Even during the creation of the brands that everyone knows today, great importance was attached to telling stories to the consumer. Stories about the brand that makes it unique. This was true of Persil, Palmolive, Nivea, Bärenmarke, Dr. Oetker, Volkswagen and countless other brands that have become an integral part of our everyday lives. And yet that day is approaching: the day when familiar brands are displaced. Displaced by short-lived, digitally launched brands that come and go. The very thing that has always kept brands alive is under threat: Their sustainability. According to the GPRA Trust Index, trust in most industry sectors is declining alarmingly, brand images are losing sharpness, and loyalty among regular customers is falling. The brands are drowning in chaos.

The brands die slowly

The main problem is quickly identified. Brands indulge in short-term promotions, in price discounts, in sales measures instead of brand building and brand maintenance. And marketing chiefs, in their pursuit of quarterly results, don't see that they're destroying their brands in the process. Their brands do not die suddenly, but die very slowly. Keith Reed, chief marketing officer at Unilever, characterized the marketers' job as chaotic: "And it's going to get worse." Euthanasia is a phenomenon that is only slowly being recognized. Whereas the main tool of marketing used to be advertising, the creation of a "big idea" for the brand, later replaced by "integrated communication", today marketing measures are crumbling into countless silos, all of which have a life of their own. Media, i.e. the selection, weighting and networking of media and advertising media, was already separated from the classic advertising agency in the 1980s. This proved to be a mistake, because advertising content and media cannot be separated. Only when both areas work closely together can a campaign be successful. PR used to be pure corporate communications, sending out the company's press releases and collecting press clippings. Today, PR must be interwoven with overall brand communication and no longer work separately from it.

The Internet rolls everything down

Then the Internet rolled over companies like a steamroller. And with it, online advertising, social media, e-commerce, web design and UX (user experience), as well as the modern forms of CRM (customer relationship marketing). Not to mention the impact of the Big Data revolution. It was all simpler in the past. An advertising agency was responsible for the entire communications work: from market research to media and classic advertising to dealer communications. She had the "lead." Those days are over. Advertising agencies have let the media approach to consumers slip out of their hands and are being accused of jumping on the digital bandwagon far too late. They concealed their lack of understanding for online by buying up online agencies, but they hardly integrated them into their work.

The experiment is worth it

As a result, companies were hiring more and more experts for each specific area. Even medium-sized companies nowadays employ a variety of different agencies for advertising, package design, media, PR, digital, social media, e-commerce and now also for content strategy, i.e. for finding content that describes and differentiates the brand - for storytelling. It is almost impossible to reconcile this plethora of agencies, to get them to pull together and follow the same goal. This is because marketing lacks the time, resources and often simply the technical expertise to do so. No wonder that the result, the image that many brands present to the public, is diffuse and confusing to the point of being catastrophically bad.

Experts are not the solution

The solution is simple. A "lead agency" is needed to formulate and manage the brand strategy in coordination with the company. The advertising agencies have failed at this. No one took the media agencies' attempt to make this claim seriously. Digital agencies have been clamoring for the "lead" but have failed just as miserably. This is because media and digital lack any ability and competence for holistic brand management. So what could be more natural than to give the new discipline of content strategists a chance? They start where the brand has its core, where it is different, where it explains itself to the consumer. That's where the content is created, the stories that make the crucial difference between success and failure. There, it can be sensibly decided which content should be communicated to which target groups and via which media channels. They can succeed in winning over even the most difficult target groups such as the young "millennials" for brands.

The problem starts with the companies

The experiment is worth it. If it is to be successful, however, the companies must fulfill a decisive prerequisite: They must also monitor, develop and control their brands at a central point. Some visionary pioneers have already gone down this path. They have created the position of brand manager, ideally located above marketing and sales. One such is Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer at Procter & Gamble. At Sixt, Miriam Fohrmann watches over an army of around 50 employees who are responsible for every online channel alone. Tomorrow, only those large and small brands will survive that once again manage to control their brand strategies centrally. Finding the "content" to differentiate their brands. Telling the content and stories that keep consumers engaged. Anyone who shies away from this investment today should not be surprised about a loss of trust - and watch their brand die a slow and agonizing death.


Source: Wirtschaftswoche

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