Digging Deeper For Successful Communications

August 11, 2015

Captivating communications seem to be getting increasingly rare…  Or maybe I am getting harder to impress.  Either way, we have to congratulate DC shoes for another remarkable piece of branded content last week:

Within two days, it became the most shared piece of brand communications globally for the week according to Unruly and has reminded us of the benchmark for what brands should aspire to if they want to impress consumers.

What impresses me most about DC shoes is this is far from a fluke, or one-off trick.  In the tradition of Red Bull, they have a history of creating remarkable content that keeps their brand salient and desirable for their younger customers.  Like all good sponsorship and “passion platforms”, they know what their target market is excited by and went about creating captivating content that celebrates their brand in this world.  While I have no doubt the DC film was a very expensive piece of production, this should not be considered a barrier for smaller aspirational brands.  The number of small successful businesses driven entirely by social media with content consumers want to follow and like are a testament to the new heuristics of brand building.

“But the above are all lifestyle brands!”  I hear you scream.  Sure, I agree.  It is easier to do 'cool' stuff in 'cool' categories.  Very few want to follow a toilet cleaner or cookie dough mix on Instagram…  So what is the winning formula for rest of us that have more traditional commercial pressures and constraints?  If we looked at the Effie Award winning campaigns of last year you would have to argue (i) a deep consumer understanding, and (ii) creative freedom to captivate their imaginations in a way that feels at home in their world, would be critical to success:

·   “Hello Beer”: by celebrating the “stupid but inventive” stuff young mates do together when drinking beer Carlton Dry was able to grow yoy sales by 22% in a declining Australian beer category.

·  Big Ideas. Lowest Prices”:  by positioning Officeworks as a partner in helping Australian’s achieve their professional ambitions they were able to accelerate year on year sales growth from a near flat baseline.

·  I Bought a Jeep”: walking away from the outdoor escapism conventions of the 4WD category Jeep was able to reframe the brand with a campaign focused on enhancing social approval – driving annual sales growth 156%.

What I admire of each of these award-winning entries is they attribute a lot of their success to a deep, immersive understanding of their target consumer’s mindset to transcend category norms and puncture popular culture with an expression that drives conversation and behaviour.  Congrats to Clems, AJF, and Cummins & Partners…

Having done my fair share of depth interviews and focus groups over the years I can fully understand their power.  To undertake dramatic unconventional campaigns and redirections you have to have the confidence to know it will get traction with the target market…  and the only way to get that confidence is by spending a the time getting to know them.  What they love, what they hate, what they think of your brand, and, most importantly, how they create meaning in this increasingly dynamic and transitory world.  If you are a brand looking to speak with a fresh voice, spend some time in a fresh environment.  Your consumer’s environment is a great place to start.