A political leader was seen doing something that seemed rather humble. However, my initial admiration for the leader evaporated when I realized it was a stunt for an election campaign.
Likewise, in our quest to build brands, it bears a weight on our shoulders as practitioners, to remember that stunts may be fun or even seemingly effective in the short-term, but we need to really focus on slowly and steadily building sustainable brands.
Marketing stunts can be engaging and even viral in outreach, but cannot be the panacea to anything, and certainly not in building a sustainable brand. Stunts should be seen as the spices that lift the taste of a dish, or the ikebana in the greater household, and nothing more.
In branding, as with public relations, there are some points to keep in mind:
1) Start big. To establish a new brand, or to rekindle a stagnant one, we have to think loud, think big, think wide, think far. Small and negligible launch campaigns will be akin to a matchstick – the tiny flame fizzles out quickly, and no one remembers. Spend wisely on as big and as creative a launch campaign you can stomach. Typical big launches can be multimedia events, leveraging on large scale events, video livestreaming, social media, and even mobile campaigns.
2) Keep going. A sustainable brand cannot be built by mere sparkles, but with a militant and disciplined approach to communication and outreach. Plan your budget, schedule, programs, and human capital carefully, so that your voice, your brand, your people, can all be heard and seen for a long time. When you run out of products to announce, look more creatively to what else you can do. Too many companies look narrowly only at product announcements, and forget that the traction of a brand often depends on people. Your people may have profound and enlightening perspectives that the public and the stakeholders can benefit from. Your company may also have great leadership and business processes that others can learn from. There are many ways to reach out to the public through communication, and not just products. This area is often achieved through sustained public relations and advertising.
3) Excite periodically. All of us enjoy excitement, once in a while. We can never imagine a life so bland that we need to watch the ticking hands of a wall clock. We would however, enjoy an occasional spark here and there. Therefore, a sustainable brand, aside from a loud launch at the beginning, and a sustained communication program, will benefit from occasional and well-timed stunts now and then. Stunts should be tasteful, and can benefit from good decent humor. Some of the best stunts leverage on new media, especially video, and perhaps memes and infographics.
There is nothing wrong with impactful stunts done right. I strongly recommend them. However, a sustainable brand is built through long-term efforts.
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.