As humans, we constantly seek to define and evaluate ourselves, using social interactions, experiences and personal inventory to project our own identity. Community and participation are powerful influencers: we crave connections with people whose beliefs and values we share. And with digital as the mighty enabler, our connections are widening alongside our collective experiences.
People’s relationships with brands have changed. A recent survey [GlobalWebIndex] asked consumers how they would want a brand to act towards them: 50 percent of 25-34 year olds reported their favorite brand plays an integral part in their online life and experience, while 38 percent would buy a product or service simply to be part of the community around it.
Add to this the Convergence Economy [LS:N Global] where boundaries between brands, sectors, economy and emotion are dissolving. Look to retail spaces, products, hospitality and entertainment and there’s one distinctive theme: it’s difficult to tell one thing from the other.
Consequently, we need a fresh way to activate brands, to find new ways to engage with people and gain a greater share of life and “share of self.”
Today’s smart winners are imaginative, reaching outside of their historical boundaries to create new experiences and solutions. Nike, Samsung, Sony and others, are moving from purely product offers to services and lifestyle enhancement. For the time poor, Google’s Future Home has launched life-enhancing apps from voice-activated cooking to tablet-operated smart TV.
Such brands are going wide and creating partnerships to take an increased share of life. Clothing retailer Banana Republic has collaborated with Condé Nast Bon Appetit and online reservation service Open Table to create a Desk to Dinner collection – an innovative solution for the working woman while making the brand relevant to a much larger market. Through a collaborative movement, Shop Elsewhere in Hong Kong enabled independent fashion retailers to recommend each other’s products, allowing shoppers browsing in one designer’s store to activate the QR code on an item, leading to a web site with recommendations for other designers’ products pre-selected to match. Designers increased reach and attracted new clients while creating a unique in-store experience.
Critical to brand success in this digital age is the ability to create precise and relevant connections and experiences, with communications that engage people at the right time, in the right place and in the right way. Mastery of big data has replaced supposition to extract real time consumer insights, enhancing a sense of self. In Korea, retailer Emart created a mobile, Wi-Fi flying store. High footfall rivals were visited by the drones encouraging consumers to connect to the flying store via smartphones. Once connected, consumers were directed to the Emart online shopping portal to access discounts. The result: satisfied, value conscious shoppers and soaring sales for Emart.
The human brand
Technology and data are merely brand conduits and enablers. The reality is that brands are transitioning from acquaintance to become life influencers in real and valuable ways.
Smart brands are inviting people to share an experience, rather than product. Apple changed the retail landscape forever to become the supreme shopper experience where people could learn, seek help and socialize. In tandem with its aspirational product it became an iconic global brand with the best brand retention in the industry [source: WDS]. And this engagement goes beyond the physical, with 10 percent of Internet users having talked about Apple online (GlobalWebIndex). In Latin America, Huggies moved the hearts and minds of parents when, to celebrate Friendship Day, it delivered a special crib for two new born babies to a maternity ward. Bringing two boys together meant each had their first friend. And Huggies created a moment parents would never forget.
Apple and Google’s brand-lifestyle ecosystems are an elegant attempt by both brands to refocus themselves around an arresting experience; demonstrating reliability, innovation, design and a defined personality across every customer touch point.
Participatory brands are here and now
The past is another country for brands, as they journey towards a social role within a much broader community. People are now invited to view brands as they do their friends, colleagues and partners – offering products and services the opportunity to embrace change and help people to think smarter, lead healthier lives, and enjoy richer experiences. To succeed, a brand simply has to be clear about its own values, and the places, spaces and occasions where it has both role and purpose.
About Geometry Global
Geometry Global is the largest and most geographically complete activation agency of its kind, providing brand marketers with a unique solution for an unmet need: Precision Activation. This proprietary approach focuses on the exact blend of context and content that combine to influence consumer behavior, transforming proven communication techniques and big creative ideas into effective and profitable business growth drivers. With a team of 4000 experts in 56 markets, the global network develops highly compelling marketing programs—informed by data and insights—connecting people with brands at precisely the right times, in the right places, and right ways—making a measurable difference to clients’ businesses. Launched in June 2013, Geometry Global delivers award-winning creativity and integrated talent across a range of disciplines including Shopper, Relationship, Promotional and Experiential, Trade and Digital Marketing. Geometry Global is part of the WPP group. For more information, visit www.geometry.com
Global Chief Strategy Officer