engaging and shareable to our guests.

Q. What is different about the way your company runs digital programs now versus when you started out?

It has definitely moved past a numbers game. While we are coming close to 5 million Facebook fans and are excited about that number given we have less than 800 locations worldwide, we are much more interested in how we engage our guests and how they engage each other.

Q. What advice would you give to an eBusiness professional trying to elevate the role of digital business in their organization?

Don’t force it.  Your company has to have a unified and clear sense of its real purpose in the world and its place in the hearts and minds of people first.  Then, and only then, can you have a strong, meaningful, believable and engaging dialogue in the digital and social world.