Your Brand Needs to Take More Risks with Its Messaging

June 27, 2016

3:45 pm

Netflix recently launched a campaign in France encouraging fans to face swap with characters from their most popular shows. The Face Swapping trend is relatively new but has really blown up in the first half of 2016. By utilizing this online fad, Netflix were able to raise brand awareness, both in locations where the posters were set, but more importantly online, while getting users to share their content.

This kind of “flash-mob”, blink and you’ll miss it, style of advertising was a success for Netflix, but not all brands do so well. Especially with recent celebrity events, some brands have been labelled as opportunistic, or worse, as taking advantage of a situation. Chevrolet, for example, attempted to pay tribute to Prince following his passing through a Little Red Corvette tribute ad. Though this found some success as a touching tribute, others thought it was an insensitive usurping of his passing for clicks.

With mixed results abounding, should you brand be taking risks and engaging with these online trends?

Your Content Has to Match Your Brand Voice

Whether a brand should engage with the latest digital trend, be it face swapping, #puddlewatch or something entirely different, depends largely on the company’s “voice”. This is the tone that goes into all of your content, be it blogs, your website copy or social media.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to your current style. There is always room for reinvention, as is the nature of modern trends – they come and go with surprisingly regularity and speed.

By usurping the expectations of your brand voice, you can have great success, but be careful how you change and how much. You’ll know from your industry if you’re brand has room to be more colloquial, often these are brands working in fashion, marketing, advertising or new media. Sectors where the new and the now are key.

Even trade companies wouldn’t be thought unprofessional if spotted using a little wordplay. But would jumping on the latest #hashtag make you look desperate? Finance and Face Swapping don’t naturally match up, but Facebook and food stalls do. Think about your relatability and what your audience wants from you.

Cater to Your Audience’s Passions and Pastimes

Whatever your brand is, you should have a strong idea of who your audience is. It is the basis for any successful business after all. If you’re marketing in the digital realms you’ll be able to more easily quantify that audience by their stats through analytical tools on Google, Facebook and Twitter.

If you don’t have ready data, get some! Tech industries will be more familiar with tools like Google Analytics, but every business can get access to it – as long as they have a website. Failing that, keep records of your clients or ask them to fill out optional questionnaires. Data gathering is time consuming but worth it if you can better understand your audiences and tailor your engagement to their interests.

Once you have your audience, you can cater to their preferences. If a huge portion of your audience are pop music lovers then find a way to ride the Lemonade train, if they’re middle aged, small business owners, offer them advice for getting the most from their spend. IF you work in the catering industry and your audience are foodies, then embrace the food porn of Instagram.

Some angles will be better suited to real time platforms, like social media, others can work for static content on your site. By understanding how your audience interacts with your brand online, you’ll have a better understanding of how they’ll receive your engagement with online trends.

Integrate Real Life with Your Digital Campaign

One of the reasons the Netflix campaign worked so well is that it took place both on the ‘real world’ and the digital one.

This can be done in a variety of ways. Augmented reality has proven to be a powerful marketing tool an incredibly useful marketing tool, such as QR codes. You can use it to create location specific experiences or have an interactive stand at a conference or trade show.

If you are a shop or a restaurant, have something at your store locations that will encourage foot traffic to take their experience online for others to see. Whether it’s a Netflix style face swap poster, a photo booth that shares the images online or a competition as to who can take the best Instagram photograph of your famous dish, each interaction has to be skewed to your audience, how they want to interact with your and who you brand is.

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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