Lose The Like.

I have been working in marketing and advertising since the late 90’s. In that time my role has shifted and changed, the types of projects I have worked on have shifted and changed, and in many ways the industry has shifted and changed. What doesn’t seem to have changed is the approach towards the consumer when it comes to the objectives of marketing and advertising.

All too often I hear asks like “We need to make our customers feel like they’re connected to the brand” and “We need to make the demographic feel like we get them”. The more I hear phrases like this the more it urques me. Let’s dissect the phrases for a second and single out the one offending word, like. The fact this is dropped into these statements backs up what so many people feel about advertising. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Even the dictionary definition of the word “like” in the context it’s used here clearly shows an intent to deceive.

Having the same or similar qualities
The same or nearly the same
Closely resembling the subject or original

Like like like. Using it clearly shows our intent to deceive the audience. Maybe not in an entirely malicious way but we clearly want to falsely align ourselves with their desires and wants. By associating it with the word “Feel” we are clearly showing that our goal is to connect to the user. But lets also take a look at the definition of “Feel”.

To undergo passive experience of
To be aware of by instinct or inference
To receive or be able to receive a tactile sensation
To have a marked sentiment or opinion

Now these are traits I do agree with. We do want consumers to really feel that connection to a brand and so do they. They need tactile responses. They need recognition. They need to be aware of the impact a brand has on them. Consumers today are smarter, have more choices, have more resources, and as a result are overloaded with messages, lessons, opinions, all fed to them by brands that don’t truly understand them.

The advertising industry has crafted itself around ideas of manipulation and not around ideas of truly understanding. Our goal is often to “Change perceptions” of a brand by drilling and poking at consumers in the hope they’ll give in and admit that we are what they want. It simply won’t work anymore as our audience is no longer captive. So let’s lose some of the offending words from our goals and objectives. Lets’ take “We need to make our customers feel like they’re connected to the brand” and turn it into “We need to make our customers feel connected to the brand” and “We need to make the demographic feel like we get them” into We need to show a demographic that we do get them”.

With those being the goals we won’t set out deceive or manipulate. We’ll set out to analyze, learn, get educated, and identify our connection points. Then our role should then be to honestly craft those experiences and make people aware of them. This means the brands themselves need to be more honest, more trustworthy, more an augmentation to their customers lives rather than a wart. If that’s what the brands desire then the agencies that represent them will need to change their focus and start really looking at the audience, understanding the audience, and advising their brands on how best to create that genuine connection to their audience to maintain, grow and cultivate it.

It’s time to get rid of the misuse of “Like”

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