Branded content

The Brand Story: More Valuable to Employees than Consumers

Have you ever been to a social gathering, standing in a circle of 5-6 people, when two people launch into two different stories at once?  They both pause and exchange social cues to insist the other continue.  Finally, one person takes the floor, and starts their story from the top.  

Yada, yada, yada

Yada, yada, yada

What if we lived in a world without social cues, and both of those people just continued talking over one another?  I actually have had this experience with intoxicated people, and I usually walk away because I can't hear either story.  That volume of interruption (times 10) is where we're at when it comes to telling Brand Stories to consumers.  

Traditional Advertising and Marketing relies on the notion that every person is comprised of both their current self and the self they wish to become.  These industries cater to the latter -- the aspirational self.  

From college seminar to company conference room, Marketing 101 teaches that the most effective way to tap into that aspirational self is through storytelling and therefore, that the telling of the Brand Story is the most effective way to reach consumers.  As Digital opened up a plethora of new channels through which brands could tell their stories they began to flood fresh infowaves.

ad block level ninja

The Branded Content universe has become saturated so quickly, we're now in the age of the disconnected consumer.  Not physically disconnected, but emotionally disconnected.  We're becoming hyper-focused on utility and convenience and we really don't care so much about a brand's story when it comes to connecting with them.  We'll toss a smiley emoticon or a "Like" at it, but it has no value in our daily living.  

Susie Sallypants doesn't have enough hours in a day to watch and read stories about her favorite soda, granola bar, clothing company, bra manufacturer, restaurant, gym, and car.  She also won't make the time to do so when the information available doesn't directly pertain to or enhance the moment in which she is.

Hence, our reality is one of conflicting needs -- brands who have been sold the idea they should use new channels to tell their Brand Story and consumers that care about brand messages only when they offer utility.

jesus you're doing it wrong

The true legacy of Steve Jobs as a business visionary is that he knew how to keep his employees engaged and aligned around the vision and mission of Apple.  It was the way he lived Apple's Brand Story through command, design, innovation, and persistence, that inspired his employees.  

His example plus the current market climate, teaches us that the ones in real need of falling in love with a Brand Story are the people that work for it.  

It's unanimous, alright.

Why does everyone hate their job? It's because they are the ones emotionally disconnected from the brand, and therefore, their purpose within a larger picture.  They aren't focusing on answers to questions such as:  What is my company accomplishing on planet earth?  Who started the company and why?  What value is my company providing to our customers (whether B2B or B2C) and how does this value impact and change lives?  

5 day weekend employee engagement

There is real emotion and meaning within those answers.  There's inspiration and love in that telling of the Brand Story.  

So, should companies continue to tell their Brand Story?  Yes, but they need to redirect its attention to a new audience and as a result, create new Brand Storytellers.  It must be told, refined, and used where it can make the most profound impact -- in the workplace.  It is only when an employee understands, connects with, and lives this story, that they will innovate to push it further.  That's the heart of sustainable growth and it's the first step in becoming a Digital Business that adapts to the law of Customer Experience.  The ripple effect resonates from that point.

Forget the investment in Influencer campaigns (starting at $8k/month).  What about repurposing that investment internally towards workshops, technology, or process improvement to make your employees experience purveyors who in turn will naturally influence others?  The sentiment of holiday parties, company retreats, and Summer Fridays for flip-flop lovers is good, but how can we inspire employees to love their company 365 days a year?  The Brand Story is how. 

Image credits: Reddit, Google, & other fine humans

People Don't Care about Branded Video Content

I read this article the other day which was written by 2 widely revered ad dudes.  The topic of the article was brands needing to invest larger portions of their media dollars in the creation of video content.  The authors' chief postulate was that PEOPLE like VIDEO and banner ads suck.  Wow!  Did you just feel the earth shift?  ;P

The dialogue in this article reminds me of a conversation I had in a client boardroom about 4 years ago.  My talented and tireless agency team had been creating deck after deck, packed with insight after insight, about how, yes, people watch video.  And, better yet, they watch it because they like  it.  A war fought in the noble effort to push that budget, inch by inch, towards the creation of more video.   

So, anyway, I'm reading this article and totally disagreeing.  

Our country's Advertising and Marketing practices have been founded on the hypnosis of sensationalism.  Early on, master creatives knew they needed to employ theatrics to dress up brands and their mundane product sets.  They needed to weave elaborate and heavy-handed tales in order to attract, magnetize, and often hypnotize the consumer.  The best brands produced products that lived up to promises they marketed and advertised.  The crap brands fell off the map.  Long live the democratic evening out process of free market. 

Take it back 15 years-- broadcast is king of the consumer eye and the :30 spot is j'everything.  The sensationalism and bold cinematography in a Mazda commercial is almost enough to suck out a tear drop or two.  Today, we see the same technique applied to the TV spot.  Ever get :15 deep in a commercial filled with profound quotes and epic nature shots yet you have NO IDEA what the commercial is advertising?  Is this an effective tactic?  

screen-shot-2010-07-14-at-4-40-57-pm.png

I don't think brands need to be creating more video as much as brands and their agencies need to accept that consumers aren't looking to brands for great video content and immersive viewing experiences.  Consumers look to brands for great products and solutions that offer them value and benefits in their daily lives.

Of course, Global Agencies don't want to sniff these roses.  To accept this state of affairs would mean they'd need to abandon the sexiness of being in Advertising.  All of the Art and Creative Directors who really just wanted to direct indie films will need to concede that this may not be the industry for them to actualize those fantasies.

As opposed to "hey brands, make more VIDEO content," I'd prefer a blanket directive like, "hey brands, spend your resources, your people, your dollars, on building products that add value to the lives of people who use them.  Invest in technology and start to understand integration and enhancement of the product set you've crafted.   Then, around those products, create ways to communicate their utility and benefits in a manner that is inviting to those you wish to attract."

This doesn't mean KIMBA isn't going to suggest we create video content as part of a brand's content strategy and creative mix.  It's an important piece of a larger picture.  It helps tell a visual story in concert with other content: ratings & reviews, apps, customer service forums, curated editorial, photos, articles, data visualization, etc.

BUT, the ingestion pace of today's consumer culture doesn't want to slow down for the hypnosis of more and more branded video content.  Sure, it can be fun.  And sure, any Fortune 100 brand can throw millions at top comedy writers and directors to produce an SNL caliber spot in which their brand is tastefully featured.  However, people would appreciate more direct communication.  Less fluff.  They want great products from their brands and for great video "content" they'll continue to turn to theaters, Netflix, cable (had to?) or bit torrent! 

Old World Order

Old World Order