Skip to main content

Branding for Good

-->

This year has been a tough one. The economy is still in the dumps with little sign of recovering. Our political class cannot agree on anything. And people have taken to the streets to voice their frustrations. On a more positive note, Americans have taken control of their lives back. They started living within their means: more saving, less spending. They are pursuing non-traditional paths of development by creating social enterprises in their communities.

These social, economic and political forces shape the way we think, behave and consume brands. The more a brand is credibly in-tune with its social environment, the more love the brand gets from its consumers.

In 2011, brands such as Amex, Hyundai and Panera stayed relevant with customers by pursuing programs that are in-tune with the social environment. Amex launched Small Business Saturday to help small businesses. Hyundai extended its already strong warranty in cases of unemployment. Panera ran a pay-what-you-want program. On the other hand, brands such as Bank of America, Verizon and Netflix suffered after pursuing policies disconnected with the social environment. BOA started charging fees on debit cards. Netflix increased prices for its service. And Verizon demanded huge cuts to employee benefits.

Next year’s environment comes with plenty of opportunities and challenges for marketers.  Here some of the key trends suggesting what we might expect and how they will impact marketing.

In the political front, the election is likely to dominate most of the conversation in the media. According to the Pew Center, the 2012 presidential election coverage accounted for 27% of all the news in the Dec 12-18 week. This number is only likely to increase in the following months.  The nature of an election year means more uncertainty for consumers and a need for a brand to empower its base. In times of uncertainty, consumers want to control what they can still can. 

 
-->
While the economy has showed timid signs of recovery, we are still far from over the downturn.  Consumers are going to continue being hyper conscious of value. This does not necessary mean low price. They are just going to buy smarter. Consumers are going to purchase fewer things that deliver more satisfaction to their lives.

Finally, on the social front, inequality on all dimensions (education, healthcare, job opportunities, etc.) is going to continue to create friction in our society. Brands have an opportunity to embrace a cultural ideology based on the ideals of equality, fairness, and kindness that are engrained in the American dream. The idea that if you work hard, you deserve a fair shot at success in America. 

In summary, next year’s social environment is going to be as polarizing, challenging and full of opportunities as this year’s.  Brands that listen and stay in tune with this environment have the opportunity not only to grow but also to become better citizens.

Comments

  1. We're hardly Arab spring material. We seem to be entering the American Autumn: Copland-esqe, hearth, home, hot cocoa. Beautiful language standing for despair, faith. 2012 divided by 99%. Who's to say? Promise over reason. Long division x multiple fractions.I hope this makes corporations better citizens. i liked your ending note of optimism.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Inspiring examples by Amex, Hyundai and Panera. Thanks for the great post!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Curse of Advertising Resources

With more platforms, more products and more content who are trying to reach a disengaged audience, it is becoming harder and harder for brands to stand out. Conventional practices are no longer working. People don't watch TV as much as they used to, so they don't see commercials.  They don't click on banner ads. They don't pay attention to billboards ads. And they don't trust brands' messages. Part of the problem is that we are too dependent on traditional ad resources, which limits the realm of our creativity. To thrive in this new environment, we, ironically, need the freedom of a tight brief: what can you do with no budget for mass media?  Or limited marketing communications dollars?  To make a comparison, traditional advertising is a lot like countries and economies that rely on oil. This reliance handicaps innovation. Countries with a vast amount of natural resources tend to have (1) less economic growth and (2) worse development rates than other countrie…

The Irrational Power of Nudge Brands

Nudge brands are brands built on interactions, not attitudes. They are mostly defined by experiences, not TV campaigns. They are designed around people's inconsistencies and errors, not for machines. They are simple, not complex. They like to break things into small chunks that are less daunting than big tasks. They focus on changing behavior, not generating awareness and interest. The Paris metro system card is a nudge brand. It is designed against human errors. You can use the card in any direction. IKEA is a nudge brand. It uses the power of personal investment. The more involved people are in creating something, the better they feel about the end product. Ryanair is a nudge brand. It chunks the whole purchase process. They lock you in with a low 'seat price' first to get a mental commitment. Then, they start to add the extra charges in bite-sized 'chunks.' Hare Krishna is a nudge brand. It is built on the reciprocity rule by giving away daisies. People should …

The Irrational Challenger

Today, irrational is the new normal. People want products and services that break conventions and defy social norms. They have expectations that don't fit the traditional business model and feel irrational. However, they are very real and have created an irrational economy with irrational challengers. To thrive in this new playing field, business needs to be human, irrational. Think about it. Having a concierge to run our weekly errands for $99 month. Alfred. Ordering a healthy and delicious meal ready-to-eat under 7 minutes delivered at your door the next day. Hungryroot. Booking unlimited blowout appointments at salons in Manhattan for just $99 a month. Vive. (A typical blowout cost $40 to $90 inNew York City.) Renting a room on a month-to-month basis without going through the traditional methods of verifying applicants (e.g., two years of tax returns as proof of income).