Jayant Murty, director, strategy, media and integrated marketing, Asia Pacific Region, Intel Corp delivered a brief talk on the art of building brands in today's era of multiple degrees of freedom.
Rife with examples, Murty's presentation addressed the issue of what 360 degree branding and communication meant.
After touching upon how social media (particularly Twitter) today is an important source of news for many senior professionals, he spoke about brands that have come close to exploiting the true meaning of '360 degree' communication. For instance, recently, at London's Design Festival, Audi introduced consumers to the back-end factory operations by installing and displaying LED-equipped robots. "Through this effort, Audi humanised the robot. And that's how they build brands," mused Murty.
He went on to name Nike (that dropped its TV budget by 55 per cent in 10 years) and Skittles (that dropped its TV budget by 100 per cent in five years) as brands that are known for bold moves, explaining that it's smart to step beyond the circus of simply pumping into TV slots and ads. Rather, he advised, brands should think smart and exploit the right kind of medium in the right way.
Consider this: Star violinist Josh Bell, who gets paid $1,000 per hour to play, gathered just three onlookers when he played for hours at a public place disguised as a layman.
Also, the brand Zappos, for example, changed the name of the game and did well by shifting its media spends and overall focus from print advertising to customer experience, which in turn generated tremendous word of mouth. "Being a 360 degree brand means creating spaces, creating channels and creating platforms," said Murty.
This, he explained, is especially important because in today's era of multiple degrees of freedom, there prevails something called 'Cognitive Surplus'. "Consumers don't want to be bribed into doing things," he elaborated, "Often, brands bribe their way into getting consumers to do stuff."
He then briefly dished out some tips for those present. "Some of the trends to consider in '360 thinking' are generosity, utility, eco-sensitivity, transparency (for instance shops/airports displaying tweets related to the brand on a live-feed, public forum such as a physical wall inside the premises), status and experience. Regarding experience, Murty cited the example of Land Rover, which runs a school to train consumers on how to use the car; the training programme is more popular than the product itself! "Experience trumps ownership when it comes to such brands," Murty exclaimed.
Then, he suggested that '360 brands' ought to stop thinking in terms of multiple platforms (such as TV, print and OOH) and instead, start thinking in terms of multiple screens (mobile, PC, tablet and others). Timing, he went on to underscore, is especially crucial these days. "Today, it's all about branding at the speed of thought," he stated, referring to opportunistic advertising.
Detergent brand Dawn did this when it aired ads that spoke about how the brand saved the lives of many sea animals during the tragic oil spills.
Lastly, he cautioned that the linearity of 360 is dead as brands can now launch from absolutely anywhere, especially given digital options, thanks to which it is impossible to completely erase one's brand footprint. Due to this, campaigns today have no real ending point as such. They live on way after their execution days.
Apple, Ikea, Lego and Xprize Foundation were some the brands Murty mentioned as having achieved a fair degree of 360 thinking.
"Think projects, not campaigns and try to solve huge brand problems," Murty signed off.
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