Marketing used to be a one-way street - managed, controlled and structured. But that’s changing - today, most brands know that they need to invite consumer participation in order to drive engagement and remain relevant. But it’s the few brands that go beyond this that are the most successful; the ones that don’t just invite consumers in, but actually play a valued and impactful role in people’s lives – that are genuinely useful, meaningful, entertaining and immersive. In short, brands that actually do stuff for their audience!

These successful brands have an active purpose sitting right at the very core of their brand architecture, which they demonstrate through actions, not just words. And these actions live through every touch point expressing the brand character and personality.

Active, purpose-driven brands place as much emphasis on consumer behaviours and relevant content as on their communications. They identify the potential to go beyond the functional benefits of their product or service to create whole ecosystems of brand experience. The impetus to ‘do’ something of value drives innovation, priorities and insight into customer relationships and journeys.

Dove, Nike and Red Bull are all great, but overused, examples of brands that do this well. Single-mindedly focused on inventing the future of play, Lego is another example I’m getting increasingly excited about, using the ‘doing mindset’ to build an ecosystem of products, technology, platforms and content and extend its relevance to kids of all ages brilliantly. As a result they are experiencing rapid growth globally, with revenues exceeding of $2.03 billion – not bad for a toy company…

Brands and consumers are demanding more of each other. And brands that give more to their consumers get more back. Successful brands recognise that when a consumer buys their product, it’s not the end of the relationship – it’s just the beginning. It’s nothing short of a re-invention of the customer engagement process.

Social media offers a unique opportunity to communicate inspiration and education to consumers post purchase, offering an exclusive window into the world of the brand. It’s also a key channel to really propel the brand experience and retain customer loyalty in a way that other channels simply can’t.

Some food brands - Philadelphia and Lurpak in particular - are good at this. Both build a whole world of content through numerous online channels and social media to keep their consumers interested and coming back for more, successfully demonstrating useful and meaningful values.

Department stores are also a good example; Selfridges gives their nearly 276K twitter followers previews of what is coming to their stores, as well as an exclusive view of their celebrity launches. And Debenhams has a Beauty Club that gives customers exclusive discounts via social media, and involves their most loyal customers in sneak preview events and trialing of new products, extending and elaborating the brand experience from first point of purchase to beyond.

Reaching out at every touch point to access valuable emotional, and cultural, connections is crucial as the channels fragment through the customer journey and competition proliferates. Gaining consumer interaction and awareness can equal as much value as the actual product or service itself. So it’s important to get it right. Notably successful brands put their money where their mouth is, putting their consumers first – it’s vital that we think about what the benefits are for consumers.

 

By Nina Rahmatallah, Brand Director for Added Value. 


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