Increased velocity of communications — driven largely by technology, networked communications like social media and, of course, mobile devices — has created countless new trends, habits and, indeed, marketing opportunities.
However, one such marketing opportunity could actually be an evolution in marketing. And that’s the emergence of brand behavior. Not brand anthropomorphization (necessarily), but brand behavior: the things a brand does in the physical and digital worlds that add further meaning and color to what the brand is all about. In a way, consumers can get to know a brand better than ever.
Like many evolutionary moments, this opportunity comes as a result of the confluence of several developments. One factor is the rapidly increasing velocity of communications. But alongside a) the lower cost of entry to distributed communications platforms (such as social media) and b) a critical mass of smartphone penetration (over 56% in the United States, according to Google), such velocity has created an expectation among consumers that brands respond to both people and popular culture in ways that transcend traditional marketing messaging.
These brand responses to their environment — simply put — collectively make up a brand’s behavior.
The idea of brand behavior isn’t necessarily new. Experiential and promotional marketing, product design and retail experiences all drive a perceived behavior of a brand. But only in the last few years has it been so easy for a brand to take action in response to their environment in ways that can build key equities so efficiently.
So what does great brand behavior look like? Here are just a few of the great examples out there.
KLM is legendary for helping out passengers that have travel troubles via Twitter — even if they aren’t flying KLM. They even reportedly changed a flight based on one consumer’s social media request.
Purina celebrates life with pets and helps all people with their pet care questions via Twitter — not just Purina fans, followers or advocates.
Arby’s bought a certain hat off of Pharrell for charity after the social media world thought his Grammy wardrobe resembled the brand’s iconic logo.
Kit Kat worked with Android to name its next OS version.
Lay’s gave people summer swag via Twitter just for making sure they take the time to enjoy summer.
These interactions alone might look like stunts or nice marketing programs — and in some cases they are exactly that. But they go beyond one-way communications and each shows a case of a brand acting or reacting to its world and the people in it, and actually walking the walk of their brand equities rather than just messaging them.
As people and the brands they love continue to interact, a behavior — and eventually a personality — for these brands emerges. Whether it is planned or not. Leading marketers will recognize this, define their brand’s personality honestly, authentically and methodically, and will use that definition to guide their brand’s behavior and communications in everything they do. This definition also helps translate brand and advertising “big ideas” into channels where brands coexist with actual humans — like through social media. True high-equity, high-affinity brands will master their brand’s behavior and begin driving equity with it locally and globally.
But, marketers have to be careful. Marketers must resist the urge to just start doing stuff in their brand’s name. Don’t test and learn. Don’t just jump. Develop a detailed personality definition to establish reasonable and actionable spaces for the brand to act within. Then test and learn within that framework.
Ken Kraemer (kk4i) is Chief Creative Officer at Deep Focus. He leads creative, the Moment Studio, Social Media Communications and Technology. You can reach him on Twitter at @kk4i.
This is an article in What’s Ahead The Deep Focus 2015 Marketing Outlook Report. If you manage a brand or work on one at an Agency, reading this report is time well spent. Check it out at dfoc.us/2015Outlook.