Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From David to Goliath. How Challenger Brands Become World Changers.

Big brands get it. At least many of them do. Yet challenger brands and start-ups especially are vulnerable in large part to a lack of vision and purpose. Vision is imperative. Every company has one, or desperately needs to stop what they are doing to find one—a clear picture of their brand’s strategy and direction. Without it, you’re going nowhere, and the marketing people responsible for driving your brand are spinning their wheels without a roadmap or GPS.

We also know that a vision should be big. It should be bold. It should be easy to define. But more importantly it must be relatable. Everyone seeks connection and a cause to champion, but if your brand isn’t a vehicle for either, then you’re not relevant and you’re not the focus of conversation. You remain just a challenger. The goal is to unseat the market leader and win people’s hearts right? Sure, mission statements help to articulate what a brand wants to do, and how it will realize its vision, but carrying that out is another story. Speaking of stories, what is your story and how is that story perceived and received by the world at large or community you wish to influence? What are your values, beliefs and definitions of what guide your brand’s culture and decision-making processes?

Emotional Relevance:

Is your story more like a fairy-tale or a well-crafted documentary? Does it read like a motivational manifesto and resonate with the passions and pursuits of its audience? An engaging story isn’t static or self-serving, but fuels its followers while directionally connecting everyone to the overall goals and objectives of the company. It doesn’t exclude, but invites everyone to the party. It speaks the love language of those who are listening, and inspires cult like loyalty. Apple was once the underdog. Now it’s a giant. Macy’s has magic. What’s your mojo?  

Does your story and the strategy for telling that story connect with your audience and validate their emotional investment and loyalty? Are you adaptive, creative and courageous enough to lead and innovate when others are complacently following? These are the questions that need to be answered before a compelling story can become more than just a story, before it can assist a brand’s mission or deliver quantifiable results, but create movements that alter the world in a meaningful way and leave behind legacies for future generations to follow. This is how Davids can become Goliaths.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

If I'm Not 'Feelin It', I'm Not Buying It.

Imagine a world of emotional detachment and disconnect. I’m not just referring to an inability to connect with others emotionally, but an inability to connect with your own heart and the subconscious motivations which drive behavior. Seems inhumane doesn’t it, and if you ever find yourself in that world, find a good therapist, because psychologists warn of all sorts of mental health issues and implications.

Many of us, if we’re honest, find it very difficult to turn emotions on and off. In fact, we’ve all experienced intense emotions in some very passive states: our hearts race when we identify with a fictional character on a movie screen; certain environments, smells, or interactions with people unconsciously trigger past experiences and send signals to the body and brain to respond accordingly. Remember how irrationally motivated and out of balance you felt when you first fell in love? Emotions are attached to associations we make about the way we view ourselves and the world in order to guide choices and largely prepare us for action, either positive or negative. It’s the way we’re wired. Unless you're a robot.

Love and loyalty is driven by this process, and smart marketers understand this. Smart marketers know how to put this knowledge to work. Unfortunately, the people who make decisions about a brand or business, aren’t necessarily from the same school of thought or on the same page. We’ve seen the case studies and documented the failures that result when a brand fails to take into account the emotional programming behind what people buy and why. 

Countless studies have been conducted about the power of emotion and unconscious associations underlying consumer behavior are what send brands either into the Stratosphere or the trash can. I’ve always said this, and won’t back down from this approach, because it is extremely rewarding and not as mysterious or laborious as some would lead you to believe. There is a general consistency to this paradigm that transcends the sales or technology treadmill because it is what drives the treadmill, just as simple gender and demographic differences affect the way brands have always been marketed.

More and more are finally getting it I think, and are seeking to discover what motivates and maintains loyalty; even leveraging those insights, but when everyone within the leadership structure of a business isn’t on board, an identity crises ensues. Brands rebrand and change ad agencies like underwear and undermine the very essence of what differentiates us from the devices we attempt to live our lives through every day.