By Damaris Valero 06-07-2015
Our media options have increased and evolved more in the past decade than over the previous century. We are living in times that call for constant change, and those changes are being experienced at a surface level but are impacting us collectively to the core. How we act, react and consume mutates constantly.
As the playing field evolves, brands need to be wiser. Their messages to consumers need to be more refined and emotionally engaging. A more creative way to do this has to be in the works. It feels more important than ever for brands to react to a new world order where brand managers and networks are thinking more about connecting emotionally and being meaningful on all possible media platforms, including social media.
The consequences of slow evolution are concluded in one fact: consumers are less passive and more demanding about what suits their personal needs. A consumer no longer travels to content, content must travel to the consumer.
Therefore, the new keyword for brands is ‘omnipresence.’ This is the new business model. Inclusion – not exclusion – of any new media. Once again, the key to this is knowing what type of creative message fits best on each platform. Old media does not have to compete with new media. The plan must carry out the vision by which they complete and not compete with one another. Brand leaders must remain vigilant of this fragile balance.
How does constant change impact a brand? Today, a brand preserving the status quo is almost non-existent. Brands are experiencing a process of evolution, riding a fast track and being forced into an express lane. The positioning of a brand within a tumultuous world of options is the new challenge. The labyrinth of media options that a brand must consider requires a new order for action. This redefines when it makes the most sense to be ‘in’ and for how long. The big question is whether to live inside or outside relevant content – content that has been created with the brand in mind.
Brand doctors now have to rethink ways to evolve along with technology. Media evolution does not only mean having more options to choose from – it also means creating ways to react in a blink of an eye before being moved out of the game.
In my dealings with so many content creators and brands, I’ve come to identify one common pitfall. Brand leaders come to the table after the idea has been created, not at the starting point. The key is to identify the moment when the idea is still just an idea and immediately look for brands to partner with rather than to leave the brand out as a placeholder to be filled later.
The 101 on a key branded entertainment principle is that the unfolding of the story of a brand has to happen along with the development of the idea. Timing is everything here. To create a successful foundation for branded entertainment, the story of the brand within the content needs to unfold organically and alongside the content itself – the story must feel natural to the consumer; otherwise the message risks being ignored.
This creative mesh must continue refining itself and serving as the stage where the brand’s story will live. The brand can then be like an actual character within the content: it has a purpose, a message and a destination. The idea can then transform into engaging content as the development process unfolds. The trick is that both the content and the brand need to be set on ‘start’ about the same time.
Some of the best examples of failing to mesh the brand and content from the beginning concern mass-consumption brands. These have often tried to create new content with no ‘star power’ or at times have pushed a product based on a hard-sell instead of a soft-sell approach – a sure recipe for disaster.
In the past, cleaning product brands have fallen into this trap. Because their target is to reach a range of consumers as wide as possible, some consumer cleaning product brands (due to their frequency of use and price point) must align with distributors and producers that can make outstanding popular and engaging content and not settle for anything less. If star power can be added to the mix, then instant recognition and an emotional connection are more attainable. Instead, too often, mass-consumption brands go for the hard sell by making the product and its consumption too obvious.
Branded entertainment means content needs to be united to the brand from the ignition point without being obvious. This technique is a soft sell. Branded entertainment deals must live, as I call it, in a ‘Switzerland’ of media and brands – the nature of being neutral to all parties no matter what.