Alternative marketing thinking

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Archive for the category “Branding”

Digital story telling. View from a massage table.

Come on. Dim the lights. Bring out the aromatherapy candles. Play some soothing Thai spa music. Lower the volume just a bit. Oh yeah!

I can barely see the warm tubs of oils, hot stones, moist towels, the steam rising. Not to let my mind wander though. I am at work. Need to complete a strategy note by EOD.

You know why I am advertising, don’t you? It’s mid-afternoon, I am lying on a couch in a posh spa getting pampered. The Mad Men days may be over for our business. And anyway, I am a digital guy.

I am putting together a strategy presentation for a new client. And I am soaking it in, the brand experience. Exploring options, feeling the stuff, poking, prodding and getting my thoughts ready.

As the masseur’s trained fingers run up and down my back tickling out hidden knots and pockets of stress, I am thinking of the brand story. A spine, as it were, around which this luxury spa brand will unravel it’s POV to the world.

Ah! I love my job.

The client will see no numbers, click thru rates, fan counts and such in this presentation. This is higher order stuff. The foundation of a brand, built around its brand story, its truth.

What’s the big deal, you may ask. Any good advertising person is supposed to experience a brand, live the experience, use the product and come up with a POV. What’s new?

Well, digital needs brands to be richer. Offer multi-layered story lines that get played out depending on the channel that is being used. More importantly, since brands can own media platforms on the digital channels they operate in, they can tell longer, more detailed stories unlike with traditional media, where they are constrained by sizes or time limits.

So how is this story coming along? Let’s for argument sake call the spa at home brand “Soul” and imagine that I am putting together this multilayered brand story document for them.

Let me begin with the brand proposition. Soul. Luxury spa at home. Hmm nice. Looks like new territory for me. I begin to construct the brand’s story.

If you have, like me, been lucky enough to interact with a smart lady called Story Ninja you too would have learnt a few things about stories. The theory around stories. About concepts like the Monomyth and The Heroes’ Journey as propounded by Joseph Campbell. In conversations with Story Ninja I have come to learn that there are basic patterns that can be found in all universal stories. And as I construct a digital strategy for Soul, I dive in to build a compelling, multi-dimensional narrative that can make deep connections with people.

Additionally, I reach out to the teachings of former MIT Professor Henry Jenkins and his wonderful approach called Transmedia Storytelling. Or, how in today’s world with multiple digital and traditional media platforms stories can play out differently, across these platforms and yet create a powerful and unified whole as the participants in these stories (people) put them together. Advertising planner Faris Yakob has taken this thinking and furthered it for use in advertising, which he calls Transmedia Planning.

So as I think of the brand story for Soul I am constructing a simple, universal narrative from within the Heroes’ Journey and then use transmedia planning to play it out to the world.

I can’t disclose the brand story that is coming alive in my mind (NDA and stuff my friends) but I can share the platform thinking. From the company’s website, to the many digital and social media channels that are available to brands these days. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, 43 Things, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin. Throw in a porn site even, YouPorn, why not? For a brand that makes massage oil, let’s have some sensual “how to” videos up there too.

Told you, love my job…

So I can see the streams coming together. Soul: Luxury Spa at home, if that is the proposition. Unlike a traditional advertising, where I will be constrained by ad sizes or spot time limits, I can think free. Have long sensuous videos play out on video sites. Seed them across the web using Facebook and Twitter. Build a good profile of the company using a smart website to help Soul come across as a solid and reliable brand. Talk about individual products and their secrets using blog posts. Show beautiful images of Soul products and how they can be used, on Instagram and Pinterest. Build the reputation of people behind the company on Linkedin. Cross link stuff around so I can optimize the company’s site for search engines. Sweet! I can see this working on me. Not the massage, silly! The startegy.

Apart from the cost of building the Soul website and some monies incurred in production, I have not spent a dime in media costs. So while historically a brand would have a 90:10 split between media and production, all that Soul is incurring is in production costs, and of course the fat fees they pay me for helping them get their digital act together.

So before I doze off, and if you are still with me, here are the take outs. In the world of digital brand building, we need to imagine richer, multilayered brand stories. While executing these stories don’t worry about space and time constraints. Instead think platforms. So what you do on YouTube need not be what you will do on Pinterest. Each platform has a grammar of its own. Consider that when building brand stories. People who are on these platforms expect a certain behavior from others around. So instead of thinking traditionally and narrow casting your brand around one line, or around a slogan, think wider. Think richer.

Finally. There are a few kits of Soul that my client wants to give away. Would you like to receive one? Post a comment below and I will reach out to you. Brands in the digital world are all about giving.

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Dear Nike, I am not a consumer…

I have been a Nike fan forever.

Just looked in the shoe rack and there are 5 pairs of Nikes of varying vintage there. I wear Nikes for work and play, my kids wear Nikes to school. Recently a pair that I use for my morning walk lost a rubber padding on the sole. So being a fan, I thought why not write to the company whose products I so love.

