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Will Live Integration Drive Brand Engagement in 2016?

Sharing a recent interview that I did with OgilvyOne NewYork on what to expect in brand strategy and engagement in 2016. You can visit our blog, Sell or Else, for more resources on customer engagement. 
OgilvyOne: From a brand strategy and engagement perspective, what was hot in 2015?
Brea: 2014 was about content marketing. People are not paying attention to ads. So instead of giving more of the same, we were, and are still trying, to provide something of higher perceived value in the form of content.
2015 has been about contextual marketing, which bases communications on the place and the situation the consumer is in. Today, 77% of content is consumed through interactive devices. So even though we are still pushing communications through mass media, people are engaging with the content on their mobile devices in a way that’s personal and contextually relevant.
OO: How is this forecasted to change in 2016?
Brea: We are moving from doing personalized and contextually relevant communications on a few occasions to doing them consistently across all touch points in 2016. This is going to be hard, given the fragmentation of the media landscape and the high bar of customer expectations. 2016 is going to be about live integration.
Live integration is about not just maintaining relevancy and personalization across all touch points, but doing it in a seamless way for our customers. 
OO: How would you advise brands to set themselves apart in the next year?
Brea: Brands need purpose and action to set themselves apart.
We are living in the age of disengagement. An era in which people don’t invest time, effort or emotions at work or at home, in politics or in religion. They have lost faith in the system. Perhaps inequality and dysfunctional politics are sucking up all the energy from society. People are taking actions on their own and holding business accountable to higher standards.
This trend impacts culture, business, and everyday life.
According to Gallup research, 7 out of 10 employees aren’t engaged in their work at the office. Defections from political parties have doubled in the past 50 years. Even more dramatically, exits from religious affiliations have doubled in the past 20 years.
Disengagement has engulfed society, which poses a huge challenge for marketers. How do we engage with people who don’t want to be engaged? Think about it.
Only brands that have a highly developed sense of purpose and that will improve our lives, or the world, will survive. Today, 63% of consumers only buy products and services that appeal to their beliefs, values or ideals, according to GFK.
But having a sense of purpose does not mean anything without meaningful action. There’s a lot of distrust of brands, and confusion as to what they really stand for. In order to gain trust, a company’s ideals and actions need to perfectly align. This is why brand experience – consistently delivering on the brand promise across all touch points – is also critical to set brands apart. Today, brands don’t get a second chance.
 OO: How can brands create a unified, seamless experience for consumers when new channels are constantly emerging?
Brea: The first step is creating a strong foundation for the brand via the Value Proposition or Brand Promise. The brand promise gives the brand a strong sense of purpose and creates relevancy with its audience.
The second step is ensuring that the Experience of the brand carries throughout the entire customer journey. The importance of this has been recently demonstrated by appointments of “Chief Experience Officers,” who will ensure consistency across all platforms. There is a challenge in integrating branding throughout these platforms, and it only gets more difficult as companies grow – but customers are looking for a consistent experience from brands.
And the third step is Enablement. How a brand enables value and experience is essential to reaching your audience at multiple touch points.
We live, breathe and eat through our mobile devices. We call a taxi, reserve tables, buy groceries, order clothes and watch movies – all on our phones. Our smartphones know who we are, where we are and what we did last week. People expect the content’s message to be personalized to the moment that they are experiencing. And more importantly, consumers need to be able to interact with the content through their smartphones.
OO:  What do you think will be the biggest concern for brands in the upcoming year?
Brea: Keeping things simple. Today, we have more choices than ever. However, people still only have 24 hours in a day. In times of abundance, simplicity is the scarce resource. People are looking for brands that make their lives simple, painless and without complexity. Simplicity wins in a complex world. People don’t have the time to figure out how things work – and don’t want to. As marketers, our challenge and opportunity is to have the discipline and focus to be simple and consistent in what we say and do.


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