The advertising paradox

The relationship between advertising and branding is changing rapidly at the moment – but not because of clients and their agency’s activity. Because of what customers are doing.

Advertising has two primary roles, to boost revenues and to boost brand awareness. All well and good, except that the public are developing selective blindness to advertising messages. Their abilities to block adverts either subconsciously, or through preference settings or through technology, are getting steadily stronger.

Paradoxically, despite this increasing blindness, customers are talking more about your brand than they ever have talked before.

How is this? Well, previously, the voice of your customers would only be heard through focus groups, surveys, letters of complaint or through the customer service channel. All of which are semi-controlled environments. Over the last few years the voice of the customer has grown from a relative whisper to a reverberating roar. Look at the websites, discussion groups and forums talking about you that are completely beyond your control. This roar is all about you! Your business, your products and your services. And if you want to be involved, you effectively have to ask permission and behave in a very open and discreet manner.

This is the advertising paradox. The more customers block out your adverts, the more they are talking about your business. If they love or hate what you do then they want to talk about it – but on their terms and not yours.

What they are actually discussing is the experience that they are having with your company, your products and services. They are talking about your brand experience. This is the change that I talk about.

In future it won’t be advertising that drives revenues and develops the brand, it will be your brand experiences that will get people talking about you. Your brand experiences will be delivering the message – not your advertising.

So, you need to make the advertising paradox work for you, not against you. If you want to influence people’s thinking then you need to design your service so that you deliver an amazing customer experience, and also that it beautifully reflects your brand values. Once you do this your competitors can’t copy them. Functional Branding is all about creating branded experiences. We see it as the future of branding. More on this soon…

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