The Future is De-Branding
Prepare for the era of the minimalist brand. Less really WILL BE more. Quality WILL count. Truth is, it already does. The “new” strategy? Just produce a better product, don’t pay for a pretty ad. The product IS the ad. Or, it should be.
(Courtesy: The DieLine: http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2015/7/8/coca-cola-presents-the-first-ever-no-labels-cans)
It’s the opinion of several progressive ad industry observers and critics, defined in a recent FastCoDesign article (http://www.fastcodesign.com/3060658/the-future-of-branding-is-debranding) and many others.
No more hiding behind a flashy logo, funny commercial or a sexy jingle. Reality and transparency are the twin coins of the new realm. Prepare yourself, cola-venders. Selling sugar water is no longer good enough.
Ever go to a movie that doesn’t quite live up to the trailer? It’s a let-down when you get half-way through the film and realize it’s not what you expected. You’re tempted to walk out, right?
(Courtesy: vamers.com: http://vamers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Vamers-FYI-Movies-Jar-Jar-Binks-was-Meant-to-Die-in-The-Phantom-Menace-Jar-Jar-Binks-with-Obi-Wan-and-Qui-Gon-Jin.jpg)
It’s the same thing for consumers who buy a product that doesn’t quite have the sizzle that the commercial implied. There was a brand promise broken, in the mind of that consumer. She’s disappointed. And today (unlike ten years ago), she will likely talk about the let-down on Yelp, or a preferred social media platform, and the product earns a dubious label of false, fake or flimsy. Her friends and family will take note – the brand takes a hit and so does the company’s bottom line. Ouch.
Even in the trending world of content marketing and “native content”, the risk is the same. Progressive brands have, in the last decade, often adopted strategies to create seemingly-objective content that mimics the media platform in which it is placed, offering a subtle brand message, akin to ‘stealth’ advertising. But listen up, folks, customers are wising up. Word gets out and your brand can easily appear to be covert and deceitful, instead of cool and clear.
So, a definition. De-Branding in 2016 is MORE than just removing or reducing a label or logo. It’s a de-emphasis of the superficial, even duplicitous brand message, in order to focus more time, resources and intent on PRODUCING the best possible resource for your client. And then allowing word of mouth and the contagious magic of social media do your brand growth work.
BE the product or service that MATTERS to your customer.
Or, as Ghandi (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/24499-be-the-change-that-you-wish-to-see-in-the) said, “Be the change!”
Which prompts the question – do you KNOW your client well enough to know what matters to her?
- Does she care about convenience? Then make the purchase easier.
- Does she care about transparency? Then get rid of the lawyer language on your website, in your invoices and on all public-facing documents. Speak clearly and simply.
- Does she care about your carbon footprint? Then reduce it.
- Do healthy ingredients matter? Then cut the indecipherable list of chemicals and additives.
- Does durability matter? Then make your products last longer.
- Does she want to buy products that are made in the US? Then manufacture here.
- Does your corporate & civic responsibility matter to her? Then do more to be a good corporate citizen. Find a worthy cause and support it.
Companies large and small are beginning to gravitate toward this concept. Starbucks (http://www.starbucks.com/), for example, has become a textbook model for adopting causes that matter to many of its ardent addicts. Cause Marketing 101. With Ethos water, the coffee giant donates 5 cents from the sale of each bottle to help clean up the world’s water supply. On World Aids day, Starbucks donates 5 cents from every sale to help raise awareness and prevention of HIV & AIDS in Africa.
Granted, one could argue that a brand as enormous at Starbucks doesn’t have to worry about brand visibility, so ‘de-branding’ is a luxury the company can easily afford. So here’s another, smaller example: Bexar Goods, Inc. (http://www.bexargoods.com/)
It’s a young leather goods company in San Antonio that touts the fact that its limited supply of products are all hand-made using U.S. sourced materials, including the leather, waxed canvas, solid copper rivets and brass hardware. High quality, hand-made, durable, local. Simple.
In addition, the company emphasizes customer service. Emails are returned within a few hours, at most.
It’s not a giant company, but it’s a good one. No flashy commercials. No jingle. No crap.
De-branded and perfectly aligned for the next era of media & marketing success.