Thursday, 6 August 2009

Is this the future of brands?

Sally hrouda recently wrote a compelling piece on the future of brands. Many of the topics are familiar, but I appreciate the way she has condensed a lot of information and opinion into a very concise piece. Worth reading, check it out below:

Brands and companies are moving forward from traditional and tradigital marketing into a period of social engagement that maximises participation. They used to be able to treat their audience like herds, forcing their message upon them. However, people are now like swarms, connected to each other through digital touch points (mobile phones, cyberspace, computers) moving through currents, in no direction.

The millions of micro-interactions occurring in the realm of social media (Facebook, YouTube, Google, blogs, twitter) have led to the birth of brand ecosystems, living, breathing organisms that are about stimulating brand conversations. A strategic planner previously drew out the most powerful insight into human nature through obtaining a “helicopter quality”, having the ability to look at facts from an overview viewpoint. But in this changing environment it is imperative that they break down the barriers between brand, channel and consumer and listen within currents to react quickly to cultural trends (mobile, gaming, music, celebrities) and predict future movements, whereby pushing brands into a desired destination. There is an opportunity for brands to use tensions, or brand memes to challenge competitors or the status quo. Providing the ecosystems with new experiences that gives them something to talk about and influence society to build their own communities, or tribes around brands.

Due to the increased transparency of governments, countries and brands in the economic downturn and conflicts people have become disillusioned by institutions and instead are turning to each other for more credible advice. A brand’s success will derive from its ability to build trust, which will in turn build a strong brand affinity. They will need to prove themselves, not just advertise their benefits, but empower people to build stories and co-create content via channels, which then transform into brand platforms. Karim Temsamani explains that Google is at the very beginning of expanding its capabilities into image/video search and translational services. Ultimately brands will become intangible as constituents signal dynamically and brand experiences cross borders through cultural ecosystems. People in society will be able to be a part of global conversations and global ecosystems, becoming creators of global brands. A strategic planner will need to become a live thread between ecosystems and their agency to create innovative dynamic experiences, before they become outdated.

People are aligning themselves with brands to create their avatar. For a company or brand to influence people to gravitate towards them and buy their products they will need to be create movements. What if Fairfax created a movement for real journalism or Google for knowledge? And as a result new media standards are set and everyone becomes educated. Knowledge could provide people with skills, improving an economy and cultural tensions between societies. A strategic planner will have to plan to build movements not just nail an insight.

Rene Descartes once stated an individual exists because “I think, therefore I am”, however in the future we will evolve to “I link, therefore I am”. By 2020 people will link to brands, which will be a holistic experience created between products, conversations, movements and people through virtual and real interactions.

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