Autors : Aurélia Carré and Guillaume de Vesvrotte, in charge of innovation and sustainability at Pixelis
Let’s build heroic brands!
In our schools, in our jobs, and throughout our lives we have all obediently learned what a brand is. It defends a company’s products, it creates desire in consumers, it speaks; it is at the core of the marketing mix. It sells. It has value.
But all of that has changed today! Certainties are a thing of the past.
A company can no longer settle for just selling something. Today, the entire company communicates, speaks and interacts. Communication is no longer reserved for a handful of senior managers.
The company itself is a social group; it spurs communities, it has a role to play and a role that is does play, for better or for worse. A brand is no longer a mask, but an emanation of the entire company. It has to manage its weaknesses and its mistakes, and accept transparency, sharing, and even collaboration with its consumers. A brand is no longer just a pretty package, but an environment conducive to conversation.
COMpanies of all sizes are in diruption.
The usual rules – the pyramidal hierarchy, the culture of secrecy, the all-powerful reign of Sales, the separation of private life from business life… all face new paradigms and a new relationship with the notion of exchange (in his book Homo Economicus, Daniel Cohen talks about the director of a blood transfusion center who wants to increase his stocks and decides to pay a fee to blood donners… only to reduce their number! Donners act out of moral principle, out of concern for others. The very nature of their participation changes when it no longer becomes a matter of helping others but of earning money).
This transformation is driven by today’s young graduates who give priority to having a meaningful job and place in society and among whom the responsible buying criterion grows yearly. It is also driven by the concrete realities of a global market whose threats and opportunities change at lightening speed.
Shareholders, consumers, public authorities, non-profits, employees… are all audiences that brands must address today. Brands need to preserve their power of appeal while using different drivers; they must create trust which is the only value common to all of these audiences. We can say goodbye to smokescreens and stardust, welcome to the world of transparency, engagement, connivance and humility.
It requires the involvement of the entire company, not just marketing.
Communication efforts are now reinforced by the positive impacts of transparency on a company’s internal workings. It is impossible to boast of a drink producer’s commitment to local communities if it is just as easy to find out about the group’s disastrous impact in the southern hemisphere; it is unimaginable to defend the nutritional properties of a breakfast spread if it is not produced under the highest standards; it is inconceivable to promote the brand image of a prestigious airline if a few clicks on social media call up thousands of negative passenger comments, and there is no hope of overlooking those negative comments when each one of them can find a powerful echo. Short-term marketing is dead and buried, we have entered the era of deep marketing, the kind that is built over the long-term.
That’s how branding agencies find themselves in the center of the ring, with the need to manage a whole range of topics other than just the brand, acting as a backdrop to the frenzy of campaigns and brand voice ops. The only constant value is the brand, treated from product design to its final activation.
There you find the two others articles of this mini-serie, co-written by Aurélia and Guillaume : What does it mean today to be a "killer branding agency"? et The "Branding for Good" of Pixelis
Aurelia Carré Guillaume de Vesvrotte