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Strategies for Disunity

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It’s not good enough to simply understand the nature of disunity or recognize the value of empathy. We need to put our ideals and insights into practical action.

Publié dans : Marketing
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Strategies for Disunity

  2. 2. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM UNDERSTANDING DISUNITY 2 The political shocks of 2016 caught many of us off guard and revealed some uncomfortable truths that until recently most were happy to ignore. They revealed how disconnected and polarized people are, and how radically different they see the future of their communities and countries. Most critically, they revealed how powerful a force disunity has become. If the market of a year ago was at its most competitive and crowded, it’s now also become fractured along some very wide emotional and political fault lines. At The Sound, going beyond the obvious, honing in on the fringes and exploring difAicult terrain is at the heart of our philosophy. For the past year we have been exploring these fault lines to gain a deeper understanding of how disunity is affecting how people communicate with each other and how they see the world around them.
  3. 3. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 3 No Shared Narrative Hidden Feelings Universal Protest Trust Deficit People no longer share a common story and the stories they once shared are now being told in different ways. This makes it harder to communicate to entire demographics at once, but also provides an opportunity to deBine the new universal. Fear of social backlash and the politicization of everything has led many to keep their opinions private; from friends, family, and colleagues, and deAinitely from pollsters, data-scrapers and focus groups. This has resulted in a mass of opinion going unnoticed and unrecorded. Trust in government, media, NGOs and business has reached an all-time low and continues to decline. Because of this, brands are reaching a trust tipping point where one bad move can quickly alienate large segments of their audience. Protest is no longer left or right, new or old, urban or rural – it’s everywhere. It has become a daily activity that people express through conversation, on social media and wherever they spend their money. Hyper-Tribalism Cultural anxiety is leading people to abandon civic tradition and realign around new ideals. The emerging partisanship is especially pronounced among young people. Disunity applies a Ailter of conAlict to how we communicate, which means even the most innocent and simple messages can be interpreted in radically different ways depending on who you’re talking to. DISUNITED TRENDS The trends and phenomenon that have emerged from this state of disunity are not only changing how we see each other, but are having immediate effects on how people relate to brands.
  4. 4. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 4 NAVIGATING DISUNITY People have become angrier, less trusting and more eager to pick a Aight. They’ve also grown more passionate in their beliefs, and more willing to stand up for them. 
 We believe that the default tone of our lives has changed, and brands that ignore this tone shift will lose ground, while those that embrace it will thrive. There isn’t any proven formula for how to navigate this new landscape, and understanding this shift can be overwhelming, daunting and chaotic. But at The Sound we like chaos, and we’ve been embracing it for a while now. Here are 6 strategies that we’ve been working on to help you get an idea of where we’re coming from.
  6. 6. 1/ Prepare FOR BRAND ANARCHY WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM Having a campaign or product become a meme is the holy grail of earned media, but the democratization of content breeds chaos, both good and bad – the same energy that can propel your brand to virality can also condemn it to villainy. In a year where millions of casual bystanders engaged in meme warfare against multinational brands, Wendy’s was able to pull off a massive social media coup. The #Nuggsforcarter phenomenon saw a hungry 16-year-old hijack Wendy’s Twitter presence with his desperate appeal for free chicken nuggets – his original plea going on to become the most shared tweet of all time. In the end, Carter got his nuggs, and because Wendy’s embraced the anarchic nature of the event, they got their free publicity – over $7 million dollars worth. Viral events can amplify pre-existing feelings – understanding how your brand might already be in conflict with people’s values will help assess the context shaping their reactions and better prepare you for a crisis – or an opportunity. Use in-depth consumer research to uncover the unexpected ways in which people relate to your brand and its category long before an incident triggers a response. Example WENDY’S 6
  7. 7. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 7 2/ Smash YOUR BUBBLE Disunity is the problem and empathy is the solution, but empathy isn’t born from dispassionate observation – it comes from listening, action and shared experience. Go beyond secondary research and backroom monitoring and meet your core audience face to face by taking part in consumer connects. Working to break down the barrier between front and back rooms will help you better understand your audience’s POV and life story. Get out of your safe space and embrace a culture of fearless bravery when it comes to interacting with your audience. More intimacy will lead to more insight. Pantene admitted they had a problem: they’d been ignoring people. Specifically, women of color. This had been leading them towards a biased understanding of what their product was and who it was for. With their “Strong is Beautiful” campaign and newly launched “Gold Series” product line, they sought to bring about a more inclusive approach to how they do business. By acknowledging their bias and listening to new voices, they were able to celebrate all hair and build a bigger and stronger space for their brand. Example PANTENE
