Once Upon a Time, In Brand Land

A colleague recently forwarded me a very interesting opinion piece about the shift from the “big idea” delivered via traditional advertising, to the increasing relevance of brand storytelling across multiple channels (link provided below).

It’s clear that the game is changing in terms of how we engage with an audience over a period of time. We’ve all seen how a big idea can sometimes flop, and subsequently a brand changing its strategy and abandoning the original big idea completely. Looking to entertainment, TV series hits such as Game of Thrones are bringing in around 5 million viewers per episode, overtaking movie releases in terms of viewership. Customers want to engage with a story over time. They want to see the sequels, the behind-the-scenes-making-of, and the game app where they can interact with the characters.

Customers now engage with a brand on their terms.

The adage “call to action” has less relevance, particularly within digital platforms. In the creative process we talk about how we want customers to respond to a message and what action we want them to take. However it’s now virtually impossible to control how and when a customer will engage given the number of channels they interact with on any given day. The smarter strategy is to provide multiple platforms for engagement, while actively listening to customers and providing relevant and shareable content.

Brands are increasingly turning to digital to tell their story.

10 months ago, I made the transition from a more traditional advertising background to work at Deepend, a strategically led digital agency. At the time, I saw the opportunity as the chance to immerse myself in the discipline of digital advertising, grow my expertise and ‘bridge the gap’ between traditional and digital advertising (dare I say above-the-line and below-the-line disciplines). What I didn’t fully appreciate was that digital is not merely another channel within the marketing mix. As Bradley Moore explains, the future for brands lies within the art of storytelling and building campaigns over time, and digital is at the very heart of this.

What’s relevant right now is content, but delivered in a way that provides a narrative to a story told over time.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The same is true about digital content. You can put it out there in all the right places, but consumers won’t necessarily engage. Engagement is about delivering a series of messages over time – not merely a big idea. The idea needs to continue to unravel and evolve, and customers need to be part of that journey.

Content can no longer be delivered to individuals in a controlled manner. The content needs to be out there, available and accessible for consumers to interact with when it’s relevant to them.

For further reading, see Bradley Moore’s article ‘The big idea is dead, long live the long idea’.

Leave a Comment