Last week, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the Opinium “Most Connected Brands 2019” launch with Contagious.
The Most Connected Brands Index (which saw Opinium canvas 12,000 consumers) was created to not only show which brands are indispensable to consumers’ daily lives, but also to inspire other brands and businesses on how they can better connect with their consumers in a cluttered, noisy world.
The top 10 this year comprised a mix of technology giants (e.g. Amazon, Samsung, Google) – and FMCG megabrands (e.g. Walkers, Heinz, Cadbury) with each one being a clear example of a brand that is not just tapping into culture, but truly leading it (according to Contagious editor Chloe Markowicz). You can download the full report here.
The panel (which included our client, Matt Leadbeater, the marketing manager of Budweiser) was asked our opinions on how brands can best stay connected to their consumers, what challenges they are facing, as well as which channels are best to connect with consumers in this day and age.
Here were my top three thoughts based around these questions:
- A bland brand with no opinion and nothing to say isn’t going to grow or connect with its audience. But on the flipside, a brand which attaches itself to every cause and issue or tries to capitalise on one without any foundation is opening itself up to a host of criticism.
It’s about finding the issue which really means something and resonates with the brand, and its audience – then taking real steps in help tackle it – at scale. And then, and only then, marketing it and sticking with it (rather than being a flash in the pan).
Having said that, I believe a brand can be equally successful in building connection that doesn’t hook directly into being “purposeful”. In a world full of issues, seriousness and depressing news stories, we’re seeing brands that embrace all that’s wacky / weird and that entertain their consumers also cut through (for example, KFC).
2. As communications experts, one of the biggest challenges we are facing is truly understanding what drives, motivates, inspires and excites a consumer.
Yes, we have a load of data points that tell us where a person shops, how much time they spend on Facebook, how much they are willing to spend on a pint of beer – but it’s hard to take all of this and bundle it into a creative idea.
As an agency, we’ve been working hard at using data and research to understand what a consumer’s values are – what their hopes, dreams and fears are – as if you can align your brand’s values to a person’s, you are much more likely to connect with them (we saw a good example of the use of this in the Brexit campaign – for better or worse).
3. For me, if you look to create connection with something that is a true partnership, an authentic creative collaboration (whether that’s with a media owner, an influencer, a celebrity etc.) and has a clear message, the specific channel doesn’t matter.
A good example is the recent Public Health England Every Mind Matters campaign. Aired on major broadcast channels, fronted by the Royals, full of relevant celebrities, written by Richard Curtis and shot by Rankin – it’s no wonder the earned media pick up and talkability is off the scale.
Finally, to help brands stay firmly connected with their consumers, as well as ensuring we know the brand and audience inside out, it is also about putting the right agency team who culturally and creatively fit the brand (so they themselves have a passion around sport, LGBT rights, a better world, music) – as you’re much more likely to get work that resonates and changes behaviour.