BRANDING & SOCIAL MEDIA
The other day, I was trying to explain some features of branding to one of my young colleagues and in that second, it struck me like a lightning.
The thing is: there are big fashion waves in marketing (nowadays it is "content" and Big Data, but I am old enough to remember claims like "CRM is the king", "consumer makes 80 % of his/her purchase decisions in PoS and your budget allocation should reflect that", "viral marketing", "neuromarketing" and "User Generated Content - the people will tell us what they want"). Well - us marketing people love marketing and thus marketing industry has to market to itself - we are basically continuously pitching to ourselves. The recent big pitch was was won by Social Media and it seemed to become the new black of all fields of commercial communication.
However, branding is the black suit that never gets outworn, and it has been the biggest weakness of Social Media marketing so far. Clash of the new and old world caused a dramatical shift on both sides of the table, agencies and clients, but the happy end is yet very far from happening. Young guns who often refer to themselves as ninjas or gurus hardly ever understand branding. They, or maybe I can say we, usually understand the tools. Some of us well, some of us on expert level, some of us at least well pretend to do so. But the essence of brands, the underlying message that would be delivered in coherent way in dissolved digital environment and be there in every tweet, Vine video or Reddit discussion answer, that's not in our inventory. There are several reasons for this.
One reason is the overall junior level of the Social Media industry itself. "OOH" has been around at least 8 500 year, modern-form print advertising since 17th Century, electronic media forever 60 years. Social Media have brought equally significant communication paradigm shift as the invention of print yet it is barely in its teen age, so we can not simply expect mature approach. The second main reason I see is a lack media awareness of advertising industry. Media are, in my opinion, still perceived as an extension to the precious are of storytelling, not its indivisible part. Like it or not, TV spot is still the king of the jungle and in the perception of traditional creatives, it just "runs on TV". The fact that medium is the message and the modern technology determines the delivery is omitted, which is a big mistake. Famous campaigns like W+K's Old Spice Responses masterpiece or Athenos Hummus campaign (one of the best Droga5's Cultural-based planning examples around) are tightly bound to (Social) Media they work with - Twitter in case Old Spice, Youtube & the meme culture in the second case - and the result is stunning. In addition, isn't it an amazing option for any branding professional to use behavioral targeting again allowed by Social Media? That means choosing channels that are really relevant to the brand DNA, compared to the traditional hope that someone from our target group simply has to watch the movie in prime time when there are millions of viewers sitting in front of the TV screen at that time every night? My conclusion is that good old branding approach combined with the deep understanding of modern Social Media makes the difference in between a "some old-fashioned agency" and "some Social Media ninjas hut" and a team that is able to make the world stop and listen.
All right, not the world. The target group is enough.