Brand managers must be busy little bees. It seems as though every few years the publics’ attitude takes a drastic swing in one direction or another, usually contradicting itself many times along the way. From the “yuppie” generation of the ’80s to the hi-tech world of the 90s, then the green movement and celebrity culture of the noughties, we now find ourselves on the brink of another shift in public mood. Austerity is in, and according to one blog on the Brand Republic website, money wielding celebrities and footballers are out.
Brand managers of businesses are constantly being forced to “do a Madonna”, reinventing themselves as the public mood changes. So what does that mean for how companies promote themselves in this new decade of austerity? What will the publics’ tastes be as we move through the next few years?
There has certainly been a shift in emphasis by many brands as we entered and subsequently emerged from the recession. Old characters are back such as the Tetley Tea family and advertisers are seemingly trying to remind us all of a much happier, gentler time.
The emergence of viral, digital inspired advertising has also emerged, with companies using entertainment rather than brand message to sell themselves. The famous Meer Cat and the Cadbury’s drumming Gorilla are both examples of how advertisers are steering away from the traditional broadcasting of brand values in order to produce a viral hit.
So in this decade, will the importance of having a brand message and identity be replaced by being the most talked about ad on TV? Is being a cool and fashionable brand now not about who you are and what you stand for but being an X Factor style talking point, selling your brand though producing a series of “water cooler moments”?
The emergence of online marketing and the importance of viral hits have certainly influenced the way marketers operate on TV, but how does this extend to how they sell their brand away from the digital world?
Promotional gifts have long been a successful offline way for companies to enhance their brand image and get this message across to existing and potential clients. Promotional gifts have been a successful way of putting a brand consistent item into the hands of customers that can get across the core of their message.
If the advertising world is stepping away from conveying a core brand message in favour of being the most talked about ad on TV, is there any need to spread this brand message through promotional gifts any more?
One of the problems with abandoning a brand message in favour of viral marketing is that the name of your company can become lost along the way. A successful commercial is one that stands out from the rest, but also enforces the name of the company into the minds of consumers. When done successfully, like the two I mentioned before, the name of the company is remembered among the rest of the imagery. The vivid colouring in the drumming Gorilla Cadbury’s ad means that you can be certain of who the company is, relying on an ages old image of a famous brand to sell themselves in a modern way.
Similarly with the Meer cat, although the notion of a Russian desert animal is a random one, the word ties in nicely with “Market”, making you remember which company it is that is producing the advert.
One ad that has been unsuccessful in tying the two together is the one with the cow that thinks it’s a horse. There’s no doubting the fact that it has become a viral hit and is one of the most talked about ads of the year, but I can’t for the life of me remember what brand it’s trying to promote.
As the new brand revolution continues to take place, with viral successes counting more than brand message, there are lessons that can be learned. Lesson number one is a core marketing principle, that your brand and company name always has to be remembered in any form of promotion. Rather than just relying on being a viral hit, it has to tie in with a strong and memorable brand in order to have any positive and noticeable effect on sales and brand awareness.
Rather than the death of the brand message, the new era of viral advertising has to rely on it as much as ever so that the advertising company will be remembered. Using devices such as branded promotional gifts alongside a viral hit is vital if the brand image is to be reinforced in the minds of customers. As advertising and marketing evolve in this decade, it appears some age old principals still remain the same.
Alan writes articles on issues surrounding the promotional gifts industry for The Promotional Gifts Company. They are aimed at professionals in the marketing, promotional and events industries, as well as those who are looking for effective ways of motivating and incentivising their workplace. You can find other helpful articles at The Promotional Gifts Blog.