The tides are shifting. The ways in which brands become loved are no longer tried and true. Given today's digital and democratized landscape, a different formula is required for brands to become adored by people.
The elements that create consumer trust have been demonstrated by today's top marketers from companies like Visa, American Greetings, and Gatorade. During ANA's Digital and Social Conference, these brands discussed how new technologies and various media have impacted the brand-consumer relationship. Here are four key takeaways that identify how to establish a loved brand in the digital age.
Abide by the truth
In his presentation, Shiv Singh, SVP, global head of digital & marketing transformation at Visa, noted that nowadays people build their identities through the brands they love -- not the other way around. Additionally, today's most loved brands aren't your usual suspects (CPG, food and beverage, auto) -- they are technology brands.
Consumers today are less swayed by flowery messaging and big promises, and are more concerned with the facts. With the proliferation of social channels (read: more ways to find the truth), an upfront brand is a brand people can get behind. Be clear in the value your brand's products offer to cultivate trust among otherwise wary consumers.
Tap into cultural tensions to stay relevant
Building both the category and the brand was important to American Greetings. They were in danger of losing relevance in a digital age -- despite being a category leader, no one was talking about them. So, they leveraged a cultural tension that resonated on both a universal and cultural level and focused on the platforms where they wanted those conversations to happen.
When the ad for "The World's Toughest Job" went viral, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. By tapping into a very human emotion around motherhood, American Greetings was able to strike a chord across generations of consumers.
Don't underestimate younger generations
Millennials and following generations have gotten a bad rap. These digitally-raised cohorts are typically stereotyped as being lazy and unwilling to support brands and causes they care about in a meaningful way.
In fact, in a study with the Ad Council, we found that instead of handing over money, younger generations prefer action-oriented ways of getting involved in causes and brands they care about. Just take a look at the ALS Bucket Challenge. The organization anchored their campaign around an action-oriented task which then led to a voluntary donation. This approach sparked a massive community-led movement that impacted the cause in a truly meaningful way.
When engaging incoming generations, brands can't rely on what they once thought to be true -- you must evolve your strategies to appeal to consumers' sense of community and duty.
Adopt an open-door policy
Think about the way you interact with brands today. Yes, you may see a brand-created ad on TV or online, but what's far more striking, not to mention trustworthy, is the constant chatter that surrounds a brand among your network in social. According to Crowdtap research, user-generated content (UGC) is 40 percent more trusted than content from traditional media sources. Over half of Millennials polled in the same study said that UGC influences their purchase decision over traditional media and banner ads.
So create ways for consumers to tell your brand story in an organic and authentic manner. Companies that allow for this will not only foster a more open and enriching brand, but also gain the trust of current and potential fans.