The challenges that brands have to deal with in the modern business landscape aren’t exactly “easily manageable”. They are far more complex than the challenges that the same brands would have dealt with, let’ say, a couple of decades ago.
Today, brands are tasked with having to provide experiences of all kinds on various platforms, such as social media, mobile, and even traditional channels. Not only do they have to leverage each platform, they have to manage the various options within each platform.
If that isn’t enough, they have to engage with the customer across social, cultural, and political spectrums.
So, how do modern brands deal with such demands? Well, the only option is to become flexible, almost ambiguous. As futurist Bruce Sterling put it once, they have to hope that they’re doing the right thing, even if everyone else around them disagrees.
Naturally, this is a very “hard to swallow” pill for businesses that prioritize measurable results. Ask any modern marketer today and he/she will not deny that offering value-driven experiences to customers isn’t an easy task. There is, whether you like it or not, an inherent contradiction between the marketing function to further business goals and meeting the requirements of customers. There is a colossal difference between what motivates sales and what motivates service. The same applies to their respective outcomes. So, naturally, herculean efforts are required to align the two.
However, as herculean as it might seem, it’s not an impossible task. There are solutions available to us and one of these solutions happens to be more creative. Creativity is the ideal weapon against uncertainty and with enough of it, brands can definitely engage with their audiences better.
At this year’s South by Southwest Conference (SXSW), we got introduced to the power of experimental advertising, which showed us that the rules of branding have changed. In fact, here are those rules; rules that will shape and define branding in the near future.
Those Who Do Not Interact Will Die
The SXSW conference saw a host of brands displaying interactive marketing ideas. For instance, Land O’ Lakes Butter showcased an experience that allowed participants to interact with the exhibits and even submit donations. The goal was to provide people with insights on responsible food production and farming.
HBO set up a replica of the fictional town called Sweetwater from their sci-fi hit Westworld, which allowed people to gain an experience of what the town would actually feel like.
As you can see, interaction is one way to go about spreading the word. You see, this kind of an interactive approach boosts curiosity among people, which is exactly what you want. If you can’t provide such a rich experience, your rivals will and that’s bad news for you. Very bad news.
The age of “broad-sweep” marketing trickery is over. Today, it’s all about creative curation. Consumers want to be introduced to opportunities that make sense to them. In other words, you need to be more specific, which means combining cultural/social trends with marketing strategies that the target audience can relate to.
One good example of this would the LVMH Cosmetics Brow Augmented Reality experience, also offered at SXSW. The experience allowed participants to see how they would look with different eyebrows. It was a unique and insightful experience that showed just how far AR has come and what it can provide in terms of marketing prowess.
Diversity is In!
Diversity is in. Of course, it has been “in” for some time, but, this time it’s really IN! Customers belonging to various groups want their fair share of representation. As John Maeda put it in his “Design in Tech” report at SXSW, inclusive creativity is simply the smart approach. If you aren’t being inclusive in your ideas, you are leaving out a large chunk of the market and that’s a bad, bad move.
So, if you’re in charge of creating and marketing content, you need to start focusing on developing an approach that includes everybody. More importantly, varied solutions are the result of varied ideas and that’s something which needs to start right from the whiteboard. So, diversity in your own teams would be a great way to begin.
Mix Up Reality!
When we say mix up reality, we aren’t kidding. That’s an actual thing. The actual term is, of course, different. It’s “Mixed Reality”. So, what is Mixed Reality?
Okay, so imagine you’re at a clothes store and you want to try on an outfit. What do you do? You simply walk into the tryout room. But, now, you don’t have to do that. You can simply scan a QR code on the label and step into a virtual replica of the actual tryout room and your friends can help you choose the perfect dress. You can even do it from your own home.
That’s what mixed reality is and as a brand, you need to start figuring out how you can offer it.
It’s All About Specialization
Back in the day, most firms would outsource their advertising needs to an agency of record. This isn’t a bad plan. However, every company will eventually have to deal with projects that require a special touch. Such projects will often have an impact on businesses priorities, prospective partners and what not.
In other words, your brand will need to consider special expertise.
Customize, Customize, Customize
Customization isn’t a new idea, but today we are moving towards a world where everybody wants something that represents them as an individual. Not everybody is okay with the appeal of mass-produced services and products.
So, customize for the consumer. A good example of this is Apple. Apple got this right all the way back in 2007 with the iTunes store. People, instead of buying entire CDs, could now just have the songs they wanted.
People just don’t want the same thing that their neighbors have. They want to stand out. They want options.
Now, just because you’re prepared to take on the challenge of uncertainty, it does not mean that you walk out unprepared. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Facing uncertainty is all about preparation. Your brand needs to have a purpose. That’s necessary if you want to try out new ideas without fearing the outcome. So, go out prepared and more importantly, focus on what’s most important – the customer experience.
Interested in getting your branding right? Well, why don’t you visit Crafted. We’ll be able to help you out.