What we have to say on effective marketing.

Carol Avenant
The power of the three C's

Carol Avenant tells us why the fact that the world of branding has changed is no longer new news.

As marketers we understand that what it takes to build a successful brand today, and in the future, is a very different thinking, doing and acting than it took in the era of the 60' hero TV commercial. We hear and read about brands needing to have conversations with consumers, we experience how power is shifting from business and brands to consumers as they become shapers of our strategies. We are told that we need to adapt our approach from linear, rational brand relationships to multifaceted, integrated emotional connections. We are warned that if we want to stay relevant we need to evolve from pushing communications out loudly to inviting well considered dialogues. But where do you start? What do you do first? Which is more important to get right?

In a recent study done by Yellowwood, they announced the top 10 engaging brands in South Africa. The brands' engagement scores were determined by how well they performed in nine key pillars that incorporate rational, emotional and social building blocks, all critical to modern day engagement. The importance of performing well in all nine pillars is vital to forging deeper relationships with consumers, as that has been proven to lead to stronger brand advocacy, sales and loyalty. Interesting to note however, was that the top 10 brands have three pillars in common which have helped them achieve top spots. These are:

1. Conviction

Nine out of the top 10 brands scored highest in conviction. In the EngagerTM study, conviction is defined as the strength of a consumers' predisposition to stick to a brand. It's the extent to which consumers will go out of their way to purchase or use the brand. A brand that really gets it right is Woolworths. Woolworths' product quality, helpful service, range of solutions, meal-for-four under a R100 and reward cards are all translating in consumers being willing to travel a little further to shop at their local Woollies. 'The difference' is a compelling proposition that they deliver consistently every day. To ensure your brand scores well in conviction, some questions to ask yourself are: what about my brand/product/service will make consumers go out of their way to use and choose me? How unique is this stickiness? Are my distinctive benefits still relevant to consumers today?

2. Commitment

Seven out of the top 10 brands have commitment in their top three scores. According to EngagerTM commitment is the brands' competitive advantage within its consideration set. Handy Andy enjoys strong commitment levels from the South African consumer. The brand has helped keep homes clean and smelling fresh for generations. Handy Andy's consistent delivery on its promise of maximum cleaning, minimum effort has helped it gain traction and strong commitment over the years. Its handy tips and videos on their mobi site are easily accessible and show users how a simple cleaning product can change lives, restore homes and give treasured items a new lease on life. Brands need to understand which barriers to raise in order to protect brand equity, and where to focus efforts to grow even stronger. Brands should also look for opportunities to entrench and communicate their advantages in ways that are relevant and accessible to their target market.

3. Connection

Five out of the top 10 brands have connection in their top three scores. From the EngagerTM study, connection demonstrates the emotional relevance consumers feel towards your brand. A brand not in the top 10, but that enjoys a high connection score, is Omo. Omo connects mothers all over the country over the shared experience of children running amok. Their 'dirt is good' campaign demonstrates the love parents feel for their children; that they all want them to learn and play and shouldn't have to worry about cleaning the dirt afterwards. Omo also caters to those consumers not able to afford a washing machine or privileged enough to have access to running hot water. The brand delivers, under all conditions. To tip the scale even further, the brands' involvement in the community - awarding over R10 million worth of bursaries to South African pupils - shows it's a brand that truly cares about others, providing generosity to a real societal need. So ask yourself: does your brand have the ability to turn emotional connections into meaningful relationships? Is your brand demonstrating that it cares about its consumers and society? Does your brand drive preference, over and above functional delivery?

To engage with consumers at all levels requires a brand to succeed in all nine pillars. The other pillars as identified by EngagerTM are sensing, knowledge, understanding, integrity, participation and advocacy. It is hard work, but the rewards are real. Data from the Forbes Top 2000 company database shows a clear connection between brands that enjoy strong engagement levels and above average business performance.

In a rapidly changing world, you need to make sure that your brand occupies a special place inside the cluttered mind and hearts of consumers, as well as outside in the fresh air where the consumer lives. Allow me to adapt a famous saying slightly; "Any brand can catch your eye, but it takes a special brand to catch your heart".

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