building brand

It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting an ad guy espousing the benefits of evolving your brand. So how do you separate the pretenders from the contenders? How can you tell the hucksters from the buck-sters? In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Turn on your TV, go online, read a magazine – do you see much evolution out there? We see a lot of stuff that looks exactly the same. Do not confuse wacky advertising with brand evolution. In fact, we believe one of the biggest reasons everything looks the same is because most of it is just plain wacky and there is no actual evolutionary branding. Anyone can stick a new logo on the ad, that’s not evolution, either.

Here are 5 ways to really be evolve your brand in your messaging:

1) Talk to your core (but invite others to listen in). In this era of specialization, you can’t be everything to everybody. Stop trying to appeal the largest common denominator. Be a reductionist, both in your messaging and your targeting. Brands evolve from the inside out.

2) Stop talking to yourself. An unexpected insight cannot come from within – it must be discovered externally. The simplest insights are unexpected. Reject complexity. Be simplistic. You can tell the brands that are talking to themselves: their messages are complicated. Evolution is simplistic…natural.

3) Sell something with your ad. It’s not trendy, or wacky but selling your product or service hard is not for the faint of heart. It’s hip these days to say, “people don’t want to be sold and they are bombarded with messages all day.” Okay, so what? In the face of that how will you sell? Some agencies do this very well. They’re not ashamed to drive transactions.

4) Be a category of ONE. Courage means having the conviction to break away from the conventions of your category. Most brands can swap their logos with their competitors and nobody would really be able to tell the difference. The insurance category is a recent exception; Flo, The Duck and Mayhem are distinctly different directions within the same category.

5) Trust your eyes and ears. If it can’t pass the “out loud test” – it will fail. You’re a smart marketer, so prove it. Maybe the best campaign of this century is Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World.” It’s the first time a beer brand sold beer to a target that “doesn’t always drink beer.” But, it works because it was the smartest approach for the brand. It was the smartest way to talk to their target. This is brand evolution at its best.

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At the heart of Darwin’s theory was the idea that each species adapts to its environment. From this process of change, new species arise. This theory has relevance to marketers seeking to spread their message in a changing marketplace; let’s call it marketing evolution.

While on a journey aboard the HMS Beagle, Darwin observed that every island of the Galapagos had its own type of finch. While these birds were closely familiar, they differed in subtle, but important ways. This holds truth when a marketer attempts to distribute their message across various platforms.

Darwin theorized that organisms best suited to their environment had a greater chance of survival and reproduction. They passed along their key survival characteristics to their offspring

Today’s marketers distributing brand messages through multiple platforms are prone to Darwin’s theory. Competing for attention in each channel, key “survival traits” are necessary to be optimally successful. Context and relevance matter — if they are neglected, the message disappears and the brand faces extinction.

Below are 5 theories Darwin outlined in On the Origin of Species, and how they apply to content marketing evolution:

1) Evolution “While species come and go through time, they change during their existence”: Branding and marketing isn’t new. Brands have always relied content to survive. But, content has evolved over time. It started as stories told around the fire to teach and entertain family and friends. Make sure your brand can evolve with the times. The best way to accomplish this is to use stories about your business. Story-building is how consumers will remember your brand.

2) Common Descent “While organisms descend from one or more common ancestors, they diversify from the original stock”: Diversify your content! Use various techniques – text, photos, info-graphics, videos, etc…

3) Species Multiply “Diversification involves the population of one species changing until they become two distinct species”: Allow your brand message to multiply. Create subsequent content around your core brand and products. Your brand will take on exponential lives.

4) Gradualism “New species don’t occur suddenly. Rather evolutionary alterations happen with small incremental changes inside populations”: Content distribution is not effective simply by getting it out there. Adapt it powerfully for each platform and channel.

5) Natural Selection “Evolution occurs due to differences between individual species therefore some variations provide improved chances for survival”: Just as natural selection affects species competition, each piece of marketing content struggles for attention. Success is not about mass volume attention but about the most relevant content to the most relevant consumer. Create content that ensures that. Successful messages survive.

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