Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is a brand about messages or experiences?

Fly the friendly skies.
We try harder.
That was easy.
Built Ford tough.

These are tag lies. United skies aren't friendly. Avis doesn't try. Nothing is easy at Staples. And Fords are rattle-traps. This is not an indictment of inflated taglines. It is an indictment of the "push a message at the consumer" advertising methodology. A soviet-style marketing schema where a message repeated repeated and repeated becomes believed.

Today I went to a "Times Talk." A moderated panel discussion sponsored by The New York Times that seeks to involve its customers in the Times brand. In other words, don't just tell me "These times demand The Times," involve me in it--give me a New York Times experience. I realize only an esoteric few avail themselves of the Times talks--perhaps not many people find Feist or Josh Brolin, of Sidney Lumet or Mel Brooks or Edward Albee or any number of brilliant speakers compelling enough. But the 400 seat auditorium I sat in this afternoon was 95% full and the line going in to the following event was positively Disney-esque. I am an inveterate Times reader, I love the brand; I advocate for it. I feel even deeper affinity for it after this afternoon's event. Now, what the Times needs to do is figure out a way to extend the influence and tactile-ness of a live brand experience and scale it.

More on this will follow. The future belongs to those brands that make you feel.

1 comment:

T said...

the problem with most companies that have reached a certain scale, a certain size, is that they simply can't handle what they built their original success on.
Nobody is competent lead these giant companies to perform the way they promise.
It's a bit like the soviet union.
there's a certain size of any organization where things simply don't work anymore.
so they look to slogans (and their agencies) to try to make sales.
At the end of the day most of those companies rely on people to provide the services.
These people are lousily paid, badly trained, most have a bad attitude, are incompetent, and totally disinterested in doing the job well. Understandably to some degree.
Likewise are the leaders of these giants totally incompetent to lead them properly.
When a unit performs badly the knee-jerk reaction is to look for things to save on, rather than things to improve. The result is fewer people with even lower salaries. This, on paper generates higher margins. And so the downward spiral is perpetuated.
Same goes for most product.s This year's new model is rarely anything else than a version built even cheaper than last year's model. And so it goes.