‘Strategy vs Robots’, APG conference Panel : Frances Ralston-Good, Tracey Follows, Steve Hilton, Baroness Susan Greenfield & Dom Boyd

Dear brand, do you want my awareness or a relationship?

I attended ‘Taking the Pulse’, organised by Eventbrite in March. During a panel discussion Kevin Jackson -President of ILEA UK- said that:

“Brands don’t need awareness, they need relationships”

The above short but clear insight about brands and the role of events has been in the back of my mind for a few weeks. It is evident that brands need to establish relationships with consumers and this is where events can really add value to a brand. Experiential can offer the space where relationships can be established and nurtured through content, conversations and by engaging all the senses.

The importance of ‘the moment’ and the senses
Relationships are meaningful and hopefully long lasting. Can we establish long term relationships in a heavily digitalised society where ‘the moment’ and the stimulation of the senses is the most important thing and where thinking and cognition tend to be in second place?

If instead of saying lets have a sensational time we say: lets have a cognitive time, who would come?”, said scientist Baroness Susan Greenfield at the APG Conference 2016.

Events are an ideal medium to engage all the senses, specially the ones that is not possible to reach through TV, online or print such as smell, which is also one of the most primitive senses and a difficult one to block. Sound is another primitive sense and perhaps that is why music festivals are natural brand sponsorship allies for brands. During the festival season brands can connect with the music fans, their identities, emotions and all the dopamine that comes with that.

21st Century identities and brand narratives
According to Greenfield, individuals from newer generations need constant feedback around their identities or idealised self. When the self image is highly idealised -as it can tend to happen on social media- then the identity becomes fragile and dependant on instant feedback.

The British scientist also mentioned that brands can actually help with giving people stories and identities. In this sense, I believe the identities and narratives offered don’t necessarily need to be imposed or fabricated. The narratives on offer can and should respond to what Frances Ralston-Good -Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Omnicom Media Group UK- said later on at the APG Conference panel: “The job of planners now is to deeply understand people’s needs, not wants and we need to understand emotions”.

Needs come first and therefore they can be a safer bet than focusing on wants when it comes to establishing and maintaining relationships between brands and their consumers or potential customers. How much do we really invest in knowing our clients and audiences. Do we just want them to know who we are? that we are there? or do we really want to build a relationship with them? Actions speak more than words.

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