Just been to an interesting Business Link event in Leeds. The speaker was Paolo Volparo who gave a talk on brand building. I don't know a lot about Paolo but I think he's had some connection with Saatchi & Saatchi. The session was advertised as "The Integration of Modern Media with Classic Advertising Principles" I'm not entirely sure that I got much on the Modern Media bit but his understanding of traditional advertising was passionate and well informed.
He's a great guy and I really appreciate his style on this subject. He had some good things to say about the need to be different and focussed on what people really need – those fundamental reasons for people wanting to engage with a product or service; reasons that advertising agancies conjour up so creatively.
Marketing departments, in my experience, have been all about
controlling the brand image uncompromisingly. In the old world you
could manage a brand in spite of the product – in fact you wondered
whether the product was really all that important! Today a the product
is at the very centre of the communication. The two brands i follow
closely are Apple and Canon, and every detail of their products are
examined on the message boards with forensic precision. So really, I
guess, the biggest threat to a brand these days is lack of control. If
the breaks on your car are faulty the whole world talks about it.
What interested me particularly was the question of emotional engagement which, from a communication point of view, is all important if we are to "connect" with people.
After his talk I discussed this point with a number of people around the tables. Social networking and the personal nature of much of the web's content – like blogging - makes the web a good platform for content that draws you close to personality. Story telling is a big part of that. I guess that's why marketing has embraced these tools as a means of getting through to customers.
The upshot of the evening is that I got a few useful contacts and may make some progress on producing some commercial video pieces aimed at breathing human personality into the brands of some local businesses, probably.