It is not your brand, it is you. Looking for authentic relevance.
19 October 2017
As always, it is best to start with some context:
According to Forrester, by 2021 more than 119 billion euros will have been invested into digital publicity, among which will principally include Display and video content. But not only this, of course. The digital investment will be duplicated every year until this prevision is reached.
In 2016 digital investment surpassed television, for the first time in publicity history. The only investment in mobiles, for its part, will be made in 2019, and will concentrate 70% of its total investment on digital. Meanwhile, in countries like the United States, programmatical publicity already makes up 80% of Display investment.
Users currently invest in the daily global average of 6 hours and 30 minutes in the digital medium. Mobile usage time has also duplicated, increasing from 1 hour and 17 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. If we put the spotlight exclusively on social media networks, the average daily use is 1 hour and 59 minutes. That is one every three minute connected to platforms of direct contact with other brands.
Dear reader: dedicate a few seconds now to try and draw a line in common with the significance of all the data that we are about to introduce. If the response is the over-impact of audiences and over-diffusion, you have fully achieved this.
In fact, and to open old wounds even further, according to GWI’s latest report on Brand Discovery (Q1, 2017), search, television, and word of mouth continue to be the declared the most effective ways to discover a new brand. Discovery via video ads or through social media networks positioned 13th (17%) and 15th (15%) respectively, in the ranking of methods most effective in generating brand awareness in any canal.
Can someone put a stop to this madness? It is clear that brands already can not keep doing the same if they want to start seeing results.
The strategy now can not be micro-content
Generated content by brands and their digital publicity has suffered an identity crisis for too long. The say the contrary would be to deny an overwhelming reality.
It is certain that during the web era, in which an organization was relevant simply for having a site, regardless of its content; or in the social era, where a brand that could capitalise on prescriptors just for having a basic strategy in social networks also passed to better life for some time. And yet, many of them continue to have a relative success – seldom contrasted – generating micro-content and allocating few resources to brand creating near their communities. Communities that were never real, by the way.
But it is of little importance what worked before.
We are inexorably approaching the age of relevance or transcendence. An era in which brands and their organizations must be relevant beyond their business. An era in which we must begin to stop separating what is digital from what is not, or was not, and in which there is a single multichannel brand perception. Most importantly, we move from “what you offer me” to “what you are doing to make my life better”.
But it is also, in a way, a return to the era of creativity. Where it is more important – and profitable – than ever to bet on a clear, powerful and differentiating message that does not depend on multiplying its impacts to be remembered. Where we no longer seek to interrupt infinitely with an empty message until the final saturation, but generate entertainment, relevance, conversation and real help. It is the era of brands beginning to understand that this is about offering value to their audiences (The Love Index, 2016).
In reality, the data often shows that the more creative the message is perceived, the easier it is to remember the brand. It is even less understandable, then, that many still bet on over-investing in many mediocre messages over time rather than really betting on something that could be relevant to their audiences or to the people around them.
Ultimately is it the creativity, stupid.
In a context of constant over-impact and interruption where, paradoxically, the real digital attention is evermore extensive and difficult to obtain, brands must make an even greater effort to try to be relevant and effective, not only on the basis of what they are, but also on the basis of what really matters to their audiences, thus connecting their messages, their creativity and their capacity for organisational transformation with what really moves people.
The reality is that many brands sin by thinking themselves as being more important and relevant than they really are – or perhaps they are doing nothing to change it. But the bottom line of all this is, that if you’re not starting from a strategy of introspection and knowing your audience, it is possible you will end up sinning by putting your brand first, rather than people.
For this reason, it is imperative to understand that we are also in the era of negotiation. Where brands are no longer going to be the protagonists.
Before communicating anything, try to think about what your brand or organisation is really providing the people around you.
Before you launch any message, try to discover out what trends are moving the world and how your brand is participating in them.
Before creating your content strategy, and making it as widely available as possible, think about which common territories push you to be more relevant to your audience.
Meanwhile, others say that we have already reached the age of absolute attendance. A way of saying that we are, possibly, in one of the most demanding stages in the history of communication when trying to generate value for those who come into contact with brands.
As Forbes rightly points out, there are three trends that clearly mark the evolution of the accidental narcissist consumer:
Immediate search capability. The search tools are better than ever, connecting all relevant figures in the communication chain in real time. And if you don’t tell me, I’ll find someone else who will.
An exaggeratedly high standard. If your content or service is not of sufficient quality to integrate into a mobile, interactive, high-quality, entertaining, fun and 100% usable experience, I will abandon you immediately.
Impatience is increasing. If you’re not there when, where and how I want you to be, I’m sure someone else will do it today and better.
In the end, it is all a question of communicating when it makes sense
The moral of all this is that bad content is really expensive. Investing in generating it, producing it and especially disseminating it, will bring little value to your brand if there is no solid strategy behind it that goes beyond talking about yourself or a truly effective content that is capable of generating relevance, impact and journey at the same time.
Fragmenting a low-value communication into many micro-impacts is no longer the best strategy, and is perhaps the quickest path to absolute irrelevance. For example, if you’re dedicating a quarter of your budget to creating content, and three quarters to disseminating it, you’re probably also falling into the micro-content rule – which is the one that is usually less effective proportionally speaking, by not being able to be sufficiently relevant, in essence and for its limited projection, to any of the impacts it generates.
For this reason, if you don’t have anything new to offer, it will not always be justifiable for your brand to invest in resources trying to energise all conversations or generating a boring and repetitive content plan always on through all the existing channels. Nor, possibly, try to interrupt again and again with the same brand message flooding any digital media.
It is also a question of searching for strategies that generate publicity and noise from other more specific activations and truly betting on macro-content (higher quality, higher investment, multiplied relevance) to the detriment of micro-content (lower quality, lower investment, diluted relevance), getting others to talk about you by the quality of your interventions and not by the quantity of them.
An alternative reading is that, in the end, as a brand, you will not always have something to contribute. And that’s when we recommend you save your efforts and your breath for when it’s really worth it.
As Howard Luck Gossage put it, “nobody cares about advertising”.
People care about what can change their lives.
What happens is, from time to time that can also be a brand.
And that’s when you have to tell the world.