In marketing and communications, the inspiring brands to work for are those driven by purpose, i.e.: Dove, Nike, Oreo, among others. The approach to brand strategy is founded on the creation of a set of beliefs / values that the brand will stand for, and the target audience will be defined as a group of people in loose agreement with those beliefs and values. The main role of marketing and communications is disseminating stories that show people what those beliefs are, and that create a connection between the brand and people through those shared values. Finally, the brand may take one step further, and transform those beliefs into actual behaviors, with a real effect in the consumers’ world.
The most interesting brands are those driven by value, i.e.: Airbnb, Uber, Casper and similar. These brands approach strategy as the delivery of unlimited value to people through deliberated action. The target audience will be defined by a behavior: a need or an expectation, implicit or explicit. The role of marketing and communications will be the design of experiences that deliver an immediate and meaningful benefit, creating a strong connection between the brand and people based on the value shared.
These brands heighten consumer expectations: consumers look for brands transmitting both, a meaningful purpose shared with a meaningful group of people, and also marketing and communications that deliver value to consumers. This value is not always purely utilitarian or functional, we are talking about delivering value through currency, by entertaining, by providing interesting or useful content, by supporting their community of interest, or by contributing to an important conversation.
For brands to succeed on this high level of consumer expectation, there are two keys: 1) the formulation of their purpose as a commitment to a behavior (instead of just a belief) and 2) the ability to extend their product / service experience and delivery of value across their marketing and communications.
Expanding on the second key, the conventional definition of brand value is grounded on the ability of a brand to create desire, differentiation, exclusivity and/or scarcity. We are proposing a new definition of brand value, based on creating meaning, utility, access and abundance: the kind of value that you create by delivering “actual value” to people before they consume/use your brand instead of creating an “expectation of value” towards the consumption / usage of your brand / service.
By integrating the product/service value with its marketing & communications (instead of making marketing and communications a “separate” activity), we will find a more sustainable marketing system: marketing becomes a growth engine, instead of a cost because it is building brand value by creating value for people.