The long awaited part deux is finally here. In this part we focus on how brands are being defined and delineated and on the importance of content and content cadence.
The Sacred Cow Is Dead, Long Live The NEW Brand
The reality is for the vast majority of industries, if your brand continues to be defined by a campaign or two, death will be swift. In their place will rise brands that tell their story continuously. Brands that become agile storytellers, always experimenting with the where and how. The catalyst of this change has been the internet, and what it has transformed the way consumers shop, communicate with each other and seek entertainment.
Two brands currently stand out for their differing and successful attempt at staying relevant in the eye of their consumer in this new age. The first is Microsoft who living in a world defined by product has created a design system they call Metro. It's part of their successful attempt to present to customers a coherent alternative to Android and Apple. This design system has been and continues to be systematically applied to every new touchpoint, be it hardware or software.
Red Bull for it's part has hedged its bet on culture. Early on, that meant being the lifestyle drink of the fringe and quirky, think Flutag Festival and Red Bull Air Races. To achieve the goal of becoming a cultural juggernaut on top of the sports/youth culture, Red Bull has been on a mission to create content about the World of Red Bull. That content created around its 600 hundred athletes and various personalities is not an informercial but as they put it an update to support sports an culture. And while it may seem that their success was due to happenstance, it is quite to the contrary due to a systemic approach that starts with their founder, and executed through the rest of the company via the Culture department. What started as fringe has now ascended to mainstream, culminating this year with the year's media event, Red Bull Stratos . That jump did more than captivate viewers, it cemented Red Bull as a media powerhouse to rival Pepsi and Coca Cola.
That is integrating is brand and its positioning as enabling the possible with key cultural events and icons. And while some brands are happy with simply seeing their logos at the events, Red Bull makes sure it gets loads of content from it's sponsorships that can be re-cut/edited to suit their various audience needs. This strategy at first led it to endorse and organize quirky and niche events like the Flutag Festivals and the Red Bull Air Races. But over the last few years that strategy has matured with more mainstream partnerships and culminating this year with the highest free-fall ever. Today, thanks in large part with its systemic approach to content creation, Red Bull is a cultural juggernaut.
There exists many paths to differentiate a brand in this brave new world, while Microsoft pushes a systematic design philosophy as a key differentiator, other brands, like Red Bull & Sprite, have chosen to systematically push lifestyle.
Conclusion: "Old things are beautiful, but new things should look, well...new" goes the design philosophy of Vine and that is exactly how brand stewards should approach their brands. As Microsoft and Red Bull demonstrate, there are many paths to differentiation, but all require a systemic approach to achieving the end goal, creating a lore through many stories that constantly redefines the where and how of the brand, not the what is.
Content, Content, Content
If the Psy Gangnam style video proved anything, it's that there is a hunger for new and fresh content. But the hunger content had arrived before Psy and his stylish shorts. Indeed according to a survey of internet users for Broadcomm, nearly 87% of respondent consumed 11 hours or more of online content a week. Folks are surfing online as much as they are surfing the airwaves. While Youtube and Korean pop have fed our addiction, it was "real-time" content popularized by Twitter's feed and now on virtually all social networks that has trained us to expect up to the minute updates. And where folks wander or congregate, brands should follow, as we've become our own distribution networks.
If you're a music fan you've surely seen the changes. A long ago established cadence for new content, the yearly album release, continues to be challenged by fans hunger for continuous engagement. While singles in the 80s and EPS have shorten the cycle between content cycles, music services like Spotify and SoundCloud are driving fans hunger for content even more. DJs seem to have been the most apt at adapting to this. One such DJ DeadMau5, not only keeps fans entertained by integrating them in the song process from time to time, but is a very active social networker with active twitter and Instagram accounts, not only interacting with fans but detailing his life to a very granular detail. In addition, DeadMau5 is also known to be a big gamer regularly hosting Minecraft sessions as well as live streaming on occasion. This level of access and content creation makes him one of the best known DJs in the world, an ascension from relative obscurity that took less than 3 years to achieve.
Conclusion: To stay in the consideration set and be the topic of conversations or engagements, a brand cannot simply be social, not if they want to lead a category. Like any good party host, brands will need to provide their audience with ample reasons to have a conversation about them. But the stakes are higher today., content cannot be static, it needs to be relevant, engaging and entertaining. And it needs to that day in and day out, not just on day 1 of the site or campaign launch. Lastly this content requirement is almost universal, whether you make band aids or TV sets, the question you should be able to answer is how are you engaging your users in a fresh way on a daily basis.
Any other brands of notes that you think are doing things right?