What struck me the most in preparation was how drastically the form in which brands used to sell themselves had shifted in the past two years.
Branding in business used to be very much an Us vs. Them mentality. Great big shiny walls were put up by companies signifying that ‘we’ are superior to ‘you’ and you need us.
However, as Social Media continues to proliferate our lives, a brand's biggest ambassador or critic is now a mere mortal who has the incredible power to voice their opinion on a global scale. The smarter companies are realising that in order to get these people away from the dark side and over to the light they have to been seen as one of THEM.
To be heard and understood is one of the most intoxicating elements of human existence. It goes right into the psyche of the ego (which is what triggers us to ‘buy’). It screams YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
Marc Mathieu, SVP Marketing for Unilever recently said,
"Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it, nots it's about finding a truth and sharing it".
This is a direct reflection of Marketing in 2017 where conveying a HUMAN CONNECTION is the BIGGEST trend.
REAL Human Connection works when people see a TRUTH in what you are promoting.
Take a look at two of the most successful campaigns (from both a social and commercial perspective) from the past six months.
Notice the use of the cameraman and production equipment in the actual advertisement itself. The aim is to make this to look as raw, real and truthful as possible because it is a way of establishing a trust with the viewing audience (i.e. yes we use cameramen and production equipment and we want to show you this because you are so smart and get that this is a television commercial BUT we are shooting REAL people)
We can also learn a lot about Marketing trends via pop culture. We are all so used to shiny, polished, manufactured boys and girls grinding to an overproduced, fabricated beat it barely makes us blink.
Then, in 2016, in walks the likes of Amy Shark and Gretta Ray.
Gold Coast girl Amy Sharks song Adore struck such a chord it was played across all commercial stations right through to taking out the number two spot in the Triple J Hottest 100 2016.
Take a look at this video clip and notice what she is portraying to her audience.
She was real and audiences fell over themselves. She allowed them to feel again. ( We won't even start discussing Ed Sheeran right now but you get the point).
Don’t get me wrong this is STILL marketing and branding and the bullshit still exists. The Kardashians are still bigger than Ben Hur but it's just that as more savvy customers we can chose if we want to be part of it and let it leave it's mark or walk around it. Plus as humans we still have an instinctive desire to believe that politicians and brands still care for us, even just a little bit.
If Authenticity is revealing your truth, ACTIVISM is putting money where your mouth is and living it BOLDLY.
Once upon a time we were told Business and Personal life should be separated. Heck it took me years to allow any business connection on my personal Social Media page.
But as individuals WE are our brand. Our business can’t promote one thing and us as a human another, that doesn’t make sense to people any more because it's not real.
My generation grew up being told not to discuss politics, sex, religion or money at dinner parties.
Now it is almost expected. Due to our behaviour in the digital world, an opinion or actively taking up a position on the side of the fence indicates that we are human and more-so that we care. In business this is becoming more imperative.
The big boys know this and have used it to their commercial advantage whilst making you fall in love with them for their social stance.
Check out ANZs most successful advertising campaign in 2016.
The lesson in this for branding is that sometimes it’s okay to get off the fence and put your personal views out there.
Finally, and this is not just relevant for 2017 but for ANY time in branding a business, it is essential you Find the Erogenous Zone in your business that can lead to the Sweet Spot of your customer.
Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, your business is really no different to your competitors and their competitors. In 2017 it is no longer enough to differentiate by the 4 P’s.
You’ve got to dig deeper and find the special bits that will draw customers to you like bees to honey. Like other activities where this is important (!) once the customer finds it, it's addictive. They won’t want anyone else’s touch but yours.
I understand it's not always easy finding your those erogenous zones for your business and knowing how to translate them into messages that connect is even trickier. That is why I am here so please contact me if you need assistance.
For now start thinking about if and how your business is currently real and relevant for the audience you are aiming to reach. As a reminder:
- Remove the jargon, find the human connection, your truth, and share it.
- Don’t be shy to occasionally take a stand. It shows you are human.
- Find your Erogenous Zone. Master it. Own it. Use it on your clients sweet spot every chance you get.