What’s new and next in brand marketing? … Exploring the best ideas and practices in brands and marketing
October 10, 2017
“It’s a complicated and noisy world … and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us” mused Steve Jobs back in 1997, just before his decade of greatness … “so that chance to make a memory, is the essence of brand marketing.”
Whilst quoting Jobs is perhaps not seen as cool these days, he was a genius of branding. And having just returned to Apple, he recognised that one of their biggest challenges was their brand. “A brand is not so much about rational arguments” he argued “but the way that the company resonates with people emotionally.”
“Nike sells a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don’t ever talk about the product, they don’t ever talk about their air soles, how they’re better than Reebok’s air soles. What’s Nike do in their advertising? They honour great athletes and they honour great athletics. That is what they are about.”
Branding answers the question of what are we here to do?, he said “Our customers want to know, “Who is Apple and what is it that we stand for? Where do we fit in this world?” What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done, though we do that well. We do that better than almost anybody in some cases. But Apple’s about something more than that: Apple, at the core, its core value, is we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe.”
That communication would turn into advertising history:
20 years later, what are the best ideas and next practices in brand marketing?
In some ways not much has changed. The challenge for most brands is still about making that shift from inside-out to outside-in thinking, to build a brand around their customer’s world, defined by a relevant purpose that in some ways makes life better. But its also fundamentally changed, from a world where broadcast push of average messages (advertising) has been replaced by new types of social, personal engagement. Some brands do it perfectly, like RedBull, others still struggle, like Coke.
Brands in a customer-centric world … How do brands work at a higher level to create more value for customers?
The customer-centric brand, is about the customer not the business, about their aspirations not the products … therefore brands are about enabling customers to achieve more (e.g. Airbnb belong anywhere, Nike to perform better, Lego to play better) … therefore the brand reframes the context in which we engage customers, to a wide platform through which we support customers to do what they aspire to do, better
The customer-centric brand narrative, is therefore about a bigger idea, about more than communication and devices … our opportunity is to engage people in this bigger context (e.g. Red Bull’s Air Race is not about energy drinks, but adrenalin experiences), Nike’s events are not about shoes (but Rockstar Workouts, or whatever engages the target segment), similarly all content, promotions etc.
The customer-centric brand experience, is also therefore about a bigger idea – its not simply “the touchpoints with the organisation” but the experience which the customer has in doing what they do (e.g. making mobile payments, taking better photos, finding new friends, monitoring business operations etc).
2. Making monolithic brands relevant and personal … How to connect brands to multiple segments/propositions?
The framework for connecting monolithic brands and CVPs, making brands engaging to each audience in different, relevant and practical ways … from marketing communication and delivered experiences. Learning from customer-centric brand proprosition models like Umpqua Bank, and its implications on the business to deliver in relevant ways
Aligning products and services, prices and incentives, to the propositions in smarter ways, to achieve clarity and maximum perceived value, whilst also reducing complicity and cost. In particular using relevant partner brands to build affinity bridges with other brands that a most resonant with each audience
How this makes the brand more multi-dimensional, more pull than push, and how to retain the consistency of a brand strategy whilst also multiple meanings and executions. Specifically what it means for brand identity, brand messaging, and service styles online, and within stores and call centres.
3. Communicating content in fast and social markets … How do we connect all the content together for more impact?
Connecting the brand stories together so they become “liquid and linked” – learning how Coca Cola turn all these fragments Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram messages, online blogs, sponsorship activities, multi-channel, activities into a coherent and progressive story that has structure and progress. In particular, when most of the content is created from outside not inside.
Being fast and responsive in communication across all media – moving from the old model of planned campaigns and push execution, to a more dynamic model that is “realtime, relevant and responsive” so that media assets can be aligned and executed within minutes, in order to connect with topical activities, or to address problems. Learning from Nestle Digital
Aligning these together for more impact, understanding the new metrics of customer-centric, digital-enabled, realtime brand marketing … both in tactical KPIS, but also how it can be actively managed to optimise sales and profitability, and ultimately to enhance and protect brand reputation, and enhance the economic value of the brand
4. Brands in action, building brand communities … How do we use the power of networks, to achieve more together?
What is brand trust and loyalty … Trust is low, loyalty is rare … so how do we engage people, build relationships that endure retention and advocacy amongst our audiences? – Today’s winning brands, Lego to Snap, Google to IBM, is facilitate relationships between them, rather than try to have relationships with them (the old CRM) … a community with a higher purpose, to achieve more together.
Bringing more brand partners together to achieve the higher goals of the community, and for a brand to take a lead facilitator role in being that – like Rapha brings together the passion of cyclists – more than bikes and clothing, it gives them a place and a club, stories and dreams, to share. This community becomes the gateway to customer-centric solutions, and brand portfolios.
Using the brand community to achieve more – from co-creating and co-selling, to co-supporting and co-empowering … building on previous successes to achieve more – and in particular to fuse digital and physical assets together in more innovative ways – stores, events, bills, phones – whilst also exploring new revenue streams.
Explore more about brands:
- Article: Bolder Braver Brands
- Article: Building Brands like Pixar make Movies
- Article: The New Luxury
- Article: Winning Private Labels
- Book: “Brand Innovation”
- Book: “Gamechangers: Are you ready to change the world?”
- Workshop: “Brand Innovation Lab: Unlocking the real value of your brand”
- Workshop: “21st Century Brand Safari: Learning from the world’s most innovative brands”