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Corona lockdown: A perfect time for soulful branding and marketing

Gerard Hoff, Chief Strategy, Soundboard and Nishith Srivastava, Chief Digital Transformation, Soundboard, write why brands should take the time to define their true purpose, create a genuine brand personality and think about ‘daily’ conversations to build relationships (friendship) with clients and prospects during this time of crisis

We all are struggling to stay afloat and justify our brand and marketing initiatives in this turbulent time, but another thing becomes apparent as well.

In our mad rush for performance marketing, ROI and effectiveness, many brands forgot, or didn’t take the time, to define their true purpose, to create a genuine brand personality and think about ‘daily’ conversations to build relationships (friendship) with clients and prospects.

Because of that, some of them are facing some serious challenges now:

1. The difficulty to suddenly switch from pushing audience to buy (subtly or directly), to becoming an aware, rational and empathetic friend.

2. Finding a way to be relevant and contextual. Since the approach has always been "Buy my product", it’s tough to maintain visibility and create brand love (cutting the clutter).

3. Creating a culture of self-discipline, ownership and motivation, ensuring effective output from employees working from home.

The power of brands with personality and purpose

It’s a very simple equation: The higher the brand power, the lower the sales effort.

Brand building driven by purpose and personality pays off in a multiple and synergetic way, ensuring short-term sales and visibility. Every touchpoint then adds to building brand power:

Brand a North star

A brand is more than a customer facing signage. It’s a powerful internal signage as well. It’s the North Star for employees giving a clear direction of what the brand stands for and what’s expected of them how to be and to behave towards any stakeholder, including customers.

Brand as source of energy

The brand becomes the source of energy for employee motivation. It’s the heart of inspiration and creativity, with a bottom line of lowering cost while increasing output. On top of it, creates synchronicity of minds, which is a very powerful thing that goes beyond advertising.

Brand proudness

Brand (community) members are proud of the brand they work for and talk about it on parties and social events. Yes, that has a severe impact on effective output of employees who have to work from home now. Good brands create a culture of self-discipline and ownership.

Brand as a friend: From push to embrace

Now companies that forgot to take care of their brands are struggling to switch suddenly from pushing (unsubtle and rude) their audience to buy towards becoming part of their emotional evoked set of preferred brands, a friend, someone to rely on.

Marketers are challenged to look for new avenues for effective distribution of their marketing budgets to ensure continuous engagement with their consumers.

Staying visible in the market amid lockdown

In this hour of uncertainty, when social distancing is considered to be the best remedy; we as a society have risen up and are supporting, guiding, educating our peers to be safe. Our society needs that support, empathy and extra resources. Brands can and should take the same approach.

We love to quote The Godfather "Go to the mattresses" — basically, use these days to prepare for the battle and in parallel bring out the soul of the brand.

That gives inspiration to implement ‘The Mere Exposure Effect’  leading to ESOV (Excess SOV or SOV – SOM)) – the marketing phenomenon by which consumers develop a preference for your brand and products merely because they see it more and are familiar with them. Kellogg’s, Procter & Gamble, Lucky Strike, Toyota, Disney, General Electrics and Colgate know how that works as their success is rooted in this tactic.

It does not require additional media budget per sé, but is does require a soul and creativity to create the right content. The objective should be to showcase who the brand is, what it stands for, its interests and how your brand is taking initiatives as a community and empowering its people. Create content to convey care, understanding, empathy with your employees, stakeholders as well as your consumers.

Although new customer acquisition may be on a pause mode, your existing customers and brand evangelists are your secret weapon, use them as your content marketing channel to amplify your message. Empower them to create social proofs and positive stories and amplify the reach of your brand’s purpose and thinking.

From hygiene to hello again

We love the Hero-Hub -Hygiene approach Google presented a few years back, but always had a difficulty with the word Hygiene. It’s created as the always-on ‘pull’ content designed for your core target aimed at their searches. Hygiene, like necessary evil.

We changed it into Hello Again. We see it as a daily opportunity to inform, inspire, delight, surprise, making wonder, activate to alert, or just put a smile on your face. It’s the art of storytelling or: the “art” of giving shape and meaning to a piece of information that’s dull and boring (which most products are). That’s why it’s important to find a ‘Soul space’ — that goes beyond just hygiene— uniquely fitting the brand in all facets and is abundant.

Adopting soulful branding & marketing

The important thing is to remember it's not about creating just content the old (pre-Corona) way. Brands need to 'Walk the Talk' too, create a two-way street, i.e. not just push messages but start living up to that promise and belief of being a community too.

Research says that brands perceived as authentic are evaluated more positively and have higher market share. When it is done with the right intention and approach, (as BrandZ explained), be the brand that makes people' lives better, even if it's in a small way.

This is the perfect opportunity for brands to adopt soulful branding.

Bring out the soul of your brand and use it as the ultimate and divine filter for everything the brand does. Evolve your marketers as chief brand soul officers – let them live and breathe the brand and demonstrate the spirit and energy to shape up your relationship with your audience.

Just ask yourself "If your brand was a person, would you be friend?".

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of BestMediaInfo.com and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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