Thanks for the response, Darren. I would love to read all of Sharp’s argument and give it the justice it deserves, but that would take a really long time, so hopefully you’ll accept this as at least a good effort to respond.
I looked up Byron Sharp, and found a summary of his argument in presentation form that I think got at its essence (please tell me if you don’t think so). Of course, I would have rather read the book(s), but given the nature of your response, I wanted to respond quickly, because I like that you’re making me think about what I said in the context of a thinker who knows more about this stuff than I likely ever will. Thus, I wanted to put together my thoughts on your critique sooner rather than later.
To start, here are Byron Sharp’s seven rules for brand growth, per this presentation: https://www.slideshare.net/zanaida/how-brands-grow-a-summary-of-byron-sharps-book
I will address how my argument fits in with each of them in turn.
- Continuously reach all buyers of the category (communication + distribution) — don’t ever be silent. The internet has enabled unprecedented levels of both communication with and distribution to consumers. It has never been easier for brands to communicate with both their existing customers and potential ones, just as it has never been easier for brands to distribute their products to those that want them, given that locality is no longer a constraint in the internet world.
- Ensure the brand is easy to buy (communicate how it fits with the user’s life). The internet has made the process of making a purchase nearly frictionless. Consumers can order food from a restaurant without ever having to speak, or move farther than from their couch to their door. Similarly, Amazon allows consumers to make purchases with a click, and now, with nothing more than their voice. Assuming prime membership, the majority of those purchases will translate into deliveries within a 48-hour window.
- Get noticed (grab attention and focus on brand salience to prime the user’s mind). Attention is grabbed by sensationalism, if that sensationalism inspires future emotions, but it can also be grabbed by relevance, if that relevance targets past emotions. If brands know consumers well enough to know what makes them tick (biometric data), and what they’ve liked in the past (purchase histories driven by that biometric data), brands will be able to capture attention not through “sensationalism”, but through direct targeting based on data that never existed in the old world of advertising. “Brand salience to prime the user’s mind” will be replaced by “brand presentation to monetize on measurements of users’ subconscious desires” (both biometric and purchase-based).
- Refresh and rebuild memory structures (respect existing associations that make the brand easy to notice and easy to buy). This is where the relationship aspect (mentioned by several other commenters) will come into play. Big brands used to run large-scale branding campaigns to keep their brands top of mind. Now, with the incredible levels of targeting available to brands in the internet era, companies will be able to keep their brand top of mind by building personal relationships with their power users, and fostering new relationships with good candidates for their product by, you guessed it, capitalizing on their data.
- Create and use distinctive brand assets (sensory cues that get noticed and stay top of mind). Brands will use biometric data to create sensory cues that keep their brands top of mind.
- Be consistent (avoid unnecessary changes, whilst keeping brand fresh and interesting). No real change here. I would argue that personal relationships with brands will become even more important in a world in which people are already struggling more than they ever have before to find a sense of community.
- Stay competitive (keep the brand easy to buy and avoid giving excuses not the buy). Internet will make the purchasing process ever more seamless. Data will give companies good ideas on product strategy faster than ever before, allowing brands to stay ahead of a consumer ever saying to themselves, “maybe I’ll go to a different brand”.
Granted, this is all still hypothetical. But having read the basics of Sharp’s framework, I would argue that it bolsters my argument more than undermines it. It sounds, however, like you took more issue with the lack of data supporting my argument than the argument itself. The futurist nature of the argument makes finding hard data to support it difficult (numbers, specifically), but I do believe the trends happening right now are leading us in the direction I outline. We may have to agree to disagree. Thanks again for your response. Always appreciate the opportunity to reconsider what I’ve posited. Also, reach out to me if you’d like — email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to continue the dialogue there.