Featured

Be More Rainbow: How Brands Can Stand Out & Connect With People in Three Strategic Steps

Introduction

I believe most agencies could talk about the ‘7Ps of the marketing mix’ – or derivatives of it – so to provide unique thoughts on how brands can connect with people and stand out, I have likened my advice to the key characteristics and attributes of the awe-inspiring rainbow.

I know what you’re thinking but stay with me!

I presented this talk at a Google Partners event and it was originally inspired by my Forefront talk, which I then developed into a more conclusive approach, demonstrating a fresh and integrated path to considering and building strategies.

Watch the video

My three main steers for brands to stand out and connect with people are:

  1. Unity: The rainbow holds a ubiquitous meaning of unity between sky and earth, sun and rain, nature and science. I discuss how the integration of tactics, services and teams, plus anomnichannel approach, makes for harmonic, awe-inspiring effect.
  2. Possibility: Rainbows introduce us to reflections of different, beautiful, infinite I take a fresh look at messaging, asking: is there another way as we prepare to move into a new light and see things with a new perspective?
  3. Connection: I promise this isn’t an ode to a rainbow…the rainbow stands for more than its form, and it stops people in their tracks, pulling people together through an experience. I discuss how brands can use today’s complex network for opportunity to engage and connect people, amid the proliferation of new media.

How the unification of data and emotion uncovers what people really want

Historically, brands have been communicating to their customers with one message, to one audience, with one intention – profit.  But we’re not all the same, are we? We’re different. We have different needs. We are people.

So why is it that brands are still dictating to, rather than communicating with people? Still pushing messages like:

  • Our products are great
  • This celebrity likes it, so you will
  • Follow us
  • Like this
  • Try that
  • Buy now

Brands would have greater success recruiting, converting and retaining customers if they looked less at the product and more at the people. Brands would not only gain loyalty, but inspire it, if they stood out from the generic mass.

Therefore, when designing a strategy, we start with the data, but let’s remember that big data is people. Data is not an objective profile of our likes and dislikes, it is our digital DNA that showcases our preferences. Unify data with emotion by using data to drive your thinking and build foundations to your creativity.

The power of knowing what your audience really wants

My talk includes a case study by Adidas that I believe demonstrates harmonic unity.

Adidas identified what their customers want; what they love and how their product can help them achieve that. In showing their understanding of their customers, in this case, urban city runners, they identified the greatest obstacle preventing people from their passion – traffic signals. In their words, traffic lights prevented urban city runners from “the free-flowing, pulse-racing, soul-releasing liberation of the unfettered city run” and, through the unification of emotion and data, they found a solution.

Adidas collaborated with the Tokyo police department to capture the data to then calculate the cycle of every light in the city. From this, they engineered an algorithm, so runners were notified of the signal changes, essentially turning a chaotic city run into a game and never being blocked again.

This initiative was campaign wrapped in The Green Light Run, video content was curated, pushed omnichannel, and the interest spread.

Adidas created a magic formula of integration, conjuring a systematic experience that stitched together a series of tactics, the marriage of data and emotion and a simple common thread of people.

Adidas removed the blockers and simply asked – what do people want?

How people’s needs can shape your strategy, tone of voice and brand aesthetic

There is always another way and if that way considers people, first, we need to go directly to those people and discover their needs.

Case study: Pull-Ups

One of our clients is Huggies and we are currently redesigning the entire potty training site for Huggies Pull-Ups to effectively deliver what their customers want. From the brand aesthetic to the tone of voice, right down to the language used in each CTA. These changes are informed by people and are enabling Huggies to outstand competitors through differentiation.

We started by interviewing people across the target personas we had identified, largely parents and carers, asking them for their true thoughts and attitudes on potty training. We also knew these people are time short and couldn’t be pinned down to one date, time or place, so we took the focus group to them. We held a digital focus group via live video chat, allowing parents and carers to dip in and out when it suited them, conducting the interviews from their own homes – usually with kids running around in the background, but this was their reality. It was our exact intention to capture that.

Using key sentiments and audience insight to roll out your strategy

The digital focus group revealed key sentiment trends that were very insightful. We discovered parents were under pressure and dreaded the potty training experience. They were in desperate need of being communicated to ‘like an adult’.

It also revealed a misunderstanding of the product benefits. People were comparing Pull-Ups to a nappy pant, which is incorrect, seeing Pull-Ups as a step backward; a blocker toward the end goal of their child wearing real underwear.

We knew the brand experience needed to be more relatable and understanding. Huggies needed to show they could read their customers minds and deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person, on the right channel, and articulate the product benefits in a clear and engaging way.

To be more rainbow, we considered that parents don’t want to learn more – they already learn enough, every second of the day! They felt pressured and overwhelmed, so we changed the CTA in ads from learn more to let’s get started. A simple change that indicated a more captivating, supportive and encouraging communication.

Uncovering possibilities doesn’t have to mean entirely new, but it does mean being less comfortable, less assuming and more in touch with the reason you are doing what you’re doing, and whom you’re doing it for.

Why basing a strategy on human truth makes people your influencers

An effective experience brings people together for greater impact, it delivers what the people want. It speaks to us, it immerses is, it is us.

If you understand your customers and present an experience based on human truth, empowering those people and inviting them in to be a part of it, they will become your influencers.

My talk looks at a case study that brings this strategy to life by Vaseline Clinical Therapy. This brand used real people to tell a story about their product.

They collaborated with these people and obtained authentic footage of their influencers and carved it up for a successful multimedia, omnichannel campaign. In the end converting some three million new customers and seeing a sales increase of 38%.

Beautiful, simple and effective, right? This strategy was based on the simple human truth: ‘if you love it, you’ll recommend it’.

Vaseline empowered people to pass on the product by ‘prescribing’ it to others – cementing their ‘prescription strength’ brand claim. They were very targeted with the people they chose to work with, which directly related to what they needed and what they knew the product could deliver.

Your people-first, stand-out strategy summary:

In today’s ad-inundated, chaotic and fragmented marketplace, I’ve given you three ways to stand out; to be more rainbow:

  1. Unify and integrate your approach: Break down the silos, marry data with emotion to uncover what people really want as a basis to then deliver that.
  2. Uncover new possibilities: Always ask questions, who are we really talking to? Does this show we understand our customers? Is the current way the most effective way?
  3. Orchestrate a customer experience that is seamless, integrated and consistent: Invite real people into your story, co-create that story with them, empower them to tell it for you.

Finally, to leave you with one more point: instead of going too far the other way and desperately trying to find an easy way to create and deploy several campaigns across several channels, from several teams, look for ways to achieve greater customer relevance based on what the people you are targeting really want.

If you don’t get the people right, the strategy won’t matter.  If you don’t consider the people, you won’t be able to execute your strategy.

So, stand out, turn the other way and differentiate, capture imaginations and make it feel special; personal.

Be daring, be brave, be inspiring.

Be more rainbow.