A few years ago, I was reading this article on what brands would look like if they were people. The most obvious depictions were of Steve jobs as the personification of Apple. Harley Davidson was a middle-aged biker with sleeve tattoos and Rolls Royce likened a suave British gentleman. Exercises like these are often eye-opening to how brands are performing in relation to their positioning and brand message. Which is why I was troubled to find that most brands in Bangladesh either reminded me someone unfavorable or no one at all.
Brands today, are lacking the strong personalities that make Nike the juggernaut it is. In the age of Collin Kaepernick and #metoo brands are still cowering to stand for what they believe in. While Axe sheds its womanizer image for a more feminist and inclusive positioning, Fair & Lovely is still promoting colonial prejudice. Good thing for them, they’re still discovering new ways to shove ads in our faces.
Every day I meet brand managers who are eager to bring their product to their audience. and more often than not, they don’t care how their brand reaches the customer. Newsflash. According to the Rapt media survey, over 57% Millenials have reported that they actively avoid Ads and find them too pushy. The same survey also found that 71% of all ads in the market turn off their audiences from purchasing the product. With the widespread use of Adblock and people’s short attention spans, brand managers need to find more inventive ways to speak to their customers than making logos bigger.
Attention! Nobody cares about your brand because your brand cares about nobody.
Does your brand constantly interrupt people and coerce them to buy? Does your brand shove products in people’s feed when they’d rather be looking at memes? If you answered yes, then its time to rething how you’re presenting your brand.
If pushy ads don’t work then what does?
The same rapt media survey that spelled doom and gloom on ads also finds that 62% of people (of all ages) claim that they are more likely to be responsive to ads personalized to their interest. In simpler terms, people want content that serves their purpose, not yours.
While personalized content can take many forms, the best ads are often subtle and provide value to their viewers.
Back in the golden days of the internet, Hardee’s made its mark with Paris Hilton and “that’s hot” campaign. Hardee’s reminded everyone that sex sells. That at the core of marketing, it’s about giving people what they want. Love it or hate it, Hardees added value, in an equivalent exchange for viewership and undivided attention to a delicious Hardee’s burger.
Selling Sex for attention might be a cop out but we all have something to learn as marketers and Brand builders. The best brands out there are don’t simply think about themselves, they consider their customer’s interests. Instead of shoving products into the viewer’s screen, brands should tell captivating stories. Gone are the days of talking about yourself. The best brands out there are constantly finding new ways to talk to their customers about their needs and go above and beyond to deliver value.
So ask yourself, is your brand so selfish everybody loves to hate it? Or have you created something everyone cherishes? The key to great branding is to give, give and give and hope that, through some form of karmic justice, you reap rewards of the generosity you put into creating value for your customers. Once you got that nailed down, speak to your audience, no whisper lightly into the wind, you’ll have an audience hanging to every word you say.