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Building Strong Brand Tribes (Inspired by Presenters at SXSW)

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP   I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in   YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development.   The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit. While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory. One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?” By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Play All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world. In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally. Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers.   During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work. This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers. _________   Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling” Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making. He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.” If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.

Just For Men Launches Be The Better Man Campaign

What do you do if you’re the original men’s grooming brand and want to encourage men everywhere to be – and look – a little better? You step in front of the mirror and give yourself a makeover.   That’s what AMP Agency and Just For Men accomplished together with this week’s launch of the Be The Better Man brand platform and campaign.     For more than 30 years, Just For Men has been letting guys know it’s not only OK to care about their appearance, but to do something about it. And over the decades, Just For Men has been innovating and refining hair care solutions that make it easy for men to achieve the natural look that lets them feel their best. And as their portfolio has expanded to include beard care and hair regrowth (and more to come), it was time to reinforce the brand’s leadership role in the men’s grooming conversation it started in 1987.   Be The Better Man stems from the idea that it takes a good man to know he can always be a little better. The notion applies to both their daily grooming routine and the way they go about their lives. We are calling on guys everywhere to take the small steps needed to look their best—and do the little things that make the lives of those around them, well, better.   The campaign launched on CBS NFL Game Day this past Sunday. With the broadcast buy comes a fully integrated brand push. It started with a re-imagined website, email and social channels and will continue with an omni-channel paid media campaign within outdoor and digital. We’ll be on TV screens and in locker rooms at the hottest gyms in our key markets. Digital will focus on partnering with the web’s leading experts on grooming (GQ), dating (Match), business travel (Conde Nast Traveller), and parenting (Fatherly) through custom content and ambassador/influencer programs to reinforce the message of being better in all aspects of life. We’ll ultimately push product via direct-to-consumer tactics within programmatic and social channels through efficient reach and continuous frequency in the Better Man messaging against our male audience.   Check out the following coverage to learn more about the campaign: Ad Age MarketWatch Marketing Dive  Marketing Communications News  

Here's What Makes Disney The Most 'Intimate' Brand For Millennials

If you want to see how much media factors into the lives of millennials, look no further than the latest Brand Intimacy Report. This year, 93-year-old Disney tops the list and rounding out the top five were media brands Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Nintendo. Disney resonates with this age group because they grew up with the brand and it has kept up with their changing interests - it now includes popular franchises like Star Wars and Marvel.   Ariana Grande isn’t the only millennial with a crush on Mickey.

Why the Executive Suite Must Be Involved in Brand Name Development

Companies often under-value the power of a brand name. While they look at some brand names and say “Wow,” they don’t necessarily understand or appreciate the investment of time, strategic thinking, and creativity necessary to create these brand names. Every year hundreds of brand name projects are delegated to junior employees. But, when naming is driven by leadership, the results are exponentially higher because the CEO has the necessary oversight to see how and where to direct the product, service, or company.   Don’t pass the buck.

How the Beauty Industry Became a Leading Voice for Social Activism

Sephora isn’t the first retailer to recognize the value in identifying its larger purpose and become more involved in the community it caters to as a force for good. Activism has infiltrated brand campaigns from Dove, Cheerios, Pantene and Patagonia have attached their names to messages of body positivity, LGBT acceptance, female empowerment in the workplace and sustainability, respectively. Countering brand apathy

J.Crew, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch: The Trouble With America’s Most Beloved Mall Brands

Despite efforts to turn their businesses around, J.Crew, Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch have yet to dig out of quarter after quarter of negative sales slumps because too many factors — declining mall foot traffic, the threat of Amazon, lengthy supply chains and price-conscious shoppers — have converged, rendering the situation untenable. And time is running out. A lack of compelling brand identity

SoulCycle, Casper and Drybar Execs Reveal The Secrets to Their Cult Brand’s Success

Leaders from three of the most dynamic emerging cult brands—spin-class exercise chain SoulCycle, salon startup Drybar, and mattress-business disrupter Casper —discuss how they think about their customers, their businesses, their competition, and their culture.   Inspiring passion  

As Live Streaming Booms, More Brands Seek Camera-Ready Staff

Brands have enthusiastically embraced live streaming — but not every brand comes camera-ready. Those looking to get started find themselves needing to beg, borrow or hire on-screen talent first. While some companies have tapped TV personalities to host their broadcasts, others are asking their employees to do it themselves – because audiences want to see real faces and build a connection with the people at a brand.   Lights, Camera, Action!

Happy Brands Will Always Win in 2017

2016 has delivered a series of political and social curveballs and that’s why ads like John Lewis’ Buster the Boxer have been so warmly received. We’ve seen a distinct shift from the 'sadvertising' of 2015 to this year’s positive campaigns. Featuring a little girl and her pet dog, and following criticism that last year’s ad was too much of a tearjerker, the ad capitalizes on the happiness, comfort and fantasy that is traditionally associated with Christmas. Spread the cheer.

  • December 15, 2016

Formerly Hot Brands Lose Relevance – Brand Relevance Index Update 2016

Scott Davis, Partner and Chief Growth Officer at Prophet, speaks about what trends, changes, and challenges the latest Brand Relevance Index reveals– and which brands from a relevance standpoint are on top and which are not. Technology takes the top.

  • December 13, 2016

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