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How to appeal to consumers’ hearts, by treating your brand as a channel

How to appeal to consumers’ hearts, by treating your brand as a channel

By Matty Tong, devilfish creative

The job of a CMO has never been harder: seeking to grow brands in a marketing environment that changes constantly; maintaining customer loyalty in an economically challenging climate that shows no sign of improving in the short term.  In order to beat off increasingly steep competition, brands must develop or retain true, lasting relationships with customers. With today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape this can be challenging to achieve. People have never had more choice than they do now. They can switch channels, change platforms, fast-forward, or skip through content as they choose. Brands have to earn their attention and fight to keep it. This necessitates a true understanding of what content people want to engage with.

The old advertising model of identifying core product messages and then drumming them into people’s heads once or twice a year simply doesn’t make sense anymore; nor does spending six months researching and developing a campaign. Attention spans are getting shorter; brands need to move quickly and have multiple ways of engaging with people.

Received wisdom still holds that advertising is at its most persuasive and works best at high attention levels. However, the evidence shows (see numerous research pieces by luminaries such as Robert Heath and John Kearon) that it is by influencing emotions that brands can really succeed in making an impression that lasts. It seems clear that the strongest connection you can form with someone is with their heart, not their head. All the most successful brands today appeal to their audience on a deeper, more emotional level than the competition (see Nike, McDonalds, John Lewis).

At devilfish, (though we now work with a wide range of clients) we grew up working with broadcast brands. In our experience, most brands could learn a lot from successful networks. They know better than most how to engage, entertain, surprise and retain customers. What can brands learn from them? – To create stuff that people love and which delivers intrinsic value. From Downton Abbey to TOWIE, ITV knows a thing or two about engaging people across demographic groups.

Spread great content across channels, understanding that viewers often want to engage with titles beyond the TV viewing experience: E4 has done a great job taking its Misfits title into social media recently. On top of that broadcasters tend to be very good at selling themselves. Think of the beautiful Channel 4 idents where landscapes and cityscapes are manipulated to create the 4 logo. Or the A&E re-launch in the US where characters from their shows talk directly to the viewer. These idents successfully capture in a few seconds the unique brand offering and therefore are an excellent shorthand for the content they pride themselves on providing.

Ultimately your brand is your most valuable channel. As such, it needs to be constantly ‘switched on’, requiring content 24/7, content that people will love. Think in terms of ‘audiences’ rather than ‘consumers’. Create ideas that grab people on an intuitive level; that encourage them to tune in. These could be advertising, social media, content, events … whatever is right for people and the places where they like to hang out.

Like the best broadcasters, talk to people as friends and make sure they always get something back for the time they spend with you. Because a strong relationship, with deep reserves of loyalty and trust, can only ever be built over time.

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