Start your content engines

By Sam Wilson

A few colleagues and I just attended FastCo’s Innovation Uncensored in NYC. Much of the discussion was focused on the disruption of almost every category by changes in media - here are a few of my key takeaways on what this all means for brand:

A smart content strategy has to start with brand purpose

When there are a million things you could do to engage with consumers, focusing on what will make a difference to your brand is critical. The starting point should be a powerful and differentiated brand purpose that can act as a lens for decision-making and a brief for content. Your brand purpose will be the jumping off point for populating an entire content calendar and informing every piece of content. Speakers from Intel, Dove, and Oreo each honed in on how important their purposes have been to content creation. For Intel it’s enriching the lives of everyone on the planet, and for Dove it’s making women feel more beautiful. The VP of Global media and consumer engagement for Oreo said, “Brand drives what you listen to, and therefore the insights you build ideas on”. 

Brands doing this well:

+ Evian’s recently ended their silence and have come out with a slew of baby ads

They’re well produced and have returned to the brand’s ‘baby’ heritage. “Baby and Me” launched earlier this week and has already gotten over 30 million YouTube views. 

+ Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” video is another example of a company leading with purpose, was instantly a viral hit.

Chipotle’s purpose – food with integrity – made the video feel like a genuine extension of everything the brand is working to achieve.

+ And Fiat’s appealing to mothers across the globe and using its brand to reach new audiences with “The Motherhood”.

Your brand is the company you keep

Companies will be successful in these brand-building endeavors if they are clear about their own role and select the right sort of company to keep. Often the brand’s role is creating and funding a platform, but access to the right tribes of people to engage with will come from partnering strategically with an organization or agency that understands what will appeal to that specific audience. Intel has partnered numerous times with Vice on Creators Project (a global tech arts and music festival). Nancy Lublin from Do Something also reinforced this point when she explained the partnership between Dosomething.org + Aeropostale that’s combating homelessness in a way where everyone gains. 

Brands doing this well:

+ Vimeo (a community of filmmakers) and Lincoln Motor Company (an old iconic American brand) have come together to create the “Hello Again” project that invites filmmakers to reimagine iconic brands via Vimeo.

+ Soundcloud is partnering with Red Bull, Blue Bottle Coffee (& others) to provide access to their huge community and create new revenue streams, all whilst protecting the integrity of their own brand and respecting their members.

You have to be geared up differently to act in the moment

For Dove’s latest campaign, the client had to sign off on a ‘social experiment’, not a carefully crafted script.

They shot real women in real time, and the marketing team had to be on set to make decisions in real time. 

Oreo was able to react so quickly during the Super Bowl blackout this year because they were able to rely on the social strategy they’d already had in place. 18 months ago, Oreo marketing created the ‘Impulse Lab’ (a team of cross-functional brains from insights, brand and legal teams) that set them up to react in right the moment. The payoff was the tweet that became one of the most memorable moments of the Super Bowl. 

It’s increasingly clear that in the moment scenarios like this are becoming more and more important for brand. Social media teams are being built up and invested in unlike ever before. In the past 5-10 years, ‘social’ jobs have become commonplace

And rising star companies like Salesforce are even evolving these roles – they’re changing the title to ‘social strategists’

So to wrap up the ‘so what’ of it all – get your purpose right as it’s the fuel for everything. Work directly with the people you want engage with your brand. And reengineer your marketing capabilities and processes to suit the new context.

Sam Wilson is managing director of Wolff Olins New York.

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