What Other Experts Say…
Why Brand Matters More Than Ever In the 21st Century
By: David Cooperstein of Forbes Magazine. “Thank You David!”
I am particularly enamored with brands myself these days. Well, truth be told I have always been an advertising and branding sycophant, rooted in my carefully curated and organized collection of car ads from old magazines, back when glamour and humor were part of the message and mechanism for automotive advertising. It led to my agency days – at the start of my career – when I was able to work on new business pitches for brands like Boars Head and Ben & Jerrys, and continued through my deep dive into the world of digital marketing both in social media and digital and mobile display ads. But the power of brands plummeted during my career, as we descended from the artistic expression of the brand to an era where the brand became just a message, one that didn’t translate well into content, digital experiences, and product enhancements. Things went south for brands during the first digital decade when consumers became empowered with all sorts of new media and devices. During this last decade many marketers threw the proverbial spaghetti against the wall, and nothing seemed to stick.
I think we are at the beginning of a new brand journey. This is one that reacquaints the brand with the business strategy, elevates the CMO and marketing team to the level of business strategist, and reconnects sight, sound and motion but in a digital context, and creates differentiation beyond the campaign. I feel good vibes from brand and creative folks that they “get” the need to reinforce their brand across all touchpoints, and that one way advertising is merely one part of the process. But as I talk to CMOs across industries, the “how” is still cloudy.
In our playbook for getting the job of Brand Building done right led by my colleague Tracy Stokes, we at Forrester have mapped out the stages of execution, from strategy and planning to execution and measurement, to help companies re-establish or reaffirm what their brand means and how to execute in today’s world of multi-tab browsers, multi-screen viewing, and multi-tasking distractions. The key elements of this new brand effort are to:
- Define your North Star. Take a look at the brand’s direction. For Coca Cola, their North Star is to “Share Happiness” For Mercedes, its “the best or nothing.” For Secret, it’s “empowering women to be fearless.” Is it honest and transparent? Is it inspirational? Is it strategic and concise? If the answer to any of these questions are no, you need to reinvest in what that brand North Star needs to be.
- Remap your brand. Rather than the traditional marketing model that starts with the product, and then hands over the responsibility for related actions and brand messages, marketers need to start with actions that exemplify the brand experience, then focus on the messages that draw the audience in. Nike and Apple do this by creating stores within a store, both in the physical world at partner retailers’ stores, but also online in custom branded virtual storefronts within partner dot-com properties.
- Keep on track with a brand compass. Brands that succeed in a world of empowered consumers need to focus on four elements of the new brand experience – brands need to be trusted, relevant, unmistakable and essential. If not, they will fade to the background while other brands assert their navigational strength to provide a clear set of experiences to the world.
Where are you in terms of your brand’s migration to the 21st Century? When I present this concept, marketers nod their head but don’t do much to change. Do you see the winds of change blowing your way for your brand? Or are you feeling further behind as other brands tell a more consistent, directed story?
Tell me what you think here, or on Twitter: @minicooper.
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