6 June 2013 - 3:28pm | by Weber Shandwick Manchester

Brand Manchester: pulling at the heartstrings to engage customers

Brand Manchester: pulling at the heartstrings to engage customersBrand Manchester: pulling at the heartstrings to engage customers

Storytelling lies at the heart of modern marketing and Manchester knows a thing or two about that.

Cradle of the Industrial Revolution, where Rolls met Royce home to a couple of football teams you may have heard of. Manchester. Famous for its swagger, gritty music and gruff no-nonsense attitude, a city with a million stories – every one compelling and a testament to how this vibrant metropolis came to be.

If you’re looking for civic pride, Manchester has it in spades. Dubbed the ‘Original Modern’ by local record designer Peter Saville, its citizens are passionate about their roots and fiercely protective of its cultural heritage.

When it comes to promoting a brand in the modern world, the emotional connection to their city so prevalent among Mancunians offers a perfect example of how to get your message heard.

We love stories. Always have, always will.

The ultimate engagement activity.

And when we hear good stories, we share them.

So it is with marketing in an age of noise and too much information. Marketers understand that stories drive message, and to establish an emotional connection with their audience gives them the edge. Calls to action have their place. But consumers want to feel, to engage through laughing, crying, shock or just awe.

The best creative work achieves this. It allows audiences to feel beyond the norm. It creates things that demand and inspire advocacy. Things the audience can put themselves at the centre of, losing themselves within its magic for however long it can last. Emotional immersion. The suspension of reality. It’s something that marketers need to do more of.

Walk through Piccadilly Gardens or along Deansgate and you’ll see ‘Brand Manchester’ oozing from every pore. Everything from billboards to buses is plastered with Manchester iconographies such as Coronation Street, Lowry and the Smiths. And you’re never far from the emblem famous throughout the world – Manchester United, these days as much a branded product in its own right as a football club. Its success is down to the emotional connection it has with its fans – stories of sweet victory snatched from defeat in the closing moments of a game, the rise and fall of its handsomely-paid stars and, recently, the retirement of the most successful manager of all time – Sir Alex Ferguson. All stories that appeal even to those with little interest in football.

Other Manchester brands incorporate associations with their city as part of strategy. Bench has the Manchester skyline embroidered across many of its designs, while the Manchester International Festival has ridden on the back of the city’s reputation for originality and creativity, and now attracts big names from across the globe.

At Weber Shandwick, we call it ‘Content Fusion’ – the way different content sharing conversations take place. We look at how a brand tells a unique story about its history, its news or its people. Then we look at how the message can be syndicated through blog posts, emails, tweets and how that conversation jumps into the wider world via newswires, magazine articles and online exchanges between consumers. If we get it right, these conversations feed right back to the heart of the company and become a story in themselves.

We’ve run a number of brand campaigns that pull at the emotional heartstrings to engage customers.

And we’ve won awards on the back of them.

We ran a campaign for Valentine’s Day called ‘Love Aldi?’ Customers were asked to post on Aldi’s various social media sites about why they love shopping there in exchange for a chance to appear on one of their leaflets.

The Cussons ‘Mum & Me’ campaign focussed on modern mums who grew up with ‘Girl Power’, using social media to connect with their desire to feel empowered as they approach the daunting but exciting prospect of motherhood.

It’s time to stop thinking functionally and demographically and start thinking about the human emotions you want to elicit. Help customers to see a brand as an outlet through which they can express those feelings. Create, produce and distribute ideas. Interact with your audiences’ emotions. Then watch the views, comments, likes and shares roll in.

It’s what we do in Manchester. It’s what makes us the original modern.

Jo Leah
Managing Director
Weber Shandwick

Tel: 0161 238 9400
Email: jleah@webershandwick.com
Web: www.webershandwick.co.uk

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