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27. December 2017

published by
Eduard Böhler

And what now?

Thoughts about communication in the Now.

We are all well aware that classic media-usage behavior has long since come crashing down. But do we also know how to truly reach people today – and not just pursue them?

In the midst of puberty

Our daily dealings with the countless new opportunities, though also the misleading distractions of digital communication have brought us to the conviction that we are still smack-dab in the middle of digital puberty. And that clear strategic principles are needed in order to manage brands in the digital age. We have dubbed our considerations “Thoughts about communication in the Now”.

Have fun reading – passionate agreement or furious rejection welcome!

Nowadays, when everything and everyone gets publicity, there is no longer such a thing as “publicness”.

Because media consumption is becoming more and more fragmented, a shared media- and thus brand experience simply gets lost. At least in its earlier form when, by 8:15 pm at the latest, everyone was gathered around the television set. For strong brands, however, it is vital to reach people, not only segmentally, but also collectively. You are only important if you are on the tip of everyone’s tongue – even if that’s the tongue of someone who may never buy your product. That said, brands today must create broad public awareness through a skillful combination of paid, owned and earned media. If they succeed, they become a strong identity-shaping link between people.

Digital and classic are rivals that need one another.

Exuberant missionary zeal proclaimed the battle between digital and classic. However, one can’t succeed without the other. Even the biggest digital companies have recognized that their branding can’t be purely digital, and so they invest massively in classic advertising. On the other hand, well-established and classically managed brands optimize sales success through the precise targeting that is possible in the digital sector. Ultimately, the decisive factor is that both worlds must work hand-in-hand perfectly on behalf of the brand. Ideally, with exceptional ideas that are so good, they receive unpaid media space both in digital as well as classic channels.

Because truth is harder to establish than ever,
brand truth is growing in importance.

The dominant information providers and opinion shapers of the past are losing importance and being replaced by a free, untamed flow of content, posts and Tweets. Because people no longer know where it comes from, nor what is or is not true, people long for orientation and a sure footing. Which is now the opportunity for brands to fulfil this function. A relevant, authentic brand personality, product- and corporate credibility, and a living commitment to sustainability will be decisive factors when competing in the future.

If people don’t willingly open their door to us,
should we kick it in?

Of course, today we are able to harness new technologies to reach people even in the most remote corners of their world with our performance-optimized messages. Or better still: pursue them. That said, no one wants to spend their life in a marketing cloud. However, many algorithms are only fully satisfied when that happens. Rather, what brands truly need is a balance of push and pull, so as to be perceived as an attractive means to improve one’s own life – not as some kind of wedge. Two things are needed to achieve that: 1. Exciting branding ideas that touch people emotionally and thereby create appeal, and 2. Sales messages with an intensity that people are happy to accept.

If a measure doesn’t make sense,
whether it’s measurable.

There were indeed simpler times for brand managers. Finding the perfectly orchestrated mix of paid, owned and earned media is a tough task for many. Especially when budgets are getting ever tighter, and you constantly have to justify how money is being used. That’s why, as a brand manager, the temptations to rely increasingly on measurable strategies is great. However, measurability cannot be allowed to become the main criterion. Meaningfulness is decisive. And not every step that makes sense for a brand is also measurable. Professional brand managers know this, yet still measure: though using precisely applied campaign monitoring.

When individual classic channels lose relevance,
it isn’t only the digital ones that profit from it.

Whereas billboards – the oldest medium in the world – are experiencing a renaissance, print and linear TV are losing out in favor of digital. This leads to changes in marketing models, most of which lie in the digital realm. And makes one particular media format almost unrivaled: Live events, such as sports, still manage to get the masses to gather in front of the TV screen simultaneously. The brands with a presence here have a chance to profile themselves in a highly emotionally charged setting. And in general, do so as an exclusive representative of their business sector. As a consequence, partnerships with personalities and major events, though also in fields such as eSports, will grow massively in importance.