Thieves of hearts in a digital world
Many things have changed since my first steps in an advertising agency, but the key to get results in our business remains the same: touch the people’s hearts and cause them to do something. This task is becoming increasingly complex. The impact of technology has changed everything and the relationship status between brands and people is “it’s complicated”.
The main problem remains the same: indifference. If and when we finally push past it, we see that the reality of the connection between brands and people is more and more like a Snapchat picture: it disappears after a few seconds.
In response, the talent in our industry continues to point to the heart, with creative solutions and new ways to make brands and products relevant in people’s lives, not just through stories but also with an experience, utility services / products, etc. In this context, Planners have moved us from inspiration of effective messages to inspiring any form of value — not only having to understand people, culture, etc. but also understand business strategy and models. And although we still call it advertising, currently what we do is creative marketing.
But to provoke and overcome indifference and its volatile relationship with people, brands need, not only to speak to the hearts of their consumers, but to show they have one. In fact, some brands and companies have it, but they are shrunken and rusty, unprepared to empathize and connect with an increasingly liquid society — affected by superficiality, individuality and indifference, walking on tiptoe across the surface clamoring for opportunities to give everyday sense to enrich their spiritual world, human relationships and feel part of something positive and meaningful. People do not buy what you sell but also who you are and why you sell it.
As the planning department, we try to inject steroids into a company’s empathy and generosity to help brands navigate the economy of affection. It is no longer just about brand with a heart but business with a heart and with a purpose that they have to prove true in an authentic way, generating a positive impact on society and the lives of people. The ideal is embedding part of the heart into the business model, as examples of Toms or Innocent.
“To steal a heart you have to know how it works” (Anonymous)
There are two expressions that define well the keys to brand behavior: “Putting Heart” — do it with passion and demonstrate it (having a position not only positioning) “Act of heart” — authenticity and honesty as a flag. But this approach must be applied to products, starting with them . It has always been talked about LoveMarks, when nowadays what we have to talk about is LoveableProducts instead. This is nothing new, John Windsor & Alex Bogusky brilliantly picked this approach some years ago in their book “Baked In” This product approach is a better way to generate a significant value to the consumer plus being a shortcut to gain a position, such as Decibel, a Champagne brand that created a product fermented with electronic music.
This was a brilliant way to take a position in the world of night and electronic music, authentically from the heart of the product. In fact, this approach should apply to all consumer interactions found in a product or service, beginning with micro interactions and small details that are often those who make the difference. Today, the size of the interaction is not indicative of its importance and impact on the user.
Finally, in the real time world in which we live, once we have found and activated the heart, what remains is a continuous cardio class that helps to get it ready and trained for the 100, 1500 and the marathon, let’s not forget that this is not short term race but also long term, and that we have to be ready for a sudden sprint. Just look at the world of entertainment and content marketing as a reference for how to move at the speed of culture.
Well, fortunately for now technology will not replace ideas and emotion, and it mean anything for a brand to surround themselves with technology and hope they 3D print themselves a heart according to specifications. Meanwhile, we will continue working hard so people can say more often that in one way or another (through emotion or reason), a brand has stolen their heart.
(Article Published in the magazine: Código Jan Ken Po #8, December 2014)