The world as we know it is constantly changing. What used to work before isn’t working anymore.
There is a famous saying “Never had so many people understood so little about so much”; but the paradigm has shifted. The customer is different now. They are well connected, well educated, take their time to find what suits them best, and don’t want to be told what to do. All the customer needs from communication/advertising is letting them know of the availability of the option/product/offer; and they will be the ones to decide whether it is suitable for them or not. The internet and social networks replaced the words and visual of the Ad Men. Value replaced offers, and relationships replaced ads.
This leaves the brands and the agencies facing a dilemma. Talking too much about their benefits doesn’t work anymore, as these benefits will be tracked and highlighted at every turn the company does, whether corporate or tactical. Claiming a positioning isn’t what it used to be. The customer is exposed to the daily activities of the brand, and if they see any differences between the claims and actions, the actions will always be the ones that will stick. CSR campaigns are over; even CSR programs are threatened; it is expected out of you as a brand to carry this responsibility in your everyday actions by default, via the operation and the overall presence of your brand in the world of the consumer: Is this presence adding positively to the lives of the people? to the country? To the economy? How about to the environment and humanity?
Brands live in the minds of the customer; and the love formed resides in the heart. Customers want to fall in love with brands and make them part of their lives . They want them to be the way they expect them to be. They want themselves to be recognized and appreciated, not just rewarded, for loving the brand; and with the current setup of agencies vis-a-vis brands, this story is lost. We now have different entities holding the personality of the brand: Social Media handling the conversations; Media agencies keeping an eye on the customer; Creative Agencies holding the brand image and content; while PR Agencies keep their eye on the corporate side. The misalignment is evident, and the brand is lost in the gap of these agencies.
Where does this lead us? Price wars and unsustainable competitive advantages, aka commodities. Marketing was initially formed to give value to a product or service beyond its price and initial needs; yet, a 100 years after figuring this out, we find our brands in price wars with each other, where value returned to being the price only. We are fighting a rational war in an irrational world.
What is needed is a shift in perspective. Don’t look where you fell, but look where you tripped. What is needed is to rearchitect the model of brands and agencies, while keeping the customer at the center, to be able to rise again with brand/product/service values above the pricing and offers. What is needed is a new methodology to branding that will get all other agencies to keep the essence and personality of the brand as they move forward in providing their services.
Change is inevitable; it’s time we embrace it.
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by Rashad Moglbay on August 22, 2017