The email id put me off a bit. “consumercare.india@nike.com. While I do understand where the word comes from, I never think of myself as a consumer of anything. In Nike’s case, I am a fan, a believer, an advocate and more. I have a poster pinned up in my head from an old Nike campaign that goads me every morning, to wake up and run. It reads, “Either you ran today, or you didn’t”.

If I have to get in touch with Nike, alas, I have to come under the nomenclature “consumer”. I want to be a fan, perhaps a team member, a co-runner…

But I am only a consumer in their books. They have a section on their website under a link called consumer care policies. Care is a better word though. Policies, terrible…

All of this put a bit of doubt in my mind about my relationship with Nike, and since the mail was formatted, I shot it out.

Promptly comes an auto response from the server.

“Dear sender”

My relationship with Nike is coming apart 😦

P.S. To be fair to Nike. I did get my shoes repaired for free at the local Nike store.

Coke’s Happiness Ambassadors.

Now that the hype behind the world’s best job has died down, let’s welcome Coke’s Happiness Ambassadors. And these ambassadors are on a mission to find happiness in the 206 different countries that sell Coca-Cola products across the world. See the introductory video here. Participants in teams of 3 had to nominate themselves and go through some grueling rounds of voting to get to become the team to visit all the countries that sell Coke the world. The year long mission starts in Jan 2010. Visit the Expedition 206 site here. More here

Generous Brands

Fallon London’s John King writes about why, in future, all brands will be generous, additive ones to people and culture. They will help build ideas in the world; they leave something behind. There are two ways to do it, says King: You can focus on the old model and fill your cardboard sign with a supply-side sob story ("Broke, out-of-work veteran"). Or you can take a more generous approach: singing a song, making people smile or opening a door. Brands must learn that empty pockets will never earn as much as the empty guitar case. Generosity, he says isn’t charity or cause marketing. While the recent economic woes have made mercy marketing the norm, with Hyundai’s brilliant assurance idea leading the way, generosity is broader in concept. John King’s five tips for building generous brands: Oh Behave! To be successful today requires pushing past positioning toward behavior. Generous brands behave; they do things for people. Uncover the value equation; using a simple research exercise we often use called "Ask/Thank." When interviewing consumers, we’ve found it helpful to start by having them ask the brand for three things and thank the brand for three things. We’ve found their answers provide an excellent glimpse into the existing value equation for the brands we work on. Get in their schedule. Marketers need to get away from thinking about themselves and their targets to find areas in people’s lives and sync giving into that. "Drive sales in Q3!" — a concept that has no relevance on the consumer calendar. Slippy Digital. The most impactful digital experiences today are designed to create portable, slippy content that allows people to take your brand places. Take a bigger role Every brand has a choice: Be stingy or be generous. A stingy brand chooses to focus entirely on product information, asking the consumer to walk up and knock on its door. A generous brand chooses to take a bigger role in the consumer’s life, opening the doors and windows and providing shared ownership. More in AdAge

Apple. The Consequences Of Making Good Products

One of those rare moments when you get to look at what happens at Apple. Jonathan Ive Apple’s head of design since 1996 spoke of what makes Apple the company it is. Ive was insistent that the key to Apple’s success was that it was not driven by money but by a complete focus on delivering just a few desirable and useful products.’ For a large multi-billion dollar company we don’t actually make many different products,’ he explained. ‘We’re so focused, we’re very clear about our goals.’ Ive had bad news for anyone looking to foster a design or innovation-driven culture within an enterprise that doesn’t at heart "get" it. Unless the disciplines are acknowledged and embraced as core values by every employee, they won’t gain traction. "We don’t have identity manuals reminding us of points of philosophy for why our company exists," From Businessweek

Art Of The Barrel

For the past year the team at Johnson Banks has been creating a new kind of buzz for Glenfiddich Single Malt. The brief as posted on their blog was to take a series of actual whisky barrels and find a way to express the vast lengths of time it takes to actually produce a bottle of the product. Using parts of the barrel as a canvas, the charred staves, the trunk, the metal hoops and more. Read more about the project here.

Ask The PM

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s has a YouTube Channel that features exclusive content online. The interesting bit about this experiment is that he gives ordinary people the ability to ask questions which he will respond to on the channel.

Masks From Artist Yoriko Yoshida.

Just in time for the Swine Flu season, a range of unique, one-of-a-kind Masks From Artist Yoriko Yoshida.

Banks Continue To Innovate ;-)

Cheeky headline that, but a look at some of the best examples of online advertising shows that banks and financial services continue to innovate in this space. The Banner Blog has a nice round up of innovative online banners. HSBC, Barclay’s, Virgin, RBS and ANZ are all part of the list.

Put Your Brand Here!

Wonderful little round up of the best branded apps that have come up for the iPhone.

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