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Your brand is vulnerable
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There’s no doubt that technology has changed the waywe do business, and while it has enabled consumers to seek out more brands thanever before, the other side of this double-edged sword is crippling thecorporate-controlled message. We are exposed to thousands of advertisingcampaigns every day and this inundation of marketing messages has led to ourdesensitisation to them: ad recall has plummeted by 80 per cent over the lastdecade.
 
In this age of radical transparency, a single negativeuser comment has the potential to damage the perception potential customershave of your brand. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said, ‘A brand is what they sayabout you when you leave the room’.
 
In a world where customers can control your message,how is it possible to continue to drive demand and desire for your brand? Ibelieve the answer lies in two things: having authentic stories and inspiringexperiences.
 
What do I mean?
Every brand has a story. In the past, this story wastold through advertising, and to a certain extent, it still is. But customersalso tell the story through word-of-mouth – and with new technology and socialnetworking platforms, word can spread farther and faster than ever before. Withthe right strategy, and an authentic brand experience, this can become one ofyour most powerful marketing tools. The challenge is to create a brand storythat resonates with consumers on an emotional level and delivers distinctiveinteractions – experiences – that bring your brand to life. The most successful‘experience’ brands use unique, brand-specific strategies to engage theircustomers in moments of pure delight. They create a powerful, emotiveconnection between brand and consumer, and establish the bonds of unbreakableloyalty.
 
How to craft a meaningful brand story
The most compelling brand stories are the ones wherethe brand becomes the ‘hero’, taking on an authentic personality and humandimensions. These brands help resolve a fundamental conflict that is relevantto consumers today – they help customers pursue a goal or mission that is aboutmore than mere money.
 
For Dove, the conflict is fighting back against thesuperficial world of beauty products to discover your inner beauty. Nikeconflict is self-doubt, with the goal of helping consumers defeat theirself-imposed limitations and become and authentic athlete. Apple’s conflict isovercoming convention – the entire Apple experience is dedicated to unleashingcreativity.
 
Won’t the story get stale?
Not the good ones. The best brand stories are based ona core truth that has the ability to stand the test of time. Kraft’s ‘HappyLittle Vegemites’ and the ‘I love Aeroplane Jelly’ stories have retained thesame core essence since they were first introduced in the 1920s, and VB’s‘Hard-earned thirst’ is another of Australia’s longest-running brand stories.The story originated in the mid-1960s with an innovative television advertisingcampaign featuring a recording reminiscent of the theme from The MagnificentSeven, images of working-class Australians at work andplay, and a voice-over by actor John Meillon – ‘For a hard-earned thirst, youneed a big, cold beer, and the best cold beer is Vic, Victoria Bitter’.
 
How do stories and experiences work together?
A great example of this is BMW – a brand built on thestory of performance obsession. The story is not just told through advertising,it’s conveyed through event sponsorships, racing, employee recruitment andtraining, dealership design and – of course – the cars themselves. In each ofthese interactions, the BMW experience is about more than just the features ofa vehicle – it’s about the experience that has been built around BMW being the‘ultimate driving machine’. The challenge BMW faces is that many aspects of itsexperience fall outside a marketer’s domain, resulting in a growing need toactively partner with functions such as human resources, propositiondevelopment and operations. Perceptions are shaped by both the sum of themessages and the sum of the experiences – that’s why it’s so vital to get bothright at every touch point.
 
If you’re wondering whether it’s time to revisit orreinvent your brand story and experience, ask yourself this question: what arepeople saying about you when you leave the room?