Feed me: The never-ending need for content. ~ Brand Mix

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feed me: The never-ending need for content.

Remember Audrey II from the Little Shop of Horrors? It's the plant that feeds on human blood and wants to take over the world.

For marketers there is a little bit of Audrey about social media. It's a little intimidating, a little bit out of control and it has a voracious appetite. But since it has mainly succeeded in taking over the world, marketers are having to learn how to deal with this particular monster opportunity.

One problem for marketers is that they have not typically been making the right kind of "blood." This Audrey feeds on rich content and is not going to settle for a diet of "whiter than white," functionally-based fare. That stuff's not digestible--it's not something you can really have a conversation about.

The marketers that are making the most headway are those that have found a way to "ladder up" from a pure functional benefit into something that can be expressed in a way that transcends function.

Perhaps the best-known example of a brand climbing up the ladder is Dove, launched by Unilever back in 1957 as a beauty bar. Its functional benefit is that it does not dry out your skin (proof point: because it's not soap). An important and differentiating benefit but a bit of a yawner from a social media perspective. But once the connection was made between Dove's roots as a beauty bar and current stereotypes about beauty, that opened up a new way to talk about the brand, one that is relevant to the social media space. The video, Evolution, that showed the time-lapsed face of a young woman transformed by cosmetics and Photoshop techniques into drop-dead gorgeous was a YouTube smash hit, watched around 10 million times.

Not all brands have the same potential to ladder up or can ladder up so far. Commodity brands that lack any differentiating raw material, for example, may struggle. Brands that are just the "biggest" or the "cheapest" may be similarly challenged. But for many brands, it will be possible to take that kernel of differentiation and turn into something that will be a real tasty morsel.

1) Brand Digital (Chapter 2: The Importance of Relevant Differentiation): Allen Adamson
2) My Contagious Interview: Grant McCracken
3) Want to beat up the Dove? Take a ticket: Brand Mix

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