What Brand Marketers Can Learn from the Dinosaurs
Over the last few years we have seen how influential consumers can be in determining the value of a brand. Think of the GAP and O.co rebrands, or should I say un-rebrands? Today’s consumers are given a voice that allows them to create, validate or even redefine brands in a matter of minutes on the Web.
Over the past 2 years, niche entities have popped up daily and garner thousands, even millions, of audience members in mere days. Some have even played a major role in redefining brands across a number of categories. For example, Groupon, Living Social and Zullilly found a position within the retail vertical that was once dominated by mainstays of the space like Amazon and eBay. The viral nature of the interactive marketplace allows for unknowns to become hot topics, fads or new pillars quickly, even within existing, flourishing verticals.
Look at Pinterest whose traffic grew 52% February over January 2012 to 17.8M uniques, with only Healthline and IRS.gov showing higher growth rates (source: Comscore). We can’t go a day without someone saying ‘check out what I saw on Pinterest!’ These didn’t exist weeks ago and now every advertiser is asking ‘How can we get involved in this?’ And what about Peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com? Sounds like a violent site that most brands wouldn’t want to be associated with, right? Wrong. It was recently named the #1 Funny ‘Mom Blogs’ and attracts an audience of web-savvy women who are in tune with various outlets and sources for suggestions, tips and ideas.
Advertisers need to start thinking of these viral communities of interactive users as keys to their success, not just when they ‘hit it big’, but from the start. They must be risk-takers when choosing where to showcase their brand because the landscape of the interactive marketplace is constantly changing and makes it nearly impossible for a brand to have a static definition. The Web is the one medium where users can interact immediately with a brand, whether it is making a purchase, providing information or whatever the call to action is.
Consumers are quick to look past the shell of these entities and focus on the effectiveness and accuracy of the content, the ease of interaction and navigation and the impact it has on their lives. Yet, we still find ourselves holding the term ‘brand-safe environment’ as this untouchable, elitist mark that no mere viral success could attain that type of safety. Brand-safe environments are important, don’t get me wrong. But nowadays brands need to move as fast as the average consumer, even if that means breaking away from the preconceived notion that niche doesn’t equal brand-safe. They must embrace the long-tail, the viral communities, and the pools of users that drive the Pinterests of the world to succeed.
A long time ago the world changed and the dinosaurs didn’t make it; brand awareness and impact should yield to history’s lessons to avoid a similar fate. I’m not suggesting that conservative brands are going to be taken over by the niche community, but history is one of the best reminders of what to do… and what not to do.