The purpose of this post is not to solve the problems of the world or, more specifically, our struggles in adapting to a social/digital world. The purpose of this post is to spark a different conversation around planning, big ideas and/or — for lack of a better term — campaigns. We believe that when you ask new and different questions, new possibilities or opportunities arise. So that is what we intend to do here.
As we all know and have witnessed firsthand over the last few years, our media landscape and consumer media behaviors have drastically changed. Consumer engagement with owned and earned channels is endless. It’s an endless conversation that doesn’t have a start or stop button. Unfortunately, as the consumer landscape has changed, most approaches in developing communication plans, ideas and “campaigns” have very much remained the same. Think about it: We take a “big idea” and hand it to connections and media teams to implement in paid, owned and earned channels. The only difference from this approach and traditional media planning is that we are now forced to implement in owned and earned channels. This issue goes back to how consumer engagement is endless today. Unlike a traditional campaign, consumers demand ongoing, relevant interactions with brands on their terms. While we know we are supposed to think “channel agnostic” today, most of the time campaigns are meant for paid media and forced to fit into our owned and earned channels. So are we looking at planning the wrong way? Does the traditional “big idea” work in our landscape today? Is there a new way to think of planning?
As consumers seek ongoing, contextual relevance with brands on various channels, we have to wonder if we are fighting a losing battle with trying to stretch one message across too many platforms.
While we all know that a singular message is powerful, we also know that a story can truly move us. One potential way to think about planning is developing a “brand narrative” versus “brand campaign.” Just like any story, a brand narrative has chapters — chapters that, when read or experienced in their entirety, create a well-rounded, powerful image of a brand. More importantly though, it’s about telling these chapters in relevant places (i.e., paid, owned, earned channels). While a big, traditional “campaign” can be a chapter and part of the overall brand story, it doesn’t have to be the entire story. We think what’s interesting about this approach is that it doesn’t force conversations in channels that don’t naturally fit with consumer behavior, and instead allows us to determine where we can be most relevant and impactful with consumers.
Here are some questions to consider:
• Are the ways we develop “campaigns” today relevant given the consumer and media landscape?
• If you developed a brand narrative, what would the title of the narrative be?
• What would be the chapters to that story and where would you tell them?
• What’s our role in educating clients about this? (We can revise our approach, but we need client buy in.)
• All things considered, does this approach create fragmentation?