When was the last time you said 'wow' about a brand?

I don’t mean, ‘oh that was kind of cool.’ I mean, ‘Wow!’ followed by an audible pause. And what happened after your ‘wow’ moment? Did you instantly go online and buy everything you could from that brand? Probably not, but if not already there, it definitely left an imprint in your mind. Even if it only resulted in a Twitter follow or some Insta likes, that’s all it needs sometimes.

With a consumer base more brand agnostic than ever, advertising can’t afford to only be geared at making a direct sale. It has to engage at a deeper level and leave more of a mark; something that might resonate at a later date when your audience needs a new pair of shoes or needs to panic buy a TV before the World Cup final.

The secret sauce.

There has to be a bit of a recipe to those ‘wow’ moments. ‘Purpose’ is a big one, think back a year to all of those ‘there for you’ adverts, that not only didn’t connect with what the brands intended to do, it made me laugh out loud. Consistency is also key; brand recognition is crucial in making sure your audience isn’t left trying to work out who is talking to them. And with time (especially on socials) being the life-and-death of content, you need to bring your audience in quickly.

Keep it relevant as well. What platform are your audience on? Who is your audience? And on that topic, find out who your customer is, not just who you want them to be. It’s impossible to create engagement that will appeal to all people, so own the audience that it is intended for. The last major ingredient is creativity. Being creative isn’t just being original, something that gets harder and harder as time goes on anyway; it means engagement and authenticity, while remaining appealing.

One of the things that’s stuck with me recently and is being extremely well-used by brands in the past few years is poetry. Clever wordsmithery appeals to me for multiple reasons and Nationwide is one of those brands that I love to see new content from. They’ve been consistent with the idea of poetry in their ad campaigns for a long time now. Now it doesn’t really help that I already banked with them, but it certainly gave me a bit of satisfaction that might have nudged up the NPS scale a notch to the right.

And even though spoken word in ads has been a thing for years and years, the shift to adoption of the format has heightened immensely in a locked-down Britain. Take it up a notch to the realms of rap and Just Eat bringing in Snoop Dogg is probably going to stick with a few of us for a very long time — just the sheer balls of it all; the concept is madness, but everyone wins: Snoop, Just Eat and the consumer.

Invest now for future growth.

Fact time. Our Pulse research reaffirms the trend of clever content being a key draw for the consumer. 7 in 10 Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to embrace a brand that use social channels innovatively. That’s a number that has increased in the last few months.

So building a brand (or at least brand awareness) around a younger audience is a great idea. Those advertising pounds will have a much longer-term return if you can bring Gen Z and Millennial to the party and keep them interested. Obviously, capturing the minds of older generations is important tool. Ads on TV work best for them – 40% discover new brands via TV versus only 30% for Gen Z and Millennials.

Generationally, brand loyalty floats at around 47% for every age range on average. But that younger audience of Gen Z and Millennials have a slightly deeper brand love on average (36% vs 30%) so there’s a small trend towards being a bit more cemented in a brand’s ecosystem for younger customers.

It feels like loyalty doesn’t really change with age. What does change is the approach to how generational gaps then tend to tap into those brands. Loyalty schemes are much more popular with older consumers, only 36% of Gen Z use some sort of scheme, but that rockets up to 67% of Boomers. However, advertising really works for younger audiences, with 26% of Gen Z buying brands they’ve seen advertised; the numbers drops down to only 8% for the eldest consumers.

Right channels, right time. But mean it.

I feel like it’s obvious that younger generations will adopt and adapt to a more omnichannel approach. But whatever the channel is; whatever your message is; whatever age the audience is – be authentic.

And these numbers from our newest wave of Pulse Index show an interesting disparity from how age changes your view of companies. Generations aside, empathy for businesses, both large and small, since the lockdown has been on the increase.

Advertising regularly suffers from “the vision” of the creative minds that go into it (2020’s slew of Christmas ads ticking this box). Your audience isn’t going to automatically love your brand and it’s content because you do. And just because a consumer is also your customer, don’t expect them to be loyal, they aren’t your family. But you do have a relationship with them. In fact, it exists with all consumers and customers, past, present and future. Every message they see with your brand logo should be meaningful and honest. It doesn’t have to be deep, or thought-provoking, and especially in lockdown, funny is good but not crucial.

Keeping it real.

Purpose, consistency, relevance and creativity don’t have to stay solely in the digital world. The touchpoints you have with your audience are not exclusive to the content that you create. All of these key qualities can be harnessed in the physical world as well. For example, when a potential customer sees your product in a retail store, brand consistency is still crucial, if not more so. And the authenticity and creativity that a consumer sees with your in-store execution and brand ambassadors can resonate in the physical world just as it does in the virtual.

The one thing — above all others — the one thing your audience should see when they see your brand… 

‘Wow!’

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