As a direct result of Web 2.0 and media fragmentation, consumers have dissed advertisers. Specifically, they’ve dis-integrated marketing. Over the years, advertisers accumulated and adopted new media for their messages, and their agencies worked to integrate all of them around a common look, feel and tone. All of which made a ton of sense in a push media environment; in the best cases, common elements made the sum of all these integrated parts greater than the whole. Advertisers appreciated and encouraged the growth and perfection of integrated marketing.
Consumers however, had their own ideas. They may understand that commercials are the tax they pay to enjoy free entertainment, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. So in recent years, as the internet and DVR’s and DVD boxed sets allowed them to consume media of their own choosing from specialized niche programming channels on their own schedule and terms, they quickly adopted new platforms and technologies. Even as advertisers worked to integrate marketing, consumers effectively dis-integrated it.
This is one reason social marketing experts are so loathe to use the “campaign” word; traditional campaigns are hardly adequate to span our hyper-fragmented, disintegrated media environment: an environment extending far beyond paid media to include earned media like recommendation and word of mouth.
That’s also the key reason why the means to organize and link all of this dis-integrated marketing lies in brand missions. Not simply brand stories–those inform the mission, but are not enough by themselves. We consider advertising an active verb–communication that works, that creates, that does something; specifically, Element 79 thinks it should Incite Interaction. That’s why a brand mission makes sense–it’s something to do. Somewhere in the intersection between the authentic brand story and the relevant consumer truth lies the brand mission.
Once you determine that, once you define it and make it real and begin seeding it across all of your paid media, consumers begin to understand the brand’s mission and what it means. And if your insights are correct and your brand truths are genuine, they take up that mission on their own and begin spreading it on the brand’s behalf. And disintegrated marketing no longer looms as a scary threat. Because now people can rally around an idea, which travels much further than an execution. And they can adopt missions, which they take in much deeper than mere messages.
All of which means that today, the ultimate question for agencies is: “Do you know your brand’s mission?”