Experiencing the ‘Soul’ of the Brand
Friday, July 14, 2017
by: ILEA HQ
Ever since the advent of the term “the boob tube” for television, we have been bemoaning the takeover of technology of our waking hours. And recently, the speed at which that takeover has occurred has only grown exponentially. Nowhere greater is that shown than in marketing. According to ChiefMartec.com, there are now over 5,000 digital marketing “solutions” or products available to businesses. That is up from 150 in 2011. It appears the age of digital marketing has finally dealt a deathblow to traditional marketing channels such as live events. Except, it hasn’t.
With every advance in digital marketing, there has been one constant: the audience remains human. And there has been no better way to reach humans than one on one interaction. Marketers today increasingly rely on brand experience in order to create meaningful relationships with their audience. As digital marketing begins to gain market share of an organization’s marketing budget, events have maintained or even grown in their marketing influence. How can that be?
For years, the perception by some was that the upswing in social marketing would coincide with a downfall in the role of live events. It’s cheaper and it reaches more eyes. However, this simply hasn’t happened. Think back to when digital watches came out. The value of mechanical watches actually went up. The same is happening with experiential marketing. Social marketing has been acting in an augmenting role, helping make live events more powerful for marketers and a more valuable experience for attendees. Why? Because all digital marketing needs one very authentic thing: content. One of the unforeseen values to emerge from this is the hyper close relationship events now have to brand loyalty.
“The way we look at live events has a lot to do with speaking to an individual and saying you can see yourself with our product,” says Kevin White CSEP, chief strategist and founder with XPL. “We have not seen a giant shift in the thinking around live events as part of the overall marketing strategy, instead what we are experiencing is a shift in the mindset of the role that the live event can play for developing brand advocates.”
It’s all centered on the idea of getting the consumer to envision themselves with your product. The concept isn’t novel by any means; in fact, consumer brands have long leveraged mediums like TV ads in this manner. Coca-Cola, for example, would produce spots that showed various types of individuals drinking their product with the hope that the viewer could envision themselves being one of those people.
Today, brands don’t try to connect to the value or quality of the brand as much. Now, it’s about connecting to the meaning behind the brand and why a community is drawn to a brand. “The size and scope of getting people together is something that brands are indeed leveraging,” says White. “It is the community that has become the power of the brand, and the way in which you build brand advocacy.” Digital marketing, such as social channels, allows brands to take that concept and amplify it.
White points to the example of MINI and their success in building brand loyalty around the idea of MINI Ride & Drive Events. The idea is to create a mindset for the owner that the coolest thing about MINI is being in the car, and second coolest thing is being with others who are in their cars. It’s a strong example of the role of ‘positive echoing’, where you bring together the biggest fans of your brand in order to build that excitement in hopes of having it ‘echo’ to the masses.
“And now, in this era of ubiquitous marketing, the idea is to take the output of those live events and create content via social channels to show others what the experience is all about; to show people what is exciting about that experience,” adds White. “That is an example of how positivity echoes.”
It’s all a part of attaching the experience to the product, and using events as a catalyst to extend that experience. “Events have shifted to this idea of what you experience beyond the product is just as important as the product itself,” adds White. “It is this notion of helping people experience the soul of a brand."
This article was written by ILEA HQ, with contributions from Kevin White CSEP, chief strategist and founder with XPL.