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  • feedwordpress 22:26:30 on 2017/02/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , Responsive Brand   

    In The Rush to Remain Relevant: Brands Must Reevaluate ROI 

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    Relevancy-of-technology-in-today’s-life (1)
    If a brand is irrelevant in our lives—it is a brand on the decline. Some brands have to work harder than others to remain relevant. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and other brands that we interact with on an hourly, daily or weekly basis are easily made relevant in our lives given our interactions as users. Other brands often have to work harder to remain relevant. 

    This year's Super Bowl is a good gut check for brands who will be working to remain highly relevant in the hearts and minds of consumers already in a committed relationship with the brand as well as those who aren't. Advertising and brand storytelling often reflects the culture, trends and increasingly the societal issues of the day. But in bringing the three together it also presents a tall order for today's brands who will likely hit the target with some and totally miss with others:

    Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 3.38.54 PM

    The context of which we live in often reflected by entertainment, news, media etc. 

    What's getting our attention at the time—things that impact how we live and work ranging from technology to art, music etc. 

    Societal Issues:
    The topics of our time reflecting social-economical and cultural context. The things we debate or deem critical to society. 

    Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 3.53.37 PMSource: NPR

    Many advertisers during this year's big game find themselves at the intersection of culture, trends and societal issues. As a result, they are going to need to answer the question of "was it worth it" in a more nuanced ways. On face value—measuring the effectiveness by a Super Bowl ad in terms of views is the most traditional way to do it. But for brands who are dialed up at the intersection of culture, trends and societal issues—measuring views will not be enough. They must also break down sentiment indicators such as:

    • Likes/Dislikes
    • Positive Responses (media, social, search)
    • Negative Responses media, social, search)
    • New Subscriptions and Followers
    • Lost Subscriptions and Followers

    Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 4.12.44 PM

    One of this year's Superbowl Ads which is operating at the intersection of culture, trends and societal issues is Audi—taking on equal pay through its ad and subsequent hashtag #Driveprogess. From Adweek:

    The 60-second spot, posted Wednesday to YouTube and Facebook and closing in on 5 million views as of noon Friday, has a remarkably high ratio of negative sentiment—almost 40,000 dislikes to just 4,000 likes. There are two separate criticisms—one, that the ad is simply leftist propaganda; and two, that it is hypocritical because of the company’s heavily male leadership team. (Audi AG’s board of directors, too, has six men and no women.)

    The Pressure to Remain Relevant for Brands In a Politically Charged Culture is High
    2017's Superbowl advertising is a reflection of today's culture in that brands increasingly feel the need to be a part of the dialogue despite societal divisions—so we're likely to see more brands attempting to be relevant at the intersection of culture, trends and societal issues. As a bonus—it also demonstrates a level of "responsibility" especially if the brand feels like it's taking the right stance on the right issues. However, success in this space cannot be discerned by reach alone. Sentiment metrics will become increasingly important for brands asking the question:

    "Was it worth it'? 

  • feedwordpress 17:56:06 on 2017/02/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Responsive Brand   

    The Action-Reaction Cycle: Consumer Activism Ignites Brand Response 

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    We're entering a new era of consumer activism as a result of societal divisions, a lack of distrust in once trusted institutions such as media and the mainstreaming of peer to peer information sharing enabled through social media. But how far should brands go to take a stance?

    Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 11.32.09 AMSource: Vanity Fair

    The answer to this question is as complex as the issue itself. For some brands, it's a matter of public perception, for others— a matter of principle and for others, it means aligning the values of their brand with the values of their consumers: 

    Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 4.05.16 PMSource: Greatcompany.org

    Taking a Stance Is Not Without Risk
    This Sunday, Budweiser will be airing an ad that takes on the issue of immigration head on. It does so in a powerful and emotive way—tying it to to its heritage and making the case that the brand would not be what it is today without immigration. 

    Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 11.42.16 AM
    Source: The Virginian Pilot

    Budweiser's message for what they stand for and believe in is clear—but the question left unanswered at this point is how the message will resonate with the millions of consumers who have affinity for the brand. Will some cheer the move while others feel alienated by it? Will the typical Budweiser consumer appreciate the not so subtle stance? For every action there is a reaction which prompts a response from brands and for Budweiser, what's yet to be seen is the full reaction to their message. 

    Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 11.18.35 AM

    Balancing Consumer With Brand Activism
    If we're seeing a perfect storm for consumer activism, then by logic the cause and effect becomes a form of brand activism. And this is where brands will need to do a gut check on their values and the alignment with the values of their consumers. Much like how social sentiment and search engines provided indicators for what people REALLY thought about Donald Trump—brands will have to have the finger on the pulse of their core consumers now more than ever. The stakes could not be any higher for the relationship between consumer and brand.  

  • feedwordpress 21:54:25 on 2017/01/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Responsive Brand   

    The Rise of Consumer Activism in an Era of Distrust 

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    Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 2.54.43 PM
    Consumer Activism: Just Getting Started
    Since the inauguration of president Trump, we've seen protests seemingly organized on a dime whether it be The Women's March, The March for Life or the recent immigration protests at local airports. These actions, however will not be limited to the protests in public but also in protests of the purse or at least the #hashtag. Case in point—when Uber announced that it would be removing surge pricing to pick up the slack caused by NYC cab drivers who joined immigration protests it was seen by some customers as profiting from an issue they vehemently disagreed with.

    And from this, the #Deleteuber "movement" was born with people screen grabbing their deletion of the app, swearing allegiance to Uber's competition and encouraging peers to do the same. While consumer activism isn't new by any stretch of the imagination—today's record levels of distrust in once trusted institutions (see Edelman's Trust Barometer) combined with peer connectivity sets the stage for a dramatic increase of the phenomena.

    Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 3.09.14 PM
    From Brand Awareness to Consumer Activism
    For brands to raise their level of readiness in an era where consumer activism becomes more commonplace—marketers must think about four key stages in addition to the traditional funnel. Each stage carries with it a positive or negative impact for a brand. 

    + Positive: Consumer has general awareness of a brand and its values and finds them relevant
    -  Negative: Consumer has low awareness of brand and its values and brand is not relevant 

    + Positive: Consumer has a high affinity for the brand and preference as a result 
    -  Negative: Consumer has low affinity for the brand and does not show loyalty 

    + Positive: Consumer will recommend brand to others and actively promote it 
    -  Negative: Consumer will speak negatively about brand and actively criticize it 

    + Positive: Consumer will actively defend or take action which benefits brand
    -  Negative: Consumer will actively take action which damages brand (reputation or financial)

    Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 4.40.56 PM
    Source: Buzzfeed

    Earning Trust in an Era of Consumer Activism 
    Emerging societal demands and divides combined with peer connectivity provide the perfect storm for consumer activism and brands must find ways to earn not only the loyalty but trust of their consumers. Edelman's 2016 Earned Brand study outlines that most brands engage consumers in a way that interest and involve them but fall short of getting them invested to the point where consumers would advocate on their behalf or act as "activists" in their favor. 

    Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 3.29.06 PM
    Some brands are taking a proactive stance as this emerging dynamic intensifies. *Starbucks recently committed to hiring 10,000 refugees in in five years while clearly articulating their values. AirBnB announced that stranded refugees could stay for free and Lyft pledged a million dollars to support the ACLU.

    Handle With Care: Consumer Activism Will Force Brands to Examine Their Values
    If nothing else, consumer activists will force brands to ask themselves "what do we stand for"? The biggest risk for a brand in dealing with a low trust environment is to act inauthentically, contrived or in a way that feels opportunistic. Still, consumers will continue to evaluate brands not only by how relevant they are in their lives—but how responsible they feel they are. Or to put it another way, how much they feel they have in common in terms of their values. If a brand today cannot express or articulate those values—it risks leaving its intent and action open to interpretation.  

