Stanley tumblers were already having a moment before they shot to even higher viral fame a few weeks ago in a dazzling example of branding strategy.
A TikTok user posted a clip showing the aftermath of a car fire. Although the vehicle is completely burned out, the car owner’s insulated tumbler sits in the cupholder seemingly untouched – ice cubes still frozen.
Views on the video skyrocketed, with numerous people commenting on what great marketing this was for Stanley and that the women deserved some free merch. Stanley did one better. The president of the company responded with a video addressed directly to the car owner, expressing relief that everyone was safe and highlighting how the incident illustrates Stanley’s Built For Life™ brand promise in action. Then, he offered to replace her mug – and her car.
The two videos racked up millions of views and more than 100,000 comments, almost entirely positive. Truly an astounding success in marketing terms.
(For Kia, on the other hand, which had already suffered from bad press as a result of over 1.5 million vehicles being recalled and recommended to be parked outside over concerns of starting on fire? Not so much.)
There are a few reasons why this example of branding strategy was so effective. Stanley’s marketing team kept their finger on the pulse with social listening and was quick to pivot when an opportunity arose. The response was authentic, filled with goodwill and had a personal touch. And it got right to the heart of their mission and brand values – making products that are built for life while doing good for their community. Of course, their target audience loved it.
That’s far from the only case of recent great marketing. Below are some more examples of brand strategy and how they played when put to the test.
Great branding is all about knowing how to connect the dots.
While big companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and others often get so much attention for their marketing efforts, they’re not the only ones doing great work. In fact, the success of these giants can be attributed to their meticulous brand strategies. So, why is brand strategy so crucial in 2024 and beyond?
These brand strategies should be on your radar for 2024.
Credit: Oatly via Gmail screenshot
Oat drink company Oatly isn’t afraid to show-it-all with their marketing.
Who else launches a newsletter named “Spam the Newsletter” or addresses all readers as “FIRSTNAME LASTNAME” (if you know, you know) or has a whole website dedicated to mistakes they’ve made?
Oatly is gaining a reputation for authentic, slightly wacky marketing that’s driving brand awareness like never before. They sell a milk alternative, but people flock to them for so much more.
The use of generative AI exploded this past year with tools like ChatGPT, among others. It seemingly overnight changed how