The other day, I found myself thumbing through The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, a book that always captivates me with its drawings of graceful naked bodies. And then it suddenly struck me: I quite clearly saw the connection between the art of the Renaissance and branding in the digital age – nakedness and humanity.
Let me elaborate on it! Today, smart brands realize that branding is more about showing their human side, and less about being perfect. They let go of fear of losing control over their brand and have started developing strategies that embrace their nakedness, in order words – they are becoming transparent. How are they doing it? Through understanding of the human needs and shared values, and fostering a strong connection between the brand and the customers. Hence, the smart brands are focusing on: collaborative storytelling, building relationships, and listening and trust building.
Creativity is one of the highest human needs that the smart brands have learned how to utilize. One of the biggest challenges brands face today is the difficulty to control their brand story telling and dissemination since customers are reshaping the brand stories through their personal stories. Therefore, instead of focusing on total control, the smart brands embrace this phenomenon. Their brand marketers invite the customers to take part in the creative process of brand story telling. They provide them with authentic and compelling narratives which are in line with the brand core values and business objectives, as well as the customer interests.
A great example of collaborative branding is the video below by Ken Arlidge. When Coca-Cola’s ad agencies ran out of ideas, the company turned to its online community to crowdsource some ideas.
Here, I would like to point out that there is another very powerful option, which not many companies take advantage of, and that would be to enable and inspire their own employees to carry the story across their networks.
While creativity is a self-fulfillment need, belonging is one of our deep psychological needs. No wonder that today we see the smart brands shifting investments from advertising to building communities and platforms, engaging customers, and thus creating value beyond the product. Just think about Nike+! The Nike brand is integrated into your experience of running with peers, isn’t it?
At the same time, the smart brands accept the fact that successful brand communities cannot be tightly controlled either, and that the key is to find the right balance between the structure and flexibility. The brands provide a stimulus on which members of the community respond. The smart brands believe that their presence and participation in social media is better than control.
I would emphasize that what becomes crucial for the brands is to identify how to relate to the lives and well-beings of their customers. The connection has to be meaningful in order to be successful. Harley-Davidson is a great example of a strong brand community that delivers customer loyalty and brand authenticity. In the following video Lara Lee of Jump Associates talks about three basic forms of community affiliation: pools, webs, and hubs, and how Harley successfully combines community strategies to their tremendous competitive advantage.
Listening and Trust Building
The third tactic the smart brands employ is listening since another one of our strong psychological needs is the need to understand and be understood.
When you think about relationships, regardless of their type (e.g. families, peer groups, organizations, communities, intimate relationships), they are always two ways. Brands must listened and respond to customers. They must acknowledge good and bad, embrace mistake and resolve it in public. Domino’s Pizza dealt brilliantly well with it. Watch the video below:
And that is the secret of how to build trust, in business or in any other of your relationships.
This is my guest blog post on Branding Business with RiechesBaird
Today, as our lifestyle is becoming increasingly digitalised and our content consumption behaviour continues to change, the very nature of advertising is transforming as well. Traditional one-to-many advertising model lost its effectiveness, and mobile and social now represent the next frontier in advertising.
According to Kevin Clancy, advertising industry expert, the average ROI of TV advertising campaigns is between 1 per cent and 4 per cent. On the contrary, the ROI from targeted mobile advertising campaigns is as high as 300-400 per cent.
Therefore, it is no wonder that the mobile is becoming an interactive part of regular TV experience.
A recent study shows that approximately 80% of those who own a smartphone are having a “second screen experience” – a phrase which means that you are on your mobile or tablet while watching TV.
Can you imagine a TV show or advertising with an extra dimension added to it by the second screen?
Last week five hundred people gathered in the iconic London’s department store for a mass meditation session led by a former monk. Sounds strange? Nothing to do with the protest against consumerism.
It is just a one-off event in Selfridges’ No Noise experiential marketing campaign that goes hand-in-hand with their #NoNoise @Selfridges social media campaign.
How are they doing it?
1. By being relevant and unexpected: Selfridges break up the normal shopping routine
No Noise campaign is inspired by an old idea that its founder Harry Gordon Selfridge introduced when he first opened the store a hundred years ago – a Silence Room. Now it has been re-created for modern day shoppers who would like to take a moment to pause and switch off (shoppers are asked to leave their shoes and mobile devices outside).
2. By being authentic to the brand values: Gordon Selfridge was one of the first retailers who attempted to make shopping a fun experience instead of an unpleasant necessity.