    *Starbucks is an Edelman client

  • feedwordpress 15:44:16 on 2016/01/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , Responsive Brand   

    Hero, Hub and Hygiene: Where Marketing Meets Publishing 

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    Q: When should a brand act like a publisher?
    A: Ad blocking software

    You find yourself watching an entertaining series starring your favorite celebrity and Jerry Seinfeld. Or maybe it's your favorite internet cat celebrities joining forces in a holiday themed music video. Or it's a *satirical article from The Onion showing up in your Facebook feed. What the above have in common is the fact that none of them are the advertising most of us grew up with on our televisions or even desktops for that matter—but they are all working in the service of brands and organizations. 

    Welcome to the age of brands as publishers—designed for mobile screens, Google algorithms, social news feeds and driven by essential success metrics: "sharing and subscribing". 

    A brand marketing meets publishing model is nothing new, nor is the Hero, Hub, Hygiene approach coined by Google originally as an approach for YouTube. But as many brands are finding out, adding the nimble publishing approach to your existing global behemoth marketing machine is a daunting task. Just like any significant shift organizations must make to any part of their business—marketers both at the brand and agency level must find common ground in how they define major components:

    Brand Platform
    A common mistake made in the worlds of marketing, branding and advertising is confusing a campaign with a brand platform which is akin to confusing a banana with a banana tree. For the sake of clarity—"Dove Campaign For Real Beauty" is a brand platform, while Dove Sketches was an activation that evolved into campaign like territory. As referenced in Building Modern Brands—a brand platform is foundational in nature and modern brands are evolving to reflect not only rational and emotional benefits, but articulating what they stand for in a societal context. Can campaigns be derived from brand platforms? Yes, but they are more evergreen in nature vs. moment in time and should influence all activations no matter how strategic or tactical.  

    Unlike a brand platform—activations are more time and context sensitive. These are your programs, campaigns, events and other activities that will range from highly strategic and pre-planned to highly responsive and in the moment. Activations should be strategically aligned to the brand platform but also possess the flexibility to expand contextually. These are the ways the brand platform comes to life over time.  

    Hero activations are where brands place their big bets. Typically these are the global integrated marketing campaigns though increasingly they can still be big bets without ever coming to life in traditional channels like television. These can also be big communications and engagement activations involving media and influencers. Regardless of classification, brands often times don't support more than one to two of these annually and sometimes they can extend beyond a single year. 

    Hub activations can be more frequent and are often times less ambitious than a Hero campaign. Partnerships with media companies or digital influencers for example can often fall into Hub territory. Depending on the nature of the brand or organization—Hub activations could be as few as quarterly or as often as monthly. The rise of native advertising and sponsored content is currently fueling the popularity of Hub activations that don't always directly support a specific Hero campaign. 

    Hygiene activations can fall into the "always on" "daily" or "content engine" classifications. Often times, Hygiene activations require multiple publishing touch points such as social channels or Web destinations. Barilla for example aggregates both Hygiene, Hub and Hero content onto its "**Passion For Pasta" Tumblr. Hygiene activations can be as frequent as daily and in some cases even hourly. 

    Hero, Hub and Hygiene all have two things in common:
    1. Activations across all three must be coordinated.
    2. Increasingly, they require a blend of a "marketing meets publishing mindset" in order to scale and operationalize.

    And it is here where many organizations will face challenges. Integrated marketing is an apple while publishing is an orange. Increasingly brands will need both in order to remain relevant in the search engines and social news feeds of consumers and customers. To do this—marketers will have to genetically splice that apple and orange together to create an entirely new fruit, designed to work around the ad blockers and entice consumers to pause, take a bite and pass it on. 

