Saturday, June 7, 2008

Next generation brands have bigger shoes to fill

Just read another thought-provoking presentation over at Change This.

Their latest manifesto talks about the Invisible Badge: Moving past conspicuous consumption. I find it fascinating. Upfront Rob Walker says, "What the Joneses might think is, really, beside the point. Because what you are really doing is telling that story to yourself" - a greater sense of self-fulfillment with support from consumption of goods.

Rob says "Really getting who the audience is you're trying to impress and tell your [brand] story to is freeing." I think he hits strategy on the head with this: Really what we are trying to do is get the product's selling point to fit seamlessly within people's lives, and if we truly understand WHO they are and what drives them, this should be easy, freeing, and attainable.

But what the real challenge is, he says, is "perhaps the fundamental tension of modern life: the challenge of feeling like both an individual and a part of something bigger than ourselves."

Yikes. How do we link a brand's relevance to attaining a sense of self while at the same time, linking people to the greater good? This is what a lot of brands are struggling with now: how to serve the greater good, a brand conscious that serves the individual while serving the world. Rob defines this new marketplace as finding material ways to express a connection instead of extracting a belief system from the mere fact that a lot of people purchase product X.

And this is rather revolutionary for the industry. Brands have figured out how to be brands, how to rally around an insight, and shine their uniqueness in an emotional way and drive sales. What brands need to do NOW is link people to a greater sense of something good for the world. And this will be successful because, as Rob says, "participation is its own reward."

The new marketing era of "Going green" does not only mean you should recycle more, it means think about others, think about the future, make conscious decisions to be a better person within society. And so, brands now need to "go green" and think about the greater good and not just themselves or their ROI. The world has made a cultural, life-serving investment for a long time and now it's analyzing its ROI. It's time now to give back. The Invisible Badge asks us to really reflect on who we are and what our life will mean in the great scheme of things.
Here here.

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