Meaning the key to brand survival

By Sarah Trombetta | Sponsored

People wouldn’t care if 77% of brands simply disappeared. Red Havas Australia CEO Sarah Trombetta reveals how delivering on the three things every consumer wants can take a brand from expendable to indispensable.

In 2019, when almost 8 in 10 brands could vanish and no one would care, brands have to work harder than ever before to hold their ground among the 23% of brands that are indispensible to people’s lives.
The perfect storm of a trust crisis, a delivery deficit between what consumers want and what brands are delivering, and the rise of the experience economy (where content and value-added services are expected but most fail to connect) means you simply can’t spend your way into solving today’s brand challenges.
Meaning and the ability to create meaningful connections with consumers are the key to the future of brands.
The problem is, most brands are falling short. Why? Because they’re not listening to what consumers really want, to earn a place in culture.

What makes a meaningful brand?

It’s a question every organisation needs to not only answer, but deliver on, to survive. Havas has spent 10 years decoding what makes brands meaningful to people in the largest study of its kind globally. Insights from our Meaningful Brands Report reveal that meaningful brands deliver three things:
Functional benefits — brands that deliver the products and services they say they will
Personal benefits — brands that improve people’s lives
Collective benefits — brands that play a positive role in society.
This is where the delivery deficit kicks in. While people may get the product or service they pay for, in most cases, their personal needs aren’t being met, and they’re dubious about brand purpose and values. People question whether brands are really contributing to society, or just talking the talk. Putting the right focus on brand communication is equally important to reassure consumers that a brand is living up to increasing expectations.

Leading with purpose goes mainstream

Buying has become a political and ethical act. Consumers expect brands to be actively involved in solving social and environmental problems. With trust in government, news and media hitting record lows, most people (55%) believe companies play a more important role than governments in creating a better future.
Consumers are looking for shared values. Three in four consumers will favour brands that stand for something. And it can be just as important to stand against issues too. Sitting on the fence won’t cut it in Australia anymore — brands with CEOs and CMOs leading with purpose as a voice for change are earning and preserving their place in culture.
But, purpose needs to be more than a token gesture. It needs to be authentic. Most people say brands should be transparent about their commitments and promises; only one in three believe they are. The most resilient brands lead with purpose and values. To join them, brands need to shift from having a brand purpose, to acting with purpose.

Harnessing the power of people matters

Consumers expect more from brands than a product: 63% of baby boomers, 76% of Gen X, 84% of Millennials and 87% of Gen Z believe brands need to create more interesting, useful or meaningful content and value-added services, beyond their usual offer.
While the ‘more’ varies by industry, the underlying principle remains true across generations. People want content from brands, in fact 90% expect it, whether that be experiences, solutions, entertainment, stories or events. They want to be inspired, entertained, educated, informed, helped or rewarded. But, most brand content (58%) fails to meet expectation.
As 85% of consumers worry about dimishing trust (Havas Prosumer Report, 2019), authenticity and context matter most. Brands that harness the power of trusted voices — as creators, storytellers and channels — can take content beyond category clutte, creating meaningful connections.

Creating a meaningful conversation

A brand’s story needs to create a two-way value exchange. For Red Havas’ clients, that means starting with a data-inspired Meaningful Conversation Idea (MCI) to design compellingly shareable stories, connections and experiences that communicate the right blend of benefits as part of a cultural narrative.
Driving share of conversation, where people expect to engage with content, creates the type of meaningful connections that share of voice simply can’t match. Being heard because you’re the loudest doesn’t build connection; earning people’s attention does.
And the more meaningful the brand, the greater the share of wallet. Meaningful brands generate significantly higher KPIs, with overall impressions, positive sentiment, purchase/repurchase intent, advocacy and action all indexing highest.

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Top tips to start a meaningful conversation with consumers
1 Lead with your purpose and values, to be a voice for positive change in culture.
2 Harness the power of people to create authentic, meaningful brand content that connects.
3 Create an ecosystem of trusted voices — from executives to influencers with shared values — to channel your stories and experiences where it matters.
4 Design brand experiences to deliver meaningful moments that improve people’s lives.
5 Measure share of conversation around the storytelling pillars that create meaning — functional, personal and collective benefits.

Beko’s journey to meaning more in ANZ
For category leaders, all is at stake to stay indispensable. Red Havas’ Brisbane team is working with Beko, one of Europe’s leading household appliance companies, to shape its future as a meaningful brand in ANZ.
Beko’s strong postioning and global success has been grounded in communicating functional and personal benefits, with a line up of innovative, energy efficient, high quality products. However to take on Australia’s most established white goods brands on home soil the brand needed to play a positive role in improving lives in local communities.
Leading with its purpose and values, Beko became a voice for change in the cultural conversation around childhood obesity with its ‘Eat Like A Pro’ campaign.
‘Eat Like A Pro’ mobalised sports role models to start a meaningful conversation, empowering communities to sustain healthy lifestyles; because communities with a conscience inspire healthy and happy households.
The brand created a powerful value exchange for families, fueled by inspiring and educational brand content in social media and grassroots activations in schools and sports associations, driving record share of conversation and doubling spontaneous brand awareness to set a new global benchmark for Beko.
The future starts now
As consumers look for meaningful connections, and hold brands accountable to step up and deliver, the future is clear for Australia’s most ambitious companies — it is centred on meaningfulness, driven by data and creativity, to earn their place as indispensible in people’s lives.
People-powered storytelling, connections and expeiences are the most potent way to tackle the delivery deficit, and tell a brand story that communicates the functional, personal and collective benefits that create meaningful brands — not the things brands think people they want.

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