    *The Udder Truth was created by Dairy Management Inc. in partnership with Edelman 
    **Passion For Pasta is a Barilla Group activation executed in partnership with Edelman

  • feedwordpress 16:22:12 on 2016/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Responsive Brand   

    Building A Modern Brand: Strategy, Creativity and Agility 

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    Building brands in the mad men era was a relatively straight forward endeavor...

    A brand needed to effectively communicate its value to the consumer, plainly stating its functional benefits and for the more enduring brands—connecting with consumers at the emotional level typically through a story told via television led advertising campaigns. The most iconic of brands over time, mastered the art of really digging into the "soul" of a brand. How it was differentiated from others and how it should be expressed in all parts of the world. 

    Building brands became something of a religious pursuit, with high priests and gatekeepers of brands in place to ensure that a brand did not become diluted. These guardians of brands created all kinds of doctrine meant to keep a brand's value proposition pure and true. Brands have always been built and expressed based on how they met consumers needs at the rational and emotional levels. More recently, brand stewards have been grappling with the notion of a brand's "purpose"—industry shorthand for how a brand's "values" take into account societal context. Can a brand stand for something bigger than itself? Does it exist for a higher purpose? Is there a cultural tension point that a brand has a right to participate in (or lead) a conversation around? 

    Data from Edelman's Brandshare study concluded that today's consumers look for and evaluate their relationship with a brand beyond traditional rational and emotional benefits into areas that veer into societal. Well over half of 10,000 consumers polled globally indicated that brands having a clear "mission and purpose" influenced how they felt about that brand. 

    In short, today's marketers must ask themselves—does our brand stand for something? Does it stand against something else?

    It is this tension point that takes us back to the drawing board when it comes to the "soul" of a brand. But we cannot divorce this exercise from how a brand must be brought to life. The re-visiting of a brand's foundation requires taking another look at how it comes to life an today's always on, multi channel world. Modern brands must master the relationship between these three key facets for how brands sustain their relationship with consumers after answering what it stands for and against:

    It's tempting to think at the program level (campaigns, etc.) that once a foundational brand strategy is set—we can go right to ideas and tactics both big, medium and small. Avoid the temptation. Strategy at the program level should be the nucleus of any program and it should inform and influence all ideas. It should present clearly the balance between meeting business, brand and consumer/customer objectives. 

    Never has creativity been so important. People are rarely motivated by statistics and logic—but rich stories and experiences can lead to desired action. However, telling stories and designing useful, usable and desirable experiences requires out of the box thinking. Stories don't get shared by people unless they are exceptionally compelling, entertaining or educational. There are thousands of apps to compete with and digital influencers can often times build audiences better than brands can. Creativity is now complicated. 

    Probably the newest and most disruptive dynamic out of the three. Most brands grapple with agility because they are still operating in a construct built for the industrial broadcast era of marketing. As I've outlined in Responsive Marketing, it's adding a layer of smaller more nimble initiatives than can help inform and even optimize the bigger more comprehensive programs that are still linear in nature. What both layers have in common is that they must move away from the launch and walk away model and move toward a model that puts various "things" in a live environment and adapts along the way. Google's Ben Jones recently pointed out the elephant in the room when it comes to agility:

    "Advertising has radically shifted to be more agile, useful, and relevant in the always-on age of mobile. Yet the foundation of creative work, the creative brief, remains largely unchanged."

    The creative brief shouldn't go away, but if you truly buy into the notion of agility then the doctrine of briefs and briefing must become more dynamic than static while preserving the ability to influence big, medium and even small ideas. 

    It's been said that the more things change, the more they remain the same. In the context of building and preserving brands—this holds somewhat true. A brand becomes a brand only the the hearts and minds of consumers. And today's consumers have ever evolving values, demographics and technology/lifestyle habits. We didn't walk around with super computers in our pockets years ago and millennials are a far cry from baby boomers.

    Modern brands will be built and re-built on foundations which reflect these evolutions but they must come to life informed by strategy, inspired by creativity and designed for agility. 

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