The explosion of available media resources over the past decade continues. And while it may be challenging at times to keep up, regular media outreach offers some very positive payoffs in terms of brand storytelling, brand continuity and brand lifespan.
Big media brands have used this tactic with great success. Hugely successful game franchises from Halo to Pokémon have capitalized on loyalty and users looking for unique experiences within a familiar framework.* [When my millennial children fell in love with Pokémon games and cards way back in 1999 or so, I never imagined they would still be (occasionally) playing Pokémon into their 20s.] Big media movies (sequels, sequels and more sequels) and music (digital and vinyl re-packaging of music from 1960’s and 1970’s artists) often follow a similar trajectory, while golden-era movie icons return to life in TV ads.
The Brand Plays On…
In terms of big brands, branding efforts are a long-term commitment and investment. The best of the big brands, from consumer foods like Oreos and Coca-Cola, to auto brands like Subaru, work their timelines backward and forward. Oreos and Coke focus occasionally on nostalgia ads, then move forward to focus on today’s consumers. The wonderful Carmichael Lynch ads for Subaru, “Love,” feature older cars (some with different-colored replacement panels) that have been “in the family” forever, then passed down and/or replaced with shiny new models.
Just as the ads focus on the complete brand timeline, marketers work to serve appropriate content on different media, from social media to television to print. But what about (comparatively) humble commercial, retail and B2B brands? There’s no reason smaller, niche brands can’t follow a similar trajectory… especially well-loved niche brands. The challenge is to focus on those elements that tell the brand story.
A long, rich history is branding gold. Use multiple media channels to illustrate what made the brand great. History might include the impetus for creating the brand, including where the idea originated. Historical photography lends appeal in terms of long service and stability. For example, catalog advertising for outdoor apparel brand Eddie Bauer (creator of the iconic B9 Bomber jacket for high altitude WWII pilots, and the inventor of the omnipresent channel-stitched down jacket) references Bauer’s wife Christine’s designs from the 1940s and 50s as the basis for current product lines.
Make sure you reach out in the right direction(s). Know who uses your brand… especially who is a big advocate of your brand. How and where did they find you? Is the brand readily available to those who want to purchase? And specifically: is your website functional and well designed?
Make good use of your brand advocates. Get testimonials, and feature them in your advertising if feasible. Do you know what attracted the people who currently follow and buy the brand? Who are they? Where do they “live” and what do they do?
Brands Love Locals
Again, those who love your brand can lead your brand to a longer, healthier life if you let them. In a world where chain restaurants and mass marketers seem to be in every neighborhood, many people make it a personal imperative to patronize local establishments, from farmers markets, to local restaurants and brew pubs, to local credit unions. Extend offers to local residents via newspapers, web and social media; be responsive to feedback, positive and negative. Build a local community you can use as a resource and research hub.
I Forgot to Remember to Forget…
Like the old Elvis tune, you want brand customers to forget to remember to forget the brand: stay in touch! There’s no excuse to neglect customer communications today, with so many methods at hand. Remember to check passive communications such as online reviews and discussions. Google your clients and brands regularly to check “what’s being said”… and not said. Today’s media channels flow both ways, so push and pull communications to keep the brand top of mind.
Commemorate Brand Success…
Make sure you use PR to reach out to brand users… especially when there are positive developments and changes on the horizon. And, as always, deal with problems quickly and decisively. Avoid brand crises by addressing product problems and/or customer issues effectively, and personally if at all possible.