A recent global survey highlighted that 70 percent of people think that most of what brands do is not relevant to them. Upon review of award-winning campaigns, I have noted that many win awards for short-term results. (In fact, IAPI quotes that for 75 percent of the cases on its data bank are based on short-term cycles). That is not to say that they do not merit rewards, it is the short termism that is our focus. Activity that is focussed in the short term can often be reactive and can be centred around triggering sales rather than changing behaviour for the medium to long term as well.
Many clients come to us come having won lots of awards, but have brands that are losing connection with their consumer. By only focussing on the next campaign, marketing can forfeit relevant shifts in creating brand behaviour that will result in fostering long-term habits and sustainable growth, in favour of spikes and a few awards.
Brands must start thinking about how to be relevant and how to impact on culture. To do this, they need to be a part of people’s lives; to do something for people, not just say something. They need to have purpose that will cause people to develop behaviours that result in habits. They do not need marketing hype – they need to connect at a richer, deeper and more human level.
This means we need a new approach to marketing, to brands and to strategies. We need to find a way to consider brand as growth lever, not as part of a short-term campaign. We need to consider it as a potential lever than can be a critical part of people’s lives – if it finds a real role there – over and beyond function.
Airbnb and the Nike+App are good examples because they created significant new behaviours by enabling people to do the things they love in a new way. Their approach to delivering their story and message is authentic and true for them. Brands that do this are brave, they consider marketing as more than communications. Brands that do this well consider every facet of the experience for the consumer. They understand how to create a strong cultural relevance.
This means we need to use different types of research to investigate and observe behaviour and how people use products and brands. We must look past the obvious to understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. It gives us a greater sense of purpose in our day-to-day lives, as we dig deeper to get to richer and more exciting places. The answer is often different to what we were looking for and we must be accepting of this.
The rewards are significant and worthwhile, but only those who want significant growth and have a long-term commitment and horizon need apply.