Does Your Communication Still Look Like Matching Luggage?

The concept of ‘matching luggage’ appealed when marketers first responded to channel proliferation with a drive to integrate their communications by using the same look and feel. Of course fashions change, and as people learnt more about how digital channels worked, marketing evolved to integrating around an idea – so there was still a co-ordination of luggage, but it didn’t all have to be the same colour.

Today, as more brands are recognising that a meaningful consumer experience is the key to delivering growth, communications must move on again. The key is to aim to be ‘freshly consistent’. Evolving from just broadcasting a message via mass media to thinking about how to drive awareness, engage the consumer and invite participation is a first step.  This isn’t about having a separate ‘digital engagement’ plan – but ensuring digital communications and experiences are woven into the plan from its inception. A further step is to create a mutually beneficial relationship with consumers, which evolves and develops as the consumer moves through their ‘journey’.  To deliver this successfully, the focus must switch from consumer communications to consumer engagement, and the capability agenda must switch to support this.

It’s powerful enough to take the energy in chaos and harness it for it’s own purposes. All our energies must be dedicated to moving our messages in the direction that matters. To be freshly consistent the communication must be:

What is important to note is that a Brand does not have to utilise ‘digital’ for the discipline of ‘freshly consistent’ have to be applied. Classic brands that endure over time do not present differently every time (as this does not provide a cumulative effect of brand investment over time). The elements may offer freshness but the core is consistent over time.

A brand that has managed to be freshly consistent is James Bond. It’s critical to stretch Brand Character to remain relevant and reflect cultural shifts in society.

This can be achieved by constantly evolving the way we tell the story of our character through our tone of voice, iconography, adversaries and Brand Purpose. This concept is clearly evident in the James Bond film franchise. While the character of Bond, remains remarkably stable, the storyline of the franchise changes over time to reflect the social adversaries of the time – every hero needs a villain to fight against. What’s more, each actor who played the James Bond character brought with them a slightly different style and tone of voice.

As a result, Bond’s story has remained fresh and relevant while staying true to the universal appeal of the characters Essence. Testament to the success of this strategy is the fact that the Bond franchise has had incredible longevity, with 22 films over three decades grossing more than $11 billion in profit. It is important to note that the core idea is the same but have refreshed the elements for over 22 years. Each film is equivalent to an Activity Idea. At the same time there are a number of key icons that have remained consistent.

We should have a flexible set of guardrails (not a set of handcuffs) when evaluating our communication:

  • Fits brand – purpose/ positioning –
  • Amplifies Brand Idea – story & iconography.

 If it isn’t cumulative, we are not managing our investment

Whilst we need to be true to our Creative Platform we have to have the flexibility in the elements to bring fresh consistency.

In James Bond:

  • Actor can is different
  • Evil foe is different
  • The leading lady is different
  • The car and gadgets are different

Need to be in alignment as to what we keep the same and what are the things we can change to keep fresh.

CMO Perspective – Red Bull

Red Bull, the high-energy drink, has created a brand that did over $6 billion in global sales last year. It gets its brand visibility and energy from a host of exclusive events, often involving unusual and sometimes astonishing feats.

For example, in its Flutag competition, held annually in cities worldwide since 1992, participants with homemade, human-powered flying machines try to fly off a pier 20 to 30 feet high. The winner is judged on distance (the record is 258 feet), creativity and showmanship. The highlights video is a Red Bull signature story and has been seen by well over 10 million on You Tube and many more on the website and elsewhere.

The most spectacular Red Bull Event story was a live presentation of Felix Baumgartner rising more than 24 miles above the New Mexico desert in a 55-story-high, ultrathin helium Red Bull Stratos balloon jumping off and reaching a record breaking 843 m.p.h during a nine minute fall before landing safely.

Some eight million saw a live view of the event, and tens of millions more have seen it on You Tube. There were companion stories on elements of the project, including the preparation for the event and the aftermath.

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