In a recent article from AdAge "Starbucks Launches First Brand Campaign 'Meet Me at Starbucks'", Columnist Maureen Morrison explained that the coffee giant made an unusual move by not directly featuring its products in the spot. Rather it used a slice of life technique to document a day in starbucks lovers life. Shot in 59 different stores across 28 countries, the documentary demonstrated the broad appeal and universal community bond that Starbucks stands for. The touchy documentary also illustrated people from different background and different life path, but united by one single brand, and how they incorporate Starbucks as a ritual in their daily lives. The video offers a great content piece to connect its seemingly remote and unrelated customers around the world. Most importantly, with this movie, people identify themselves with others and embrace starbucks community.
Based on my assessment of above articles and draw from my experiences as a graduate student in Northwestern University Medill IMC program, here are three action items I recommend you to implement immediately to strengthen the connection with your key audiences:
- Trigger Emotions - As ad agencies are in the business of persuasion, there is nothing more important than triggering an emotion among consumers therefore create a point of difference in their mind. By making documentaries, in which nothing is staged or scripted but pure human emotions, brands connect individuals in a genuine way that every consumer can identify themselves with. This is especially true for global brand and category leader, documentaries provides a narrative that brand aficionados can reconfirm their own community and share the passion and enthusiasm they have alike the emotion embedded in the customer experience becomes the center of the conversation.
- Think of Higher Level Needs - Michael Porter said that only cost leadership and brand differentiation create value for a company. Storytelling enables brand differentiation. Brands need to create sentimental value for the audiences - not only to satisfy their physical, emotional needs, but also spiritual needs. As members of the society, people desire peer recognition and community connection. They are in a journey of constantly redefining the brand and themselves - it is not a simple consumption relationship anymore.
- No Hard Selling - The product should not be in the center stage but the people who interact with the brand and make their own story. In other words, tell the story through consumers words. The principle here is to create authentic, genuine emotions that will resonate with customers and not pushing the product directly. By helping customers to achieve their mission, brands will receive credits automatically.
Lynn Lin previously worked in global consulting firm Protiviti Inc. as a risk management consultant. Currently she is pursuing her Masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications in Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. As a aspiring strategic planner, Lynn Lin specializes in brand management and digital marketing strategy. She also holds a Bachelor degree in Business and Management from Aston University in United Kingdom.
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