Everybody wants to believe they work for brands that are among the best. But just as marketers are in the business of telling others stories, they also tell themselves stories about the brands they work for. And some of those stories are just not good.
Often, when people in agencies talk about brand strategy, what they are meaning is the thinking that has led to the work they have been doing on the brand. That’s not brand strategy.
Marketers love what they do and with good reason. It’s exciting, stimulating and inspiring to work on a great brand. But the rise of ad-blockers proves something no-one wants to admit. Brands are failing to maintain interest. Consumers want out of the messaging. Literally.
Personalisation is the quest of the moment for so many marketers, with 70% of executives interviewed by Forrester saying it is now of strategic importance to their business. (What may surprise you, as it did me, is how generalised so much marketing still is.)
A recent conversation with a client looking for an ad agency was a reminder of just how little of its own dog food the industry eats. Her assertion that “they all look the same and say the same things” highlighted just how difficult brand differentiation is. It’s so hard in fact that even those who claim to do it for a living struggle to do it for themselves.
“Everybody’s talking at me. I don’t hear a word they’re saying,” observed Harry Nilsson in 1969. 45 years on, it seems a lot of people are still not listening – but brands should be. New findings from Gallup suggest marketers may be pinning the wrong hopes on social media.
Too many brands continue to fail at convincingly placing what they have to offer inside the lives of the people they are trying to reach. A lot of that seems to come down to a simple mis-alignment of priorities: whilst marketing teams ponder data and speak earnestly about really understanding their buyers as individuals, those interests are not reflected as clearly as they should be in what they end up saying.