In a world where advances in technology have allowed us to become more connected than we have ever been; society finds itself in a position where we are beginning to lose the amount of real interaction we have with each other, and instead we opt to connect with each other digitally through social media. This means that the manner in which brands go about communicating with their consumers has also had to adapt and evolve with the times in order to stay relevant. Over the past few years, brands have had to rethink their communications campaign strategies and the channels of communication they utilise to engage with their consumers.
In the past
We come out of a time where mass media communication channels – such as TV, radio, print media etc – were considered vital to any brand that took its external communications seriously. This came as a result of those brands needing to convey their brand messages and promises to as much of the market as possible, in an attempt to connect with as many of their target audience as possible. As time went on, and branded mass marketing continued to rise, consumers began to experience what has now become known as commercial clutter – which is the overwhelming sensation of being bombarded with mass marketing campaign messages from all corners of the marketplace – and this felt a lot like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except the needle is also made of hay. The way in which those brands communicated had to be re-evaluated in order to ensure maximum bang for their buck.
In the present
These days – and that term is used very loosely – brands have had to resort to new alternative ways to connect and engage with their consumers in order to be heard. Which means that these days the consumers don’t need to go rummaging through the hay, because what they’re searching for has been separated and differentiate from the rest to suit their needs. This has led to new communications concepts such as challenger brand thinking and disruption, which are two of the many different ways in which brands can utilize the marketing resources available to them to break through the “commercial clutter”. This helps ensure that their respective target audiences not only takes note of their respective brand messages and promises, but also creates the opportunity for those consumers to engage with those respective brands in an attempt to create stronger, more meaningful relationships with their consumers.
Couple this trend with a multitude of advances in technology – that allow us to engage and interact with people from anywhere in the world, at any time we wish – which is nowadays being referred to as digital disruption, and we begin to understand that the consumer has been given more power to pick and choose who they want to connect with. The high levels of modern day commercial clutter has created a situation wherein the consumer has become incredibly selective about the information they choose to pay attention to; and as a result of this, brands now have to segregate their target segments even further. The fact that consumers are now constantly connected to the internet via their mobile phones means that the brands who truly want to stay ahead of the curve look for ways to target each individual consumer on a personal level. This type of B2C (brand-to-consumer) communications tactic means that brands are allowed more opportunity to tailor their communications to each individual consumer’s needs and wants.
In the future
So what does this mean for the future of brand communications? As brands continue to adapt and evolve their communications strategies, the balance of power continues to shift to the consumer. These days brands have less control over their consumers ZMOT (Zero-moment of truth), which is the point in a customer journey where they actively research a product or service. This can happen even before the brands know that those potential consumers exist.
Technological advancements coupled with the birth, and rapid growth of social media means that we are moving towards an era where digital media is essentially the primary form of interaction between a brands and their consumers. We are already seeing some branding agencies looking to take advantages of their consumers intuitive and psychological nature by utilizing emotional elements into their brand communications.
From here on in, it has become imperative of brands to think of themselves as actual people who form part of our society, and engages with the rest of the community in a manner that is not only mimics the way we act in the digital realm as humans, but also show signs of being a social citizen that adds value to our community in their own way.
Brand communications has come a long way from what it used to be. While in the past it may have been all about selling product and increasing market share, these days brands are required to act responsibly as citizens of our community with whom we can build sustainable relationships that add value to all parties involved. It is difficult to say for sure what the future holds for the world of brand communications, will we get to a stage where we talk about those brands as we do about our friends and family? Could we possibly see a time where we engage with brands on more intimate level? All we can say for certain is that at this stage we are uncertain, but we’re definitely excited to find out.