I spent last weekend preparing for a workshop on brand management that I am leading shortly. The turn of events in the last few months set me thinking. As did this survey that I read recently: Spending on social media and conversational marketing will outpace that of traditional marketing by 2012, according to a new study conducted by TWI Surveys, Inc. on behalf of the Society for New Communications Research.” (Source: PR Newswire).
Make your brand last…that’s the mantra most marketers including myself are taught in B-schools. Make it visible and make it salient. So off one goes, creates an identity for the brand, designs fancy multi-million dollar campaigns, gets a cool brand ambassador and then sit back, relax and enjoy the adulation. Right? Wrong. Without seeming too clichéd, there is obviously something more that will ensure longevity of brands.
The contrast between a Citibank and an HSBC is too obvious not to notice. Both are highly visible brands, having a huge global footprint. So why is it that today, the two evoke different sentiments in the minds of the consumer. Its not a coincidence that HSBC has a better association with the values in the geographies it operates than Citibank, something that regular advertising and marketing cannot help much with. What is it that forces Loreal to keep The Body Shop brand alive, despite the fact that spend zilch on advertising?
I am beginning to get convinced that traditional marketing, with run-of-the-mill campaigns will become obsolete if they are not firmly integrated with a strong non-traditional marketing mix using third-party channels, both physical and online media.
Its obvious that all marketing must lead to trial. Today, trust and consumer confidence in a brand is by far the most important attribute. Non-traditional is better at driving trial because it acts as third-party peer validation. And today, such validation is imperative and perhaps the most powerful driver in marketing. It also comes the closest to approximating an actual experience when “someone like you” – endorses the brand attributes, be it a media editor, a third-party champion, a subject matter expert blogger or other consumers.
Trial creates the opportunity for experience, but that experience had better not disappoint!! There must be alignment with the brand attributes, and the consumer needs to be made aware of those attributes before driven to trial. The consumer must be brand aware, brand attributes must be delivered as a brand promise, and the brand experience must live up to the promise. Any break in the sequence is the difference between success and failure.