Branding in chaos

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Inspiration, collaboration and innovation are more important than the old standbys of value, trustworthiness and consistency, says Mechanica's CEO.

Marketers today are operating in unprecedented chaos born out of speed, complexity and technological advancements—and they’re struggling to survive.

A recent survey by Korn/Ferry reveals that CMOs have the shortest lifespan within the C-Suite—a mere 3 years on average. In this world, inspiration, collaboration and innovation are much more important than the old standbys of value, trustworthiness and consistency. As markets and consumers become increasingly restless and demand more from brands, agencies must help CMOs reinvent their brands and the way they engage their customers across various touch points.

As marketers learn to navigate this restless market, we’ve seen and heard consistency in the pain points that they’re facing. These pain points, including the constant need for reinvention and repositioning, launching new products, reaching new audiences and more are all key pillars that must remain top-of-mind for marketers as they shepherd brands through the chaos. But while each of these problems are equally important to solve, we find ourselves working most on two different tasks.

Reinventing and Repositioning Your Brand
We tell our clients constantly that, in order to reinvent and reposition your brand, you must be willing to recognize those elements of your brand that may in fact be holding you back. That, no matter how valuable your equity was in the past, it may not be enough to carry you through.

This happens more frequently than you might imagine in chaotic markets—think Apple, McDonald’s, Philip Morris (now Altria) and Target, to name a few. In order to address this necessary shift, marketers and brands must work together to reexamine everything that the brand thought it was in order to find out what it can be. This means objectively assessing everything from your target audience to your product offering, to your name and visual branding. 

Innovating in Social
Just like with mobile, increasingly, marketers are coming around to the idea of a social-first marketing strategy. But social isn’t as simple as pay-for-play influencer posts. When it comes to social content and influencer marketing, co-creation is one of the only ways to produce truly authentic content. The Instagram activation by Bacardi and Swizz Beats, which gave users the opportunity to act as the DJ, is an example of an authentically co-created campaign from an alcohol brand that has always championed musicians.

Similarly, Keds launched the Keds Collective, a curated group of celebrated industry leaders’—actress Allison Williams and musical artists Ciara and Tori Kelly—who embody the brand's overarching commitment to powerful women, creativity and self-expression.

Today’s chaotic environment presents tremendous challenges for marketers, but also creates endless opportunities. By identifying and addressing marketers’ pain points head on, we as partners will be able to better support them as they navigate the difficult conditions ahead.

Ted Nelson is Co-Founder and CEO of Mechanica.