When you want to build a brand: Change the world
Remember that great brands are easy enough to build.
Few professions seem to hold as little regard for knowledge as advertising. Almost as if the evidence of how brands grow could somehow pose a threat to the creative magic.
At Revolt, we choose to build our approach not around hunches, but on the shoulders of giants – the IPA databank and the Ehrenberg Bass Institute. Why? Because their evidence is clear.
The difference between big and small brands doesn’t come down to how many people like them or how many people follow them, it comes down to how many people buy them.
You sell a lot? You’ve got a big brand. You don’t sell a lot? Bye-bye. So to grow a brand, your advertising needs to talk to the people who don’t buy you. Yet. It needs to work not by cultivating the love of a few, but by grabbing the interest of the many. You don’t need it to make people think of your brand as different – you just need to get them to think of it at all. So people can put a
name to your brand.
It’s as simple as that. But not so simple when you consider 89% of advertising is immediately forgotten. Not blocked, not ignored, not badly targeted. Just badly conceived. Turns out advertising is easy. Great advertising less so.
The formula for success is clear.
When the brand comes readily to mind, market share follows. But people think much less than we think they think. Particularly about advertising.
Our brands have to find a way into a world of low involvement processing. A world of cognitive misers and collective indifference. A world where to us, advertising is important stuff. But where to others, advertising is just more stuff.
But we have two weapons in this fight against apathy: fame and feeling.
Aim for fame and there’s a good chance fortune will follow. Because remarkable campaigns get remarked on.
Emotional response, meanwhile, is the most predictive measure of business effectiveness. It delivers higher sales, greater market share and reduces price sensitivity. You touch their hearts and you’ll reach their minds.
Advertising that makes people feel something draws them closer, triggering more associations and instinctively leaves them feeling more favourably towards that brand.
When you pick the right fight, your brand can ignite that rage in others.
Unforgettable brands rely on fame and feeling. But when advertising forgets the people it should be talking to, those people forget the advertising. And the best antidote to this indifference? To show you care. The audience is unlikely to be interested in your insight, your POV or your news. What they will be interested in, is your fight. If it gets you fired up, it’ll probably get them fired up too.
When you make your brand part of the change you want to see in the world, you start mattering to people. So make a stand. Take a stance. Tackle an injustice. Lead a revolution if you want. Because speaking out on the social, environmental and political issues of the day is a shortcut to the beating heart of pop culture.
Within that cacophonous wall of noise, it’s activist brands that turn up most on our news streams and phone screens. Of the most famous campaigns of the past two years, the advertising which fought to change something enjoyed 31% more shares and likes than any other. Seems like making a difference makes sense in every way.
When you fight for something, your audience feels it too. In emotional testing, no advertising cuts through more than when it’s fighting for social good. People will forget exactly what you said, but they will never forget exactly what you fought for.
Learn from the great revolutions of the past.
The biggest opportunity is for communications to invite consumers to join the fight. Put purpose at the heart of your marketing. For brands to become activists. For our campaigns to become revolutions. Using tactics that are not only crystal clear, they’re easily replicated. Pick a fight. And keep fighting it.
Revolutions start with a No and end with a Yes. So find a battle small enough to win but big enough to matter. Establish your cause and act on it. After all, there’s no point rallying an army without a battle plan. Do you want them to raise pressure? Or raise funds? Are you trying to shift behaviours or minds? Change laws or attitudes?
Build an action that engages your audience. Makes them foot soldiers of your movement. Lead a rallying cry. A call to arms that acts as your statement of intent. A manifesto that turns into your mantra. Words that become your chant, your sign-off, your #hashtag.
Create a symbol. An image that those on the inside are proud of, and those on the outside covet. Treat your iconography as an invitation to participate.
Launch a mindbomb. No matter how worthy your fight, it needs eyeballs to have impact. Nobody can start a fight in an empty room. Give the world an image that can’t be ignored. One that travels on the back of cultural impact rather than media spend.
Spoonfeed the facts, force-feed the emotion. When everyone is silent, you’ll be amazed how loud one voice can be. Develop propaganda. Worship at the temple of publicity with tactics that maintain a constant hum in popular culture.
Once you’ve made your point – keep making it. New stories, fresh ideas, content, opinion pieces. Never underestimate the power of small multiplied by often.
Finally, forge allies. Insure yourself against rejection and criticism with partners that can back you up. When the going gets tough, you need your supporters to get going.
Turn around what you think a brand can be.
The danger in becoming so fixated with all the new pipes is we forget about the communications we send down them. Spend too long looking at production and distribution efficiencies, and we lose sight of the bigger picture. What kind of ideas the world needs. And that’s a real missed opportunity.
People now think brands offer a better chance of changing the status quo than charities or governments. Our audience cares more about what we stand for than what we sell. But talk of bland corporate social responsibility or the odd spot of charitable giving won’t see you benefit from this shift.
Forget focussing on what you’ve done internally, look at what you could do in the wider world. Find your fight and start making change happen.
Feel uncomfortable about that? Don’t. Sat alongside the need for quarterly market share growth, it can be easy to relegate these issues to the bottom of the to-do list. But the sooner you do it the better.
Because doing good no longer means a round of Kumbaya with those on the fringes. It means acts that propel your brand into the popular culture. Into the memories of your consumers. And into the eternal gratitude of your shareholders.