We’ve heard it before. Brands need to be more human if they want to survive – or at least thrive. They (brands) need to connect with people, and not just in the traditional sense. Brands need to discover what it takes to be part of their customers’ lives and to truly make an impact. Brands need to adopt an empathetic, flexible, humorous tone in order to become “human.” Unfortunately, some have taken this either a little far, or have become, well, lazy in their attempts to connect. That, or they just don’t truly understand what being human means. As a result, we’ve got brands who try to force a square into a circular hole – unsuccessfully engaging in youth-culture or chiming in where they feel it is their responsibility. Where do we go from here?
Every month, TrendWatching.com delivers Global Trend Briefings sent to over 250,000 business professionals looking to stay on the leading edge of consumer engagement. This month, TrendWatching.com clues us in to how brands can, and must, evolve to meet consumer demand, surpassing the level of being “human,” and becoming “enlightened.” Consumer expectations are rapidly evolving, and now, your customers are looking for brands that are “taking real, meaningful, even painful, action to make their lives – and the world we share – better.”
So, what makes an enlightened brand?
According to this month’s Global Trend Briefing, enlightened brands have 3 characteristics: Restless, Empathetic and Demanding.
A restless brand is one that is always looking for new opportunities to engage consumers and to do their part to make the world a better place. In today’s market, you can’t sit still and you can’t become content. In order to be a restless brand on you path to becoming enlightened, you need to constantly be learning more about your audience or your target consumer. You need to research what it is that makes them tick and what is important to them (not just in a product, but in life) so that you can be involved and make an impact. As quoted in the briefing, 63% of consumers say that they only buy products that appeal to their beliefs, values and ideals*. What are you doing to meet that expectation?
“63% of consumers say that they only buy products that appeal to their beliefs, values and ideals.”
Empathetic brands are those who have done their homework and truly understand their consumer’s values. Not only do empathetic brands understand, but they can start to connect and “address customer pain points.” That means using the research you’ve collected to pay attention to what’s going on in the world and find what is important to your customers. Once you find that, you can insert your brand into that situation. But, remember. You’re there to provide value to your customers, not to take advantage and gain exposure.
As an example of an empathetic brand, check out how Mophie combined support for a St. Bernard rescue foundation with addressing customer pain points at SXSW. Trained dogs were deployed to bring SXSW goers Mophie gear to help charge their depleting battery-powered devices. Read more here.
And finally, demanding brands are those who help their consumers meet their own standards. Sometimes, the beliefs and values of your customers won’t exactly match up with who they actually are. So, it’s up to you as a demanding brand to nudge them in the right direction. Show them the way to becoming a better version of themselves by rewarding their good behavior (although that sounds kind of Pavlovian). By offering reward for their participation in a certain activity or support of a cause, it shows that you are truly committed and it’s at that moment that you’ve earned their trust.
The Peruvian League Against Cancer found a way to coax beach goers out of the sun, at least for a little break, by offering free wifi on the sand to anyone who is under the cover of their shade tower. Forcing consumers to take a break from the sun reinforces the League’s mission against cancer. See how they did it here.
Now that you know what it takes to be an enlightened brand, it’s time to graduate from just being human. Following the path outlined in TrendWatching’s briefing, you’ll be on the path to success. To download the briefing for yourself, click here.
What do you think about the enlightened trend? Are you currently taking any steps to make it happen? Let me know in the comments below or connect on Twitter – @HOOKDin! If you’re interested in receiving more tips and insights into building a strong brand, be sure to subscribe!