'Ephemeral': Marketing Word Of The Day

  • by September 27, 2011
Ephemeral is the word of the day at Anthropologie's "entymologie," a companion micro-site reflecting the retail platform's adventurous spirit. Here, lexicon lovers daily see a word brought to life, i.e., in a wax candle sculpture or a reminder to enjoy the summer sun. Such patterns of discovery satisfy Anthropologie consumers' exploratory natures far more than do push marketing techniques because, according to Method principal Marc Shillum, branding patterns, not repetition, influence consumer behavior.

Brands really have no choice but to ditch repetition, a holdover from outdated models that are giving way to multi-platform marketing. Marketers often preach that branding must be baked into every nook and cranny of the company, but now retail platforms are weaving in branding patterns: small, sticky ideas that communicate independently or comprise a cohesive message.

The message for brands is clear: Everything about marketing is changing. These four mantras illustrate how branding patterns shape consumer behavior.



1. Repetition is not king
An element of consistency runs throughout all branding patterns, according to Shillim's article, "Branding Is about Creating Patterns, Not Repeating Messages." Every brand reflects artifacts (i.e., logos, names, slogans, colors, icons, products) behaviors and concepts. Patterns possess the cleverness of consistency instead of the brashness of repeatedly banging consumers over the head.

California-based salon chain Drybar's name is not on every gift card, yet recipients know where to redeem their rewards. The dangling dryer logo says it all. If consumers need further clarity, saucy copy such as "Money to blow" provides clues that consumers are in for a blowout brand experience. This sense of anticipation cannot be heightened through repetition -- patterns inform consumer behavior.

2. Marketing is the brand experience
"Customers no longer separate marketing from the product -- it is the product," cites a McKinsey & Company study. "We're all marketers now." Brand experiences start before consumers approach retail platforms and brand interactions continue long after conversion thanks to social commerce and mobile technology.

Months before a new product hit stores, Apple woos consumers. Rumors about features trickle into news broadcasts and water cooler conversations. Then the product announcement comes, whipping the nation into such fervor that consumers do not mind standing in line for hours. Apple does not develop products in one silo and give birth in another. Apple products are engineered to induce brand evangelism.

3. Design can create patterns of trust
A logo can become more than a logo. If every time a consumer enters a retail platform you greet them with behavior that affirms their belief in your brand, you are designing branding patterns of trust.

In some cases, branding patterns can make the difference in spotting a bad Apple. It looks like Apple. Talks like Apple. But the appearance of the "Apple Store" sign gave away the knockoff retailer in China. The sleuth behind the discovery was not a cop or trade official. An Apple fan spotted the phony retailer. Every brand has the power to be this identifiable to its consumers.

4. Data drives consumer engagement
Not only does social commerce add instant connections to the consumer-brand experience, a wealth of consumer data now enters the mix. But this data is useless paired with push marketing techniques. Consumers demand a stake in campaigns. For many companies this requires a recalibration to respond to consumers' needs across multiple platforms.

Consumers will voice their expectations for your brand. If you are like Facebook, you will respond -- tweaking privacy settings, responding to competitors by adding features. What becomes of the company without a system for consumer engagement? Ignoring consumer feedback never ends in positive brand experiences.

Now that everything we know about marketing is changing, how much longer will companies that favor unbendable brand campaigns continue to function? Like anthropologists, companies must unearth and discard old branding patterns, which no longer work, and design brand experiences with lasting effects. There is nothing ephemeral about that.

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