The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Marketing isn’t what it used to be. In 2003, advertising spending across the world increased on average by 3.6% – however the returns from that spend decreased by 3.4%. Not a surprising fact considering that the average consumer who’s reached the ripe old age of 65 in Britain would have been exposed to at least one million television commercials. And the number in the U.S. and Australia is even higher. When you stop and do the sums, this equates to watching television commercials for eight hours every day, seven days a week for a mind-boggling three years!
Given the low return on advertising investment, we are forced to conclude that advertising, as we know it, no longer works. Something new is required. I’m suggesting three new pathways.
The world of advertising needs to go back to basics. Today 99% of all communication is based on what we see and what we hear. One may ask about what we smell, taste and feel – particularly in light of the fact that 75% of our emotions are connected to what we smell rather than what we see and hear. Marketing seems to have generally neglected this very important sense at its own peril considering that branding is all about building emotional relationships between a product and the consumer.
I call this concept of appealing to all the senses Sensory Branding – a topic you’ll hear much more about as I share the findings from the world’s largest study ever conducted on brands and our five senses as part of project BRAND sense. The results are nothing short of startling, and for the first time they offer proof that in order to survive, branding has to expand its two-dimension approach and become a five-dimensional concept.
Think Tupperware, Atkins or Weight Watchers. They all have one thing in common. Brand communities support these three enormously successful brands. In a world where advertising is losing credibility, consumers are looking for other sources of trust – communities provide an answer. Friendship is one of the strongest bonds of trust. We trust our friends’ recommendations, advice and experience. Think about the last movie you saw, restaurant you ate at or book that you read. Chances are a friend recommended them, and you may very likely recommend them to another.
Brand communities have always existed, but as traditional marketing loses its strength, focusing on the brand community has proved to be an effective strategy. The future of those brands who take their market seriously and question the influence of traditional above-the-line advertising, will be considering establishing a brand community where word-of-mouth will do the talking. These personal testimonials will guarantee the results, and media money will be spent on people rather than on creating ads and commercials. It will require more than a website to achieve this, and a consistent well thought-through approach will be essential for success.
Close to 60% of the tween population in the UK play a computer game every day according to the BRANDchild study. The numbers are astounding. The Hollywood movie-making machine is only half as big as the computer gaming industry. But in a mere three years time, it’s predicted to be a third. The future power of the computer gaming industry is set to become an extremely important channel for advertisers.
No wonder companies like Toyota, LEGO and McDonald’s have begun integrating commercial messages into games. It also comes as no surprise that energy drinks like Red Bull have succeeded after placing their first commercial message – “Need More Energy” in Play Station 1. This is not an easy game. Where do you go? Who do you ask for advice? There’s not much of an infrastructure that can help you. No media agencies to book space. No advertising agencies to secure placement. And things are changing quickly. If you are smart – you can be first. The prices of securing space in the virtual world are quite low. The value is high. Brands in a virtual world are still as rare as seats on a space flight.