Last week I had the privilege of attending a digital strategy event in San Francisco. It was a gathering of some of the largest, most influential brands in North America.
As I sat in the brand strategy track, it struck me how many companies were using religious language and imagery to describe their product experience.
Take a listen.
Zipcar is a car sharing company that seeks to enable simple, responsible urban living. This innovative company is dependent upon other members to deliver a quality service because there are no Zipcar attendants to wash, clean and fill up cars when they are returned. What made me take note was this by Brian Harrington: “we are not a national company but a federation of local communities” and they expect their members to “do certain things to be a part of the community.”
Specialized and authenticity
The best presentations at #DigitalSF were those by people who “lived their brand” and Frank Aldorf lives the Specialized brand. In fact, you can’t work at Specialized unless you embody the brand. One of the interview questions is, “Do you ride?” If you don’t, no matter how talented you are in your field, you can’t work there. Building an authentic brand is that important to them. Frank made this clear in one of his branding principles, “only if you believe can others follow you.”
The NFL has 185 million fans in the US and those fans spend an average of 13+ hours a WEEK engaged with the brand. They start cultivating those fans at the age of 6. The NFL is one of the most successful brands in the world, but what do they do with teams that stink? They build their team brands around an experience, not around winning. Jamie Weston described the NFL’s North Star this way: Intense, Meaningful, Unifying. They build a passionate group of followers forged around an epic experience. Sounds pretty grand for a game, doesn’t it?
Maria Surricchio had me most interested when she said that PS4 wants to be “a guiding light.” PS4 answers the questions of “Who am I?,” “Why am I here?” and “How should I behave?” through providing the most immersive play possible. “People crave the extraordinary in a life that is ordinary,” Maria said and PS4 is there to provide it. Everybody wants to be a hero, right? Every hero needs an epic adventure.
These brands are doing an amazing job of telling a story about their products and giving people a place to partake. But I couldn’t help asking myself, “Really?! You do this?”
Krista Treide probably had the most transparent moment of #DigitalSF. She started Nike’s fashion line and grew it to a $1,000,000,000 business in just a few years. Big time. Half way through her talk she said this, though:
I woke up one morning and realized that everything I was doing lacked meaning.
Wow. She came to the end of her brand’s story. As a result, she quit her job in industry and founded…
Made For Good and social good
Made for Good helps companies integrate meaningful, organic social good into the business model. She referenced two projects she’s consulted as examples of this: Every Monday Matters and The Intersection.
Do you have a story to tell? Is it compelling? Transformational? Epic? Unifying? Dangerous? Disruptive? Good?
Frank from Specialized had a great quote,
The most valuable real estate in the world is the corner of someone’s mind.
There is A LOT out there competing for the corner of people’s mind and hearts. We are ambassadors (brand managers in today’s language?) of the gospel. It is the most compelling, disruptive, epic story that we are invited into.