The brand renaissance: time to go back to basics

According to Forrester Research, we’re in the middle of a marketing renaissance. But the Renaissance is remembered for a return to humanism – and for many brands right now, that’s an ingredient that is sorely lacking.

It’s true that today, it’s easier than ever for brands to connect with people. Our ever-increasing data footprint maps our every want, need and fear online for brand managers to segment and use. But with the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer telling us that only 56% of people trust business, clearly something is going wrong in this quest to win customers.

If the marketing world wants a real renaissance, interactions between businesses and their customers need to start feeling human again. And that doesn’t have to mean less automated; it just means the same personality and purpose should infuse every interaction.

Basically, it means getting your brand in order.

Here’s what to bear in mind when getting back to basics with your brand.

 

1. A more human brand needs human champions

A strong brand gives everyone in the business a shared purpose and shared values to get behind. Then, every customer they interact with gets to experience what matters to the business, first-hand.

And the benefits of uniting your team behind a strong brand don’t stop there. Wellbeing and belonging research shows that the most effective and productive teams are those with a shared vision for the future. The 2018 Great Places to Work survey found that when employees believe their company has a high-trust culture, they’re 22 times more likely to want to work there for a long time. And the same survey found that millennials who like their workplace are 59 times more likely to strongly endorse the company to family and friends.

So it’s no surprise that businesses who are investing in their brand, their culture and their team’s wellbeing are raking in both top talent and brand loyalty.

If the marketing world wants a real renaissance, interactions between businesses and their customers need to start feeling human again.

2. It’s almost impossible to have a human interaction with a bot​

Consider carefully how much of your brand’s customer interaction is going to hinge on artificial intelligence.

There’s no doubt that automated interactions have real value – customer service chatbots enable consumers to carry out such a wide variety of tasks, bots now account for more internet traffic than humans!

But they go wrong in so many ways, large and small, like a few years ago when a bot seriously embarrassed Microsoft. I can’t be the only person with a regional accent that Alexa, Siri and the local cinema booking line struggle to understand. And when that happens, I want a human I can turn to for help. In the age of authenticity and transparency, this is going to be all the more important.

3. There’s a fine line between helpful and creepy

The marketing renaissance idea assumes that people welcome online tracking and personalised advertising, but that isn’t always the case.

When it’s personally relevant, it can be really welcome. Amazon peppers its sites with product recommendations based explicitly on users’ search history, with hardly any backlash. I recently found out Stevie Wonder was playing Hyde Park this summer, thanks to a Facebook ad based on a search I’d made, and I was grateful for the heads-up.

But one study showed that when websites tell users their activity is being tracked, ad click-through rates drop significantly. It’s a fine line to tread.

A clearly defined brand includes a clear purpose: who you’re here for, what you offer them and when. Knowing your purpose will help you tread that fine line with confidence and conviction.

The relationship between businesses and their customers is always evolving, but get the basics of your brand right and that relationship will be coherent, well rounded and far more human. It’s a short step from there to trust and brand loyalty.

Jonathan Walker
Client Partner

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