Exploring the interplay of brand and engagement marketing

Over on Bubblegen Umair says “marketers are at the cusp of strategic reinvention” – as patterns of media consumption move online and into communities marketers need to find new ways to reach their audiences – this is driving the whole online advertising revolution part of which is the move to conversational or engagement marketing.

The immediate impact that brands are feeling is that it is tougher for them to get their messages across.  M&C Saatchi’s response to this is One Word Equity – of which more in a second. If you click on that link (worth doing just for the production values in the way they choose to put their message out there) then you will see they state the problem in the following way:

Neuroscience has shown the Digital Native brain is physically different.  It has re-wired itself.  It responds faster.  It edits ruthlessly.

and

Advertising recall is collapsing around the world.

Their response is the One Word Equity concept – collapse the brand to a single word, and own that word.  Overcomes the recall problem by making it dead simple, and it works brilliantly with search.  That’s the idea anyway.

To an extent I’m with Umair (and it was his post that linked me to the Saatchi site and stimulated this one) – the simple attraction of owning a word and simplifying everything is easy to understand and is a seemingly credible response to the challenges brand owners are facing – but it is not a sufficient response.  From bubblegen:

Brands don’t need to be reduced to single words.

Reducing and deconstructing themselves into nothingness is exactly the strategic opposite of what next-gen marketing really will be about. Rather, marketers must learn to embrace – and manage – the complexity that happens as interactions at the edges of firms phase shift from thousands to billions. This complexity live in things like conversations, memes, bubbles and crashes, viral effects, network pressures, etc.

I wouldn’t go as far as this.  There is no reason why a single word brand can’t use social media to embrace the complexity of edge interaction and have those all important conversations.  In most areas of business the pace of change is getting so fast that all the centre can do is set strategy and devolve power to the edge to execute.  I see this in the same way.  Simplifying the brand to a single word and some core values (and brands are little more than values at the end of the day) and then letting your local marketing teams engage in all the conversations they like could be the way to go.  Those conversations will inevitably be more about products anyway.

These are some emerging thoughts – there is a long way to go before we know what engagement marketing really means and how it works (and I am also playing with the idea that the notion of buzz will be important here, more of that in another post).  Your thoughts, as ever, would help me in my quest to understand this better.