In a data-driven world, measurement and performance reign supreme. And that shouldn’t change. But in an increasingly fragmented communications landscape where it’s harder and harder for brands to break through the clutter, the “big idea” is more important than ever.
For brands, the big idea can unify and become the roadmap for more powerful storytelling and consumer engagement. And when executed well, the big idea can help a brand cut through the clutter, engage consumers and inspire brand loyalty. So, while performance media, AI, and other data will continue to be important in helping brand marketing teams show how they are driving results, they should also double down on the big idea. But where does the big idea come from, and what makes it successful? Here are five qualities your idea should have to achieve success.
1. Connected To Culture
According to a 2019 Magna and Twitter study, “The Impact of Culture,” a brand’s cultural involvement makes up a full 25% of a consumer’s purchase decision. So for any consumer brand, it’s ideal if the big idea is connected to culture. Think about Major League Baseball’s Field of Dream’s game inspired by the film or how the movie Black Panther ignited conversations about Black culture and heroes. On the business side, consider REI’s decision to close stores on Black Friday to encourage consumers to #OptOutside. Culturally relevant brands are likely to be more relevant to consumers, and the big idea is how you inspire and engage them.
2. Committed To Doing Good
While I’ve found that quality products and quality of service remain key drivers of consumer satisfaction, the impact of “doing good” as a brand cannot be understated. According to an IBM study (via The Chronicle of Philanthropy—registration required), 71% of U.S customers believe “corporations have a responsibility to prioritize their employees, the environment, and their community as much as shareholder returns.” Think about powerful consumer brands like Patagonia or Tom’s, whose products are inextricably linked to their brand mission of doing good in the world around them, or Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and his wife’s $5 million commitment to help Philadelphia students close the digital divide during the pandemic. (Full disclosure: Comcast is a Tierney client.)
3. Authentic To The Brand
Of course, when you look at those brands, you can see that the big idea is successful and connects with consumers because it is rooted in brand purpose and authentic to who they are as organizations. In a Gartner survey, 62% of consumers say brands should only express support for issues that are consistent with the company’s values, and 45% of consumers say brands should only take a stand on issues directly related to their business, products or services.
4. Grounded In Strong Brand Messaging:
If the big idea is authentic to the brand, then it should be easy to develop strong brand messaging or a brand narrative. This isn’t traditional corporate messaging or talking points about the business. Brand messaging today is cantered around powerful storytelling, and it should aid a brand in differentiating itself from competitors. It should also be understandable, inclusive, accessible and easy for anyone who touches the brand or talks about it—be it the CEO, a customer service rep or a TikTok creator. The development of a strong brand narrative should involve internal, and whenever possible, external stakeholders and brands should tap their agencies, strategists, internal and external communicators, channel experts and creative voices from across the organization.
5. Fully Integrated
Once the brand narrative is established and fully embraced across an organization, marketers should then thread it throughout all channels to reach consumers at every touch point in an integrated and interconnected way. On average, 2020 data from Doubleverify (via Forbes) found that consumers spent seven hours a day consuming content (compared to about three hours pre-pandemic), and brands are challenged to feed that content machine meaningfully empathetically—every day. I’ve seen them turning away from expensive campaigns and polished productions and increasingly sharing content that feels more real and authentic to consumers. Brands and agencies can create that content via in-house content studios to meet the 24/7 nature of content marketing today more quickly and efficiently. They can also turn to influencers.
Marketing teams shouldn’t be intimidated by trying to find the big idea that will break through the clutter and fully engage consumers. Embrace the opportunity that comes with the big idea. Connect it to culture or doing good. And most importantly, make it authentic to the brand, grounded in strong messaging and fully integrated across all channels.