Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Winning in the Post-Brand Era (post 4 of 4)

Read post 1 here
Read post 2 here
Read post 3 here

Now what?

Marketers have reached an era when branding has lost some of its mojo.  The ongoing excellence of highly targeted marketing tools counterweigh the classic brand by making it possible to drive sales at a sharply reduced cost.  Marketers now must ask themselves "what's the best mix of approaches to accomplish our goals?"  How do marketers win in a world where they can't expect the brand to serve as the organizing principle?

Marketers must shift their focus from the destination, so to speak, to the Journey.

No, not that Journey

Still the wrong Journey

Now you're cooking with gas

McKinsey Consulting promulgated the concept of the Customer Journey a few years ago as a means for comparing disparate purchase paths.  However, it also doubles as a nifty way for organizing marketing communications.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Defining the Post-Brand Era (post 3 of 4)

See Post 1 (Welcome to the Post-Brand Era)
See Post 2 (How The Brand Era Happened)

Most marketers can recognize the calling cards of the Brand Era--USPs, mass media, sponsorships and so forth.  However, they may not recognize the Post-Brand Era.  Simply put, the Post-Brand era describes the present marketing environment in which brands no longer comprise the only--or even the most efficient--means for finding and keeping customers.  Other marketing approaches have arisen to shoulder the burden.  These approaches all share one common trait: situational relevance.

In other words, we now market in an environment where we can predict the right place, the right time or, sometimes, the right price that will overwhelm the right brand.

To understand the Post-Brand Era, we should first consider the factors that led to its emergence.  As many would expect, technology played a major role.  However, the technology in question isn't SoLoMo (social, local, mobile), the Internet or even the computer.  Instead, a technology ecosystem enabling communication and commerce with widely dispersed and decentralized tendrils reaching nearly everywhere on the planet led the way.

You call it the Post Office.

Friday, June 14, 2013

How the Brand Era Happened (post 2 of 4)

See post 1 of 4 here.

As we'll discuss, marketing has evolved into the post-brand era, a time in which the traditional promise-driven brand means less than it used to mean.  Instead, alternative approaches--largely addressable--have emerged to challenge the brand's dominance.  In other words, we can no longer build marketing campaigns around a single idea and must instead complement branding with other approaches to convince audiences.

However, before delving into the post-brand era, we should spend some time defining the brand era and how it got that way.  Simply put, the brand as we know it today arose in 19th Century America to serve manufacturers and service providers amidst changing technologies.  They used brands to augment and/or replace traditional salesmanship.

Understanding the 19th-century technologies that led to the rise of brands will help us give context to the 20th- and 21st-century technologies that currently challenge the brand construct.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Welcome to the Post-Brand Era

The modern brand has a had a good run.

Born in the years after the U.S. Civil War, the modern brand owes its genesis to the near-simultaneous emergence of three mass phenomena--mass production, mass transportation and, most importantly, mass media.  The brand developed and grew over a century and a half and has, I think, reached its zenith due to the emergence of more diversified production, just-in-time delivery and, most importantly, the ubiquity of addressable (read: individualized) media.

Brands and branding will never die; nothing useful ever does.  However, the brand will recede in its importance, giving ground to ever-more personalized and individually-relevant forms of marketing.  Marketers who continue to ply the trade will have to adapt for the post-brand era.

Over the next few posts (I'm planning three, but you know how I like to prattle on), I'll outline the specifics:

  1. The brand and how it got that way
  2. What the post-brand era means
  3. How marketers should work in the post-brand era
However, let me summarize as briefly as I can.

Monday, June 3, 2013

When Your Logo Isn't a Logo

Minor controversy emerged here in New York City last week as the Mayor's office unveiled a new symbol to indicate accessibility for people with disabilities:

New Icon

Old Icon

The new symbol garnered some negatives from critics, as noted in this article.  Among other things, blind people objected because the icon seems to equate disabilities with mobility disabilities only, thus leaving blind or perhaps deaf people out.

Moreover, others simply didn't see a need to change.  After all, the traditional wheelchair symbol enjoys universal recognition in the industrialized world.

So why change?  I'd argue that more than saying "this facility offers access to people with disabilities," it serves another perhaps higher purpose--branding disability.