Brand building ain't what is used to be

Atomic212 CEO Jason Dooris

One of my favourite brands at the moment is GoPro. Every week I’m sucked into one of the 6,000 GoPro-tagged videos that are being placed on YouTube every day. It’s an impressive number – that’s 2.2 million videos a year.

Every single one of them is telling a story about the GoPro brand – a story of adventure and excitement, and about the limits of human potential.

Not only is GoPro an example of outstanding use of content marketing and user generated content, it’s a prime case study of how brand building has changed.

In the past, brand building was largely about associating a product or service with certain values through a one-way tunnel that battered consumers over the head and forced a message down their throat.

You’d often find a brand’s marketing message and values had absolutely no connection with the company behind it – most companies didn’t ‘live’ the story they were telling.

How the times have changed. With the growth of social media and content marketing, brand building has transformed. At the centre of everything is ‘storytelling’.

To be fair, storytelling has been a central pillar of humanity since the caveman drew stick figures on the walls of his cave. From the moment companies began imbuing their products with brand values, storytelling was always a central component.

But the way we tell these stories to build a brand has changed - there are so many companies and so much clutter that merely telling people about a product won’t get cut-through.

Brands need to tell their stories, and these stories need to be interesting and engaging. These stories need to live across multiple platforms. They need to be participatory.

Companies can no longer simply tell people about their brand and its values, they need to be engaging consumers, and telling their brand’s story alongside their customers.

Of course, marketers are still the custodians of their own brands. But in the modern marketing environment, brands are involved in endless two-way conversations. GoPro is a perfect case study. But there are countless others. The obvious example is social media, but think more broadly than that.

For instance, brands engage with their consumers by developing communities or by creating content that engages broadly with their customers’ interests.

Take a look at Adobe’s content hub CMO which stands apart from the brand and acts as an independent source of news and information; or Coca-Cola’s global publishing business ‘Coca-Cola Journey’, which is launched back in 2012, and which positions the brand as a genuine storyteller.

Brand building has changed. Companies are increasingly recognising the influence that comes with telling stories, and the power of participating in their customers’ worlds. This is exactly why GoPro has become a master of story creation, and why GoPro is the brand everyone is talking about.

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