  8. 8. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 8 3/ Rediscover YOUR AUDIENCE If your audience was apolitical before, odds are that their politics have shifted – and these shifts may have impacted how they view your brand. You can challenge your in-house bias by running a hypothesis session on who your audience is and what they think of you. Regardless of whether or not your brand is in any way political, people are looking to sort out what side you fall on. Learn about your brand’s political nuances by conducting ethnographic work that touches on how it is viewed within the broader political matrix. Don’t shy away from integrating political understanding into your process - knowing your audience’s politics is critical to knowing how they will interpret your message. With their new campaign, Worlds Apart: An Experiment, strangers with radically different views took part in a “social experiment” to see if they could find common ground. The campaign directly confronted disunity through the voices of these individuals, forcing them to work together to solve a shared problem. By being willing to take on the reality of individual politics, Heineken positioned itself as a timely unifier. Example HEINEKEN
  9. 9. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 9 4/ Restate YOUR PURPOSE A clear, consistent and truthful purpose is the single most effective tool your brand can use to stand out against the noise of disunity. But it isn’t merely copy, tag lines or words at the start of an anthem campaign. A purpose can’t be faked or be overly engineered – it needs to come from somewhere real. To find that realness, use a purpose workshop to discover what kinds of reasons for being live within your brand’s DNA. Avoid ideas that are vague or convoluted and embrace the simple and actionable. A purpose should be easily grasped and serve as inspiration throughout the entirety of your brand and internal culture. Starbucks is a liberal brand, with liberal customers and liberal employees. By promising to support refugees, Starbucks not only stuck to their ideals, but it escalated them in the face of credible boycott threats. They were willing to alienate potential customers because they believed in what they were doing and knew their audience would back them. Example STARBUCKS
  10. 10. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 10WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COMWWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 5/ Find A COMMON ENEMY A safe approach is the surest path to indifference, while taking a political stance can lead to alienation. Focus instead on how your purpose aligns with your audience’s and help them fight back against a common enemy. Enemies are not other brands, but cultural currents or attitudes that create a tension people are living with and against. Identify your enemies by doing a cultural scan that looks at the currents that are most deeply impacting the lives of your audience. Understanding who your enemies are will allow your brand and audience work together in a tangibly meaningful way. Everyone hates a scam artist. Banks especially. With this in mind, Barclays’ “Digital Safety” campaign goes to war with fraudsters on behalf of its customers. Not just a series of ads, the campaign includes a major drive to help equip Barclays’ customers with the tools to fight back against fraud. By targeting a shared enemy, Barclays was able to connect on a deeper level with their audience, a level on which they work together to solve a common problem. Example BARCLAYS
  11. 11. Conversation marketing is crucial in attracting the elusive attention of Millennials and Gen Edge. But most brands mute their potential from day one of the research stage. Don’t just talk to advocates, embrace neutrals and skeptics as well – engaging with those who have little or negative interest in your brand will help you better understand how your messaging will fare in the real world. Understanding what the opposition thinks and how influential their arguments can be is critical. Brands that listen to a diversity of voices, even their haters, will have a better chance of defining the new universal. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 11WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COMWWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 6/ Expand THE CONVERSATION Johnnie Walker’s latest campaign, “Keep Walking America” sees the eponymous Scottish whiskey take a documentary-style trip from sea to shining sea. But it’s not the brand’s typical voices that are met along that journey: it’s ranchers, athletes, burnt-out nurses, musicians, cowboys, soldiers, and a lot of everyday Americans. Set to the lyrics of Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”, in both English and Spanish, the campaign expands the dialogue surrounding Johnnie Walker and repositions it at the new heart of a new type of Americana. Example JOHNNIE WALKER
  12. 12. WWW.THESOUNDHQ.COM 12 V A N C O U V E R | N E W Y O R K | L O N D O N | T O R O N T O | C H I C A G O | M U M B A I W W W . T H E S O U N D H Q . C O M