Thursday, July 13, 2006
First of all, go to polkadotholes, a new ad site i've stumbled across. It's a very good site; the sort i'd like to build if I ever come to terms with the idea of paying to use the internet/stop being quite so much of a luddite.
Secondly, a thank you must go to Anonymous Graphic Designer. He presides over Noisy Decent Graphics (which is an excellent blog about graphic design that provides an alternate view in this planning dominated webspace).
He very kindly had a look at my (incredibly budget) PowerPoint presentation and was very kind about it. So thanks oh Anonymous one.
I was in Sainsbury's today looking for a sandwich. Bewildered by choice, I just grabbed the first nearby one (a 'Taste the Difference' BLT - very nice it was too).
Before this post turns into too much of a wanky 'how a conventional situation led me to think about advertising/marketing thought', let me just prefix it with this: There were over 40 varieties of sandwich.
Surely no individual can require this amount of choice? I mean, sure, I don't want a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich 5 days a week, or anything with marmite in it, but this was crazy.
I'll get to the point now: I think if marketeers and advertisers can help their clients eliminate this level of anxiety/fear/confusion/irrational fear of marmite in-store they'll all prosper. Never mind TV or the Internet - take the thought out of shopping and you'll make a lot of money, and be around for a long, long time.
I think a major reason why stores like John Lewis are doing so well is because they eliminate this level of anxiety/create such an atmosphere of trust that even people like myself (who dreads the day he has to help colour co-ordinate curtains and carpet) can shop with the knowledge that they'll do the thinking for you.
Interestingly, I also nipped into JL recently; on every floor I visited, the very first person I saw was a green striped customer service assistance. No wonder they are doing so well in the customer satisfaction stakes.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Well, here's my response to Gordon's question. Be warned, it's a little overly influenced by Malcolm Gladwell/muddled, but this question could take days to answer.
The short answer is yes, I believe that the most powerful brands are now made by consumers, in the hearts and minds of the masses.
The longer version is as follows:
Like blaiq thinks, I feel consumers have always had more of an active role in communications that some of the advertising community believes. No consumer is ever passive. I recall reading a Jeremy Bullmore speech transcription on Russell Davies' blog which emphasised this.
Malcolm Gladwell's 'The Tipping Point' makes an interesting case for people always being able to communicate in this way. Without wishing to go into too much detail, viral marketing has always been around - be it word of mouth of those whose information we trust, those who persuade us by their sales-pitch and those who we consider well connected (the 'Mavens', 'Salesmen' and 'Connectors' in Gladwell-speak). These people can help spread the word easily.
However, it is only now, with the advent of the blog and the ease with which many can communicate (such as people like myself who find HTML worrisome) that brands are being 'taken over' as it were with opinions of those who can reach more people with greater speed than ever before.
If then we accept all of this, consumers can now make recommendations (by means of Amazon, MySpace or another peer influenced network) and trends can occur ever quicker. This not only speeds the communication cycle, but it increases the necessity for the product/service marketing to be good ALL of the time. As Northern Planner/Andrew states, this can't be done. People will begin to mold brands in ways in which they cannot conceive.
Hence, consumers now make the most powerful and evocative brands.
This raises another interesting question when it is applied to conventional advertising - will agencies be now promoters of the brand's tone of voice, or less than that? I think there will always be a place for direct branded communications, be it viral, ATL, BTL or ambient.
I think the question coming out of all of this debate is blaiq's point of view once again - 'haven't they always been?' Probably. But now consumers have the means to actively shift and bring about brand change.
Brands, therefore, must engage the consumer in a dialogue; something which modern-day advertising is very keen to achieve. The likes of Innocent's blog provide a useful observation point - will making the brand 'open source' create a better brand? In the case of Innocent (whose philosophy appears to correspond with collaboration), it should.
Whether this will work for every brand is an interesting question; one in which we'll only find out some 20 years from now, I think.
So yes, the most powerful brands ARE now made by consumers. Whether brands/advertising agencies will seek to reclaim their mystique remains to be seen - indeed, whether they can once opened up is a fascinating debate.
Anyway, enough of my random wibblings. Read Russell Davies's debate about blogging (and the comments) for another perspective.