What if brands took the place of governments in our lives?
Before you run away too far with that thought, let us clarify.
What would happen if brands were to offer bigger picture services for us that actually fill the gaps of needs in our lives? Think value-based services vs. products created to sit on a shelf.
Just this past week, several brands have done things that are much higher than the base-level idea of their products. Airbnb announced a plan to offer housing on a wider scale to those displaced by disaster, whether natural or due to political instability. Marriott said it would be looking into offering communal apartments. This morning alone, IBM Watson got its first gig fighting cyber threats.
Welcome to the bigger picture of product offering.
This is what captured our minutes this week.
1. The conversation about living by your values is actually starting to show some value.
We know: if you had a dollar for every time you went to a keynote and a speaker told you to live by your values, you’d be really rich. Us too.
But here’s the thing: people still don’t know what it means to do it. They see the financial benefit in doing it. That it’ll make people short-term more interested in their brand and score them theoretical brownie points.
Long-term however, it doesn’t sustain any positive merit because it’s not genuine. Customers have more knowledge and power than whatever. Translate that, and basically they can see right through your shi*t.
Customers know when you’re being fake and they can smell someone just trying to put on a halo for a good photo-op. So just don’t bother. If you can’t muster the energy to put actions where your words are, you might as well just pipe down.
But the above examples are brands who believe in big ideas and are consequently supporting those ideas in big ways.
Let’s take a stab at a brand belief for Airbnb: we believe that no matter who you are or where you’re from, you deserve to feel at home.
So they offer a service for travellers to book other people’s homes to stay in, instead of the less personal experience of staying at a hotel.
But, presumably, Airbnb asked why stop there? If they truly think ‘no matter who or where’ then it must extend to every possible situation, including refugees.
The great thing about not just thinking dollar-first but thinking value-first, is that it generates trust. Customers won’t look at Airbnb and think “just another corporation trying to make an earning.”
They’ll instead see a brand that is actually thinking about what their customers need.
2. These are the trailblazers who are thinking with the future in mind.
We’re not talking 5-year plans. We’re talking about brands thinking about how the future will change the way we live and accordingly, the needs we have.
So IMB Watson’s first job. Cyber security is a hot topic lately, especially with the political climate evolving on a day-by-day basis while the US adapts to its new presidency. Theoretically, governments, and even big brands who want the extra security, will need an army of people to sift through all the data related to cyber threats.
IBM Watson takes what one person can do in several hours and do it in minutes, multiple times.
Then, Creative Review (based out of the UK) featured Design Museum’s NEW OLD show, which tasked Future Facility with designing a “future-proofed home environment.” The result? The Amazin Apartment, which is loosely based off of the idea that a brand like Amazon could help housing by creating an apartment where every need is catered to.
Essentially, Amazon could use all its data about consumers’ needs to make sure they are met before they even know they need to be met. Everything would just be made available.
No, Amazon isn’t in on this yet. But what if it was?
Thinking with the future doesn’t just future-proof consumers – it also future proofs the brand itself by giving its purpose sustainability no matter what changing times look like.
Being able to ebb and flow with time is an extremely crucial asset when it comes to lasting. There’s no use being relevant one year, and irrelevant the next.
So while some of these examples are just musings and others are just starting points, it’s important to talk about what brands can do other than shove people down a sales funnel.
The changing socio-economic context of our world is becoming less about stuff and more about the meaning of stuff.
People just sleep better at night knowing that they support brands that support positive values.
On a completely different side note: we have a runner up this week. Adele at the Grammys last night.
She stopped her tribute to George Michaels, midway through and on LIVE TV to get it right. That takes guts and speaks of commitment to quality.
This is a lesson that can be learned across the board, from big brands to our own personal brands. Kudos to you, you wonderful woman.
At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.
What will win this week?