The real alchemy of doing things right in a connected and social marketplace may in fact be  more art than science. That may frustrate the bean counters and process people but a harsh reality exists that replicating what the other guys are doing just 10% better is not a formula for success in the 2011 economy. People don’t talk about average stuff.

The Japanese idea of kaizen – roughly translated as continuous improvement may still be great in a number of business operations but in the world of “must be awesome” Twitter, “must be sociable” Facebook and “must be entertaining” YouTube, being merely good, improved or slightly better gets you largely ignored. And who wants that?

Y&R evaluated 50 attributes as part of their brand asset evaluator and sure enough, the traits that make business and brand valuable and desirable are much different than the stuff that drives differentiation and gets talked about.

We looked at the top 8 traits that make a brand valuable:

1. High Quality
2. Trustworthy
3. Good Value
4. Reliable
5. Original
6. Simple
7. Fun
8. Leader
Noble virtues indeed, but unfortunately in a lot of industries, these traits are mere “price of admission” stuff. Worse still, they are tough to prove a difference versus your competition with customers that implicitly don’t trust you, don’t spend time or attention with you nearly like they used to. Trust me, as a former brand manager of North America’s largest detergent brand, we tried our best to magnify a small performance difference into a massive brand advantage. Easy back in the day when the customer was a little less informed and a lot less activist, much tougher now.
Sure enough, in terms of differentiation, these above factors, that often can be found populating business vision statements,  average a rank of 28 (out of 50). Not very talkbale, retweetable or repostable.
On the contrary the traits, you do want to leverage in a today’s attention-starved and word of mouth-driven economy are the top 8 brand differentiating traits:
1. Unique
2. Dynamic
3. Different
4. Distinctive
5. Innovative
6. Visionary
7. Daring
8. Progressive
These are the traits that when married to a brand’s DNA or initiative overcome our filters.You want to have your brand, your content, your tone and your programs described with the above set of adjectives.
Just consider the recent 2011 Super Bowl ad frenzy and the “most liked on Facebook spots” – three Doritos spots (unique in that they were all great and perhaps not surprisingly customer-generated), a Volkswagen ad with a kid Darth Vader (great story telling and now sitting at 23MM views), Bud Light with dogs (who doesn’t love dogs with personality), Bridgestone with a Beaver (interesting twist) and Pepsi Max Love Hurts (playing up on real wife/hot girl jealousy). They were so different, so entertaining and so escapist, we wanted to share them with others.
Look at the ads further down the list and you realize, that heavy handedness, poor humour and plain dumb understanding of your Super Bowl watcher, led to $3 million being blown down the drain by the sponsors.
So unfortunately for the people who would love to boil clever and effective marketing in a contemporary world as a neat repeatable and replicable  algorithm, it defies some measure of logic. Very frustrating, particularly given that customer expectations and technology is moving so fast that even when you have something good, poof – it’s gone again.
As safe as a bet I can give you, I will distill communications success in an amped up social universe down to one Wikibrand guideline “give what your customer wants simply, cleverly and differently than they expected.”
That is half the value of great marketing in today’s muddled environment. And my bets are pretty good, I guessed Green Bay 28- Pittsburgh 20.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This