It's difficult, but everyone wants to do it: becoming a lovebrand sounds easy, but simply conveying the right mood is no longer enough in the digital age.
"Settle into the team and love what you do," says t3n Marketing Director Andy Lenz. That doesn't sound so hard. But it takes more to build up a brand that not only has love going into it, but is also loved by customers. What is the secret of a lovebrand? What ingredients are needed to turn users into admirers?
What is certain is that some brands are more loved than others – according to a 2014 study, for example, Coca Cola, Haribo, Ferrero, Nivea and Samsung, as well as Apple, Sony and Amazon. And factors such as music play an important role in whether or not we perceive a brand as emotional and sympathetic. "Whether or not we remember a brand also depends on having the right sound," says a further conclusion of the study.
Today it seems easier than ever before for brands to use marketing tools to become a lovebrand. Marketers have never known more about their target groups, it has never been easier to deliver specific messages to specific targets, or to reach users in ever more personal moments. Music streaming service Spotify has been increasingly experimenting in this area, as Managing Director Stefan Zilch explains: "Context targeting," for example, is what Spotify calls the possibility of inserting advertising based on the mood or activity of the user as indicated by their music selection. More than two billion playlists saved worldwide, created for running, yoga or driving, for example, provide an interesting playing field for marketing .
The issue of brand building also plays an important role for Spotify itself, although the company continues to perceive itself as primarily a tech company and its marketing approach is entirely product-centered. Examples such as the integration of the Spotify service into the Uber app, which enables Uber users to hear their personal playlists as they climb into their ride, or collaborations with events such as the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, seek above all to enhance the user's comfort and convenience.
For advertising clients, services such as Spotify represent a market with growing potential. With the right targeting, it is possible to play not just individual spots at different times across different devices, but even to create personal storytelling campaigns. However, what services like Pandora have been doing for awhile already in the USA, is only slowly gaining ground in Germany and Europe – the advertising industry is responding with caution, as the wrong message in the wrong context can cause a great deal of harm. And such complex marketing also requires its own formats and production processes – which first have to be developed.
Trends such as these show that today a whole arsenal of above all technical tricks and gadgets are needed to perfect brand building. This is particularly challenging for companies that are still in the middle of digitization – or have not even begun yet. The process involves huge demands: employees must be trained, processes converted, marketing and sales automated – and the brand must ultimately include a digital experience. So how can this be achieved?
"Brands today can no longer simply stand back and send out their messages," says Graham Moysey of AOL. "They need to participate in the conversations taking place all around. They must take risks. For example at Huffington Post we decided not to report on Donald Trump in the Politics section, but in Entertainment – because he's a tremendous entertainer! It wasn't an easy decision, but I think our readers love us for it."
Expectations of potential customers and users are also on the rise. Brands must be experienced, accessible and authentic – one-way communication from company to consumer is no longer anywhere near enough. But what does authentic brand building look like in the digital era? What role do research and Big Data play? And how can these often very theoretical fields work in harmony with the core element of all good marketing: creativity?
Lars Bo Jeppesen of Dentsu Aegis gives the example of Procter & Gamble, which sponsored the Olympic Games. "Does that really correspond to their products' target group? No, and that's why they came up with the 'Proud sponsors of Mums' campaign, which worked. This is why it's so important for brand building to be based on insights." Here too, data is the key.
Alexander Schill of Serviceplan sees a further challenge:
"Brands shouldn't try to do better marketing, they should try to become better brands. For users to have valuable experiences, brands must have an influence on their daily lives, they must help them become better people and have an impact on their behavior. When that happens, it reflects back on the brand."
But to convince the decision-makers who are not yet ready to take new path, marketers must also be authentic. "Nothing inspires more trust than authenticity." That is nothing new – but when you look at what is happening now and in the future in this field, it bears repeating over and over.