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Is the future of big brand ideas dark?

Is the future of big brand ideas dark?

For a rather long time, big brands built themselves on big ideas. Emerging from larger life insights of consumers. The functionality of the product played a supporting cast as the larger emotive meaning took center stage. Nike spoke to the self-doubting underdog in you, before telling you about its revolutionary ‘air’ cushioned shoes. Apple promised escape from constricting conformity before seducing you with its minimalist design and intuitive functionality.

The mechanism for creating the above was largely advertising, but there was another important dynamic at play.

Because of the nature of mass media, brands were largely reaching out to people who were not thinking of buying them. And so, advertising needed to resonate with people who were not necessarily customers at that point, but mere potentials.

By connecting themselves with pre-existing life anxieties, brands subtly entered people’s consideration set long before some of them became prospects.

You bought into Vodafone’s promise of return to innocence even if you weren’t in the market for a new mobile connection.

As the power of advertising on mass media declines rapidly due to a variety of factors at play, the consumer decision funnel is undergoing a shift as #Mckinsey pointed out. The previously large consideration set is increasingly getting narrower. The new important stage in brand choice is when someone actively starts to look for the product.

In other words, the marketing game is shifting from non-customers to active customers.

Now surely, there will be opportunities to create emotional brand experiences even at this stage, but they would be different and possibly limited.

An active customer is still the irrational, driven by subconscious being, but is a lot more into evaluating functionalities. (S)he is like the person already at the retail shelf, with very little pre-disposition towards your brand. You have to start telling your story now. The bandwidth to tell and absorb a story is drastically narrower here.

The role of consumption to fulfil identity needs will not go away, but the power to connect your brand to those needs is significantly lower.

Most of the efforts thus far in new marketing appear transactional in comparison to the big idea lead approach. A majority feel like digital avatars of point of purchase material and coupons.

Are you seeing any signs of the big ideas being expressed powerfully elsewhere?

#insights #brands #storytelling #advertising #consumerdecisionjourney