In this campaign Selfridges endeavour to create an atmosphere of peace and serenity which will make customers want to hang around and browse the store.
3. By giving something back to customers: “We hope that people will enjoy the restorative qualities of quietness by visiting our Silence Room and by participating in a specially curated programme of quiet experiences.” said Alannah Weston, Selfridges Creative Director
In addition, Selfridges has created a ‘Quiet Shop’ offering customers exclusive limited editions of de-branded products, with logos removed, as well as selected minimal music in vinyl format.
Imagination is the key to good experiential marketing! This is ahead of what has been done before in retail experience marketing and remains to be seen if these activities will capture the imagination of shoppers and encourage them to act on it.
My wife gave me this book after she had read it and further enhanced its design by her ‘highlighter’ artistry and insightful notes in the margins. I thought: “Why me? I am a pretty likeable guy with a decent number of followers on Twitter.” However, I approached it with an open mind. Glad I did. By the time I reached the second section on the laws of curiosity, listening, similarity, and mood memory, I realised that the book was a good read for a likeable extrovert as well.
The stories from the author’s personal networking life kept me engaged till the end of the book. I can say that I really enjoyed reading it.
There is one more thing I would like to mention. I find that the book couldn’t be more relevant than nowadays – when we desperately need more of employee networking in our workplace. I am really tempted to leave a copy on my colleague’s desk!
Let me start with a simple word association game. Ready? The word is Kodak. I bet you immediately thought of “film” or “photo”. Unfortunately for Kodak, the film-photography product category disappeared as the world turned digital.
The Kodak brand is a picture-perfect example of a brand which failed to broaden the brand association in the minds of its customers on time. Before the film business began to decline Kodak should have tried to own “digital imaging” and “digital camera” mental association in consumers’ mind.
So what went wrong with Kodak?
Having been one of the most recognised and trusted brands, regrettably, its leadership neglected signs of changing technology in the late 80′s and remained passive until the mid 90′s when they finally invested in digital imaging.
In the last decade Kodak did a big move into the digital business by developing and manufacturing digital printers and digital cameras. Although the products were good, Kodak did not manage to stop its financial slide down. No wonder! Quality cameras’ department in people’s minds had already been owned by Kodak’s major competitors.
Bad business decisions
As we all know, managerial actions can significantly impact brand health.
At the time when Sony launched a camera which used floppy discs instead of film, Kodak was reluctant to develop the technology because the Management believed the technology was not feasible and would not be affordable. Kodak, in fact, refused to acknowledge that film photography was dying. It is worth mentioning here that Kodak was actually the first company to produce a digital camera back in 1976.
Larry Matteson, a former Kodak executive, commented on the above by the following statement: “Wise business people concluded that it was best not to hurry to switch from making 70 cents on the dollar on film to maybe five cents at most in digital”.
In the late 80′s Kodak could have addressed this evolutionary change by slowly adopting the new business strategy, as George Mendes points out in his article “A case study of how Kodak is guilty on four counts of serious corporate failure”.
In 1993 Kodak’s Vice President Don Strickland left the company after he failed to get backing from the company to release a digital camera.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, former Kodak adviser said that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it.”
Although back in 1996, Kodak did introduce a line of pocket-sized digital cameras and created a campaign which proudly proclaimed that Kodak could help you “Take Pictures. Further”, sales for Kodak steadily declined during the campaign. Furthermore, in 2001 the advertising campaign, which was supposed to help associate Kodak with digital technology, was killed.
The same year the Kodak EasyShare Digital Camera was launched, featuring transferring images directly to personal computers and effortless sharing of pictures via WI-Fi directly from camera. Unfortunately, by then the category was already crowded with products from brands such as Canon, Sony and other Asian manufacturers. If Kodak had managed to convince consumers to use its online service to store and share their pictures they could have become a Kodakbook of social media at that time.
In order to make it relevant for today’s world, in 2010 Kodak redefined its famous “A Kodak Moment” of the past 50 years by launching “Share moments. Share Life ” campaign, hoping to retake its place in the households again. But by that time the camera phones became mainstream and iPhone was already the most popular camera for photos posted to the image-sharing sites, far more popular than any of the digital cameras produced by Kodak, Canon or Sony.
In time of publishing this blogpost Kodak secured $950 million lifeline and bankruptcy protection to reshape their business.
I wish them good luck! There is still a lot of equity in the Kodak brand.