Brand power and emotion - IPG's Society MD on 2015 goals

Nicola Swankie, Society MD
By Nicola Swankie, Society MD | 7 January 2015

I’m writing this on what will, for many of us, be the first week back of the year. It’s a time where we either try and find a way to subtlety ease our way back into it or for many of us we return with renewed energy and vigor for the year ahead. Excitement of what might be ahead of us.

A staple of this time of year are the trends reports, helping us predict what may be ahead of us in the year to come. To help us stay ahead of the game, forward plan what resources we may need or changes in approach we may need to consider, see where there could be some commercial opportunity and also be able to advise our clients on the same.

It is always very hard to predict and harder to know for sure, we either end up with safe, high level concepts on the lists, or way out there trends which could very well have faded away by March. So this year I have gone for a slightly different tact with writing my 2015 trends prediction, instead of trying to guess what we all need to be doing and thinking about, I have selfishly thought about what I would like to see happen in marketing in 2015. What I would personally like to be a part of, but also what I believe would help move us forward as an industry.

1 – To lead with our hearts. To make this the year where we truly see a shift from transactional-based marketing to more engaging and emotional through brands looking deeply at their purpose and connecting with people through that.

This is a big reason why I work in marketing, because I get a thrill out of seeing the emotion it can evoke in people. I was reminded of this when talking to my mum on Skype the other night and she was warmly explaining the Thomson Holidays ad that has been on TV back there where a small sad teddy bear escapes the grey and misery of the British life to ‘discover his smile’ on holiday. Which was exactly the emotion it evoked in my mum, as she smiled down the computer screen at me as she told me the story. So thank you Thomson for making my mum smile and she’ll probably book a holiday with you this year because of that.

When we lead with our heart it is art, and art is something we all appreciate in our worlds. We all have the power as communicators to engage people, we have the privilege of reaching them everyday. What do we want to do with that ability?

2 - To see brands change the world, even just a little bit. I was utterly inspired by the Nike Girl Effect in 2014.

For me this is the future of brand marketing. While a brand can evoke an emotion through some great insightful storytelling, it has far more dramatic impact on us when it does something that truly matters. Either helping us, our community, or like Nike – having a bigger impact on the world and our future. This is the kind of substance that really deserves earned media, that gets people talking about brands positively and choosing them because of what they stand for. Brands that have boldness and great purpose, brands that want to make a social difference are the brands I want to work on.

3 – To build appreciated relationships. Again I am looking at this through a softer and more emotional lens, but this is really where I see technology and data have a massive impact on driving us forward. No different to us building relationships in the real world, when we get to know people better we have deeper connections. Through data, targeting, personalisation giving people something they truly appreciate, when and where they need it. It’s the next level of utility and it’s the type of understanding that spurs that brand love.

So that’s my three thoughts for 2015 and if I can look back on 2015 having personally achieved projects that deliver to any of the above three points I’ll be satisfied I have helped move our industry to a better, more engaging place where brands lead with their purpose and their hearts, change the world and are loved by the people who connect with them.

 Nicola Swankie, Society MD

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