Marketing World Unanimously Disagrees!

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Photo of Eric Hyman

Everything's Changing Except What's Not

Witness the power of a good, or at least perplexing, headline! If mine is puzzling, read on, friends! I promise to (try and) explain it more succinctly.

In a recent study published in conjunction with Fast Company, marketers and agency types reveal things about the state of the business today that are both surprising, and not so surprising, all at the same time.

The study, Branding Forward, delves deep into views of people like you and me. Here’s what caught my attention. Asked about the nature of change in our business, 58% said we’re in a time of drastic change, while 42% said the fundamentals haven’t changed at all. That’s pretty polarized.

58%: We're in a time of revolutionary change when it comes to how powerful brands are created. 42: While there may be more tools than ever, the fundamentals haven't changed at all.

My take? Everyone is right. When it comes to how we deliver the message, everything HAS, or at least IS, changing. But the fundamentals – that the message must always be relevant, and credible – have not. So I think it is more an issue of semantics. Unless you survey people living under a rock, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone still employed in our business who is not astounded by the pace of change. It’s just that some of us purists know that deep down, the need to craft a terrific message hasn’t changed a bit.

That said; while consistency is still important, these days, the way we deliver the message need not be the same. So say 73% of participants who believe the days of consistency are over. Wow! Thank you Geico Gecko. You too, Flo! And Cavemen, you rock, as well!

27%: It's critical to ensure all of a brand's messages are strategically consistent. 73%: The days of strategic consistency are over, it's all about insiration and engagement.

Here is a true shocker. 52% of us don’t believe the research! OK, let me qualify that. They don’t believe that research is the only way to make marketing decisions anymore. This brings to mind the famous Steve Jobs’ quote refuting research about how customers don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

48%: Believe research is the only way to make tough marketing decisions. 52%: Believe research has serious limitations when it comes to tough marketing decisions.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in research as much as the next guy. But as you can see, the next guy only believes in it half the time. So the point is, sometimes the research will tell you what you need and sometimes you have to use your educated gut instinct. But I guess we are on our own figuring out which time is which.

Which brings us to the final point. There is an inherent need to surround yourself with people, and partners, who possess both great insight into research, and who instinctively understand what is happening all around them right now. People who can analyze where the ball is; and who can help you collectively make a good intuitive call on where it’s going next. That, to me, is a good way to explain this last finding; where nearly 75% of the audience reported that marketers need to open up brand thinking to incorporate views from people outside of marketing.

28%: Now more than ever the core of brand thinking needs to reside with marketing. 72%: Brand thinking must be opened up to the entire organization.

That doesn’t mean you need to crowdsource your next social campaign from people on the plant floor. But it does mean that brands are bigger than any one of us. One thing is certain, now more than ever, there is a lot that goes into building a great brand. And great integrated brand thinking requires diverse thinking.

At least that’s what we think at The Partnership. How about you? Let us know. Like I said at the start, I’m sure we’ll agree on things. At least half the time.

And do check out Branding Forward, definitely worth the download.