Why ‘thinking human’ is the key to driving long-term brand growth

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The world is changing fast. Negotiating the pace of change is harder than ever and never has more been at stake. Extinction is an increasing threat for brands that are slow to evolve. But long-term business growth is there for the taking if organisations stop living in the past.

Media Bounty’s inaugural panel discussion event, ‘Thinking Human – Driving Long Term Brand Growth’, brought together key industry thinkers to explore the future for brands. Based on the presentations of the panellists, it seems that successful corporate evolution in this ever-changing world now depends on four key factors:

Think long-term, not short-term

Technology is changing at breathtaking speed. Carbon-neutral fuels, 3D printed drugs, the ‘Enernet’, driverless cars, and Blockchain technology are all on the cusp of changing the world as we know it. But according to Atlas of the Future’s Mark Stevenson: “The gap between how we run our organisations and what’s happening in technology is now getting so disparate that everything’s falling apart.”

Future literacy is poor in many organisations and brands need to consider the impact of these innovations if they are to survive. The hurdle is often that leaders and key decision makers are over the age of 45 and find it difficult to come to terms with new tech.

If organisations fail to change though, Mark has a warning for them: “Darwinism applies to corporates too.” Consider Blockbuster passing up the opportunity to buy Netflix – a digital business where there were no late return fees was at odds with their business model.

Communicate with citizens not consumers

Institutions and brands are increasingly out of pace with real human change. People are increasingly seeing themselves as active citizens not passive consumers. Consumers, and workers, are increasingly disengaged because corporate organisations don’t value equality and ethics.

For brands, the future is undoubtedly human – they will engage citizens and attract the best talent. Leaders and organisations need to be philanthropists, showing they care about ethical and environmental causes. Brands that aim to maximise citizenship over short-term profits will succeed.

Burst the brand bubble

A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is; it is what consumers tell each other it is.

It’s not about you or what you’re trying to sell – that’s “a dead way of thinking”, according to Media Bounty’s strategy and planning director Sarah McManus – instead it’s about the consumers.

The good news is that social media is your largest 24/7 live focus group, especially for big brands. Use the data and insight to see what people really want.

Bodyform’s Live Fearless campaign put consumers centre-stage and invited women to share what the brand meant to them. The result of handing the reins to the consumer was a 4.7/5 approval rating (reminding consumers just how good the product is), uplifts in IPSOS brand health figures and highest ever volume and value sales.

“By taking a listening first approach, we can truly say that those who use our brand are the ones that build it,” said Media Bounty’s senior account director, Abi Terry.

Understand the environment

Brands grow by being mentally and physically available.

For brands to be mentally available it’s critical to keep pace with what consumers are demanding from the platforms. Think about how to tell stories differently on mobile, because people are scrolling through newsfeeds. It’s not only designing content for sound off and reframing the story from horizontal to vertical; you need to understand that over 55s scroll 2.5x slower than someone under 25. And mobile video storytelling decays over time if the video is too long – be fresh and interesting to earn attention early.

In terms of physical availability, a surprising 84% of retail sales still happen in the physical world.

But Ed Couchman, director of agency partnerships at Facebook, is confident there are effective ways of closing that social to physical purchase journey, by using mobile location services through social to drive footfall to store, and using a feed to ensure consumers are directed to locations where products are in stock.

Jake Dubbins is managing director of Media Bounty

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