By Patrick Donovan
Once, brand marketing was all about Brand Expression. We talked about Purpose. Positioning. Presentation. Packaging. Promotion. We measured Communication, Impact, Salience and Exposure. Then we all started to use words like Values, People, Behaviours, Environments, Narratives and Experiences. We recognised that we needed to work on what we are not just what we say.
And while we were changing our language, our customers simply stopped paying attention to us and started asking each other. Making up their own minds about our brands.
Our first reaction has been to try and drown them out with our paid-off bloggers and our viral advertising and our branded content – and they quite like some of it but still exclude us from their conversations. We need them to believe our stories and tell them to their friends. So we better make those stories compelling, useful and true. From now on, our focus better be on Advocacy – speaking with the voice of our customers.
Whether we are creating a new brand for an unexplored market sector in an unexploited region of the world, or simply strengthening, burnishing and rejuvenating a trusted brand in an existing market, we start with the stories that we would like our customers to be telling about us when we’re not there. We don’t think first what we’re going to say today. We think about what influential consumers, employees, business partners and the media are going to be saying about us in future.
We call this Advocacy Branding.