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Ignite Your Brand Movement in 2016: The 3 Keys

Happy New (Opportunity To Transform Your Brand) Year!

If you're a marketer, it's going to be a great 2016 if you commit to not just building your brand – but creating a movement.

The keys to unlocking the culture-penetrating, conversation-creating power of your movement are "The 3 I's." 

Idea. Can you easily articulate (in a single sentence) the big, own-able idea that defines your brand? Is it based on an insights-driven strategy that separates and elevates your brand from the competition? Is it brought to life in an active rallying cry that consumers embrace and want to make their own?

If you're thinking "Think Different," or "Just Do It," or "What's in your wallet?" (full disclosure, I wrote that last one)  then you're on the right track.

Put plainly:

  • When you begin with a big idea, you can tell your most compelling story...
  • When you tell your most compelling story, you deeply engage your audience...
  • When you deeply engage your audience, you create a relationship...
  • When you create a relationship, you move from "marketing (trying to buy a contrived conversation) to "movement" (being part of a real conversation).

Which conversation do you prefer?

Influence. I usually begin this part with a question: "If you're looking for a car mechanic to do a good job and not rip you off, are you more likely to seek out and be influenced by an ad or by the recommendation of a friend who is a serious gear head?"

That rhetorical question illustrates the compelling power of influence in our lives – and telegraphs its transformative potential for brands.

However, before you can craft a successful brand influencer strategy, you need to know why some influencer campaigns work better than others. The most high-performing campaigns are defined by these shared elements:

  • Authentic Partnership. Partnering with an influencer who has an authentic, shared interest in the values of your brand (as opposed to a cynical, purely transactional interest) will be rewarded with less skepticism and greater engagement from your audience.

A good example: Stephen Curry, NBA champion and league MVP, is an influencer for Brita Water filters (a brand that delivers purified, healthy hydration). This relationship is supremely relevant, totally credible, and will help benefit both the Brita and Stephen Curry brands. 

On the other hand: There’s Blake Griffin, huge NBA star, trying to convince us that his ride is a Kia Optima. Supremely irrelevant, totally unbelievable and, to add insult to injury, social media is now awash in photos of Blake with his actual wheels (a $140k Mercedes).

  • Special Access. An influencer's audience is passionate and highly knowledgeable about this person. Telling them what they already know is not a winning strategy. To create worthwhile engagement, your brand must provide the audience with access in the form of content that puts them "in-the-know" (ahead of their friends) or with experiences never available to them before.

When the team at my agency recently launched Cracker Jack'D, a new Frito Lay snack targeted to millennial males, we built an integrated influencer partnership with extreme sports star, Travis Pastrana – but based it on the new, first-time launch of his “Nitro Circus” arena tour.

Having the brand as the vehicle through which the audience experienced something totally new – and compelling engagement through a content-driven digital and social campaign– this new Frito Lay snack ended the year #1 in its category.

Integration.  It has been called cross-platform, multi-platform, but I simply call it what it is: The “New Mass Media.”

When we re-launched the Mr. Coffee brand in fall, 2015, we developed the brand idea (“Great in the Making”) and brought it to life through aninfluence program that included partnerships with HGTV; interior designer and TV personality, Brian Patrick Flynn; and multiple lifestyle bloggers.

However, the campaign's integration – grounded in the New Mass Media – was the key to making it all work.

Through a content-driven program that leveraged the digital, social and live platforms of the Mr. Coffee brand and its influencer partners, we were able to re-launch Mr. Coffee by leveraging the brand's own-able heritage as the maker of the original – and continually most innovative – home brewing systems.

By reclaiming the brand's birthright as the ultimate "maker," we sought to provoke (with every execution) an "Aha!" moment rooted in a simple, powerful truth: Coffee can't taste great unless you make it great. 

Bottom line: With a big idea, an engagement-extending influence program, and a progressive integration plan, your brand can succeed – and even punch well above its weight. This approach will also engage more people in your community to punch along with you.

That's how you move from building a brand to creating a movement.

Let “The 3 I’s” lead the way.

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