Thinking inside the box, and other ways to Break Brand
The original cowboys that rode our pastures during the boom are finally gone, so we can forget the old style of branding of the Celtic Rodeo -- and start Breaking Brand says Pat Kinsey
Well here we go. It's almost the start of another year. Almost that magical time when we promise ourselves the sun, moon and stars. "Next year's going to be different! This is the year that I get my life together.
This is the year I nuke every obstacle that stands in my way." Sound familiar? The fact is, right about this time, every single year, most of us are frantically reassessing our lives. It's not just the personal stuff -- we're trotting out the same old mantra for our business life as well. So, is next year going to be 'the year'? Will you actually grow a pair and do something different?
Well guess what? Next year will indeed be different, very, very different! In decades to come, we'll look back to 2014 as the rebirth of the country. Not that Ireland ever actually croaked it, but I'm sure, to a lot of us, it certainly felt that way.
We are starting to hear soothing words such as "green" and "shoots". It appears that even the media are starting to feel a pep in their column inches. Let's not forget, a mere two weeks ago, the IMF unscrewed the nation's stabilisers and bid us farewell. It looks, for sure, that 2014 will bring the seasonal spring that gives us the opportunity to sow our seeds wisely.
This time round, we have to start the way we wish to continue. It won't be easy, but with the original cowboys that rode our pastures during the height of the boom finally gone, we can forget about the old style of branding that was associated with the Celtic Rodeo. The landscape is now open for Breaking Brands -- breaking with convention.
The term Breaking Brands is the future. It's what companies will have to do with their most valuable asset (and their brand is their most valuable asset) to succeed moving forward. Six years of recession has ripped up the rule book of marketing. Brands have seen a huge change in the traditional communications channels, and to stay relevant to their customer base, they've had to embrace a whole new social aspect of brand communication.
Gone are the days of trawler marketing when you simply threw out the big net in the hope of catching a few big fish among the shoals of red herrings. Most brands simply don't have the big bucks any more to gamble on who they might connect with. Brands are now having to do some serious detective work -- getting out there, finding where their core audience is, socialising, hanging out, sharing experiences; then trying to communicate with them in their space, on their terms, exciting them in a way they never expected. The brands of tomorrow have to be more astute, agile and accountable. These newbies want to knowexactly who they have connected with. And you know something, they are 100 per cent right, because they can!
But don't worry, the channels may be shifting but the purest rules of brand-building still remain intact.
So when you put your brand under the microscope before we hit 2014, here's what you need to remember: difference, consistency, relevancy, trust, integrity and promise. These are the foundation stones of an enduring brand -- practise them every day!
The other key thing I always tell my clients is "a good brand is an honest brand". Yes, above all, if you want it to work, it has to be honest. Just tell the truth, it's easier to remember! So with these rules in your armoury, here's a few tips to make sure your brand breaks new ground in 2014.
1) Be yourself: Be who you're gifted to be -- there's always room for originality.
2) Listen to the customer: Relevance is defined by the people you sell to. Listening to your customer is the key ingredient in humanising your brand. Those who take note of this will most certainly do well.
The words of your customers are becoming even more precious as you try to adapt to the market and protect your brand from becoming a commodity.
3) Be creative: Success is built on your creative difference. Imagination still captivates the hearts and minds of the market. This is where you will personally engage with them.
4) Be resourceful: It's all about resourcefulness in an age of limited resources. Being optimistic means taking qualified risks and embracing uncertainty.
At the end of the day, your audience is looking for engagement. No one wants to feel like they are just being sold to in the midst of a fanfare of big beefy ad campaigns.
They're looking for a bit of empathy. They want what makes sense. They want to feel part of something. They want to feel that you've taken the trouble to understand what, personally, makes them tick.
Remember, you don't always have to do the expected marketing thing, and think outside the box. Go on, break with convention! Have a look inside the box first -- you might just surprise yourself!
Pat Kinsley is MD of Neworld Associates, one of Ireland's leading brand building and digital media agencies. www.neworld.com