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We are living in a branded world, we can all agree on that. Clever and flashy brand campaigns still have an impact, but as society becomes even more marketing savvy and as social media becomes more prevalent, this will start to slowly change. What will separate good companies from great will be a sense of transparency that fosters relationships with customers. An article by Andy Gould in Ad Age gives some great examples of how the digital age and high customer expectations have changed the shopping experience.
There isn’t much we haven’t seen from brands these days, from winning advertising, to blow out marquee events that as costumers, we have come to expect. The element of surprise is mostly gone, and we have come to want more out our shopping experiences. We no longer rely on adverting or the company’s website to get our information on the brand. As our personal and online networks grow, so does our ability to make more educated decisions about products and services we buy and what brands we identify with. Blogs, online communities, user generated content and social networks are starting to be a real influence. Even the late adapters that are not participating in any forms of alternate media are connected to those that are, so the message will eventually reach them.
The relationship audiences have with brands has changed; audiences actually have come to expect a relationship, a dialogue and something of substance. Living in a branded world means that we have come to identify with brands and believe our opinion should be heard. We should somehow be included in the brand’s story. Bombarded by options and choices, audiences can feel entitled, because someone out there will give them just what they are looking for. This holds true for products, experience and even people brands (celebrities, politicians, athletes and any other public figures)
What does this really mean for brands?
Providing Real Value in Messaging—This stems from knowing one’s costumers. Brand should be able to provide information that will show how that brand will solve their costumer’s problem or how it will enhance an experience. Going beyond a tag line and demonstrating through content, social media communities, or events why the particular brand must be interwoven into a costumer’s life.
Engaging Requires Listening Too—In order to truly engage a costumer, it is a two way conversation. What will compel the consumer to start a conversation? It all comes back to value-by providing something of value, one if more likely to start that conversation.
Transparency—Knowing what a brand stands for seems like common knowledge, but it is not always the case. Whatever the brand stands for needs to be communicated through every form of customer engagement it takes on. Consistent messaging and follow through on that messaging=transparency.
The rules for successful marketing and winning over costumers are changing. Brands that are “control freaks” will have a hard time in this very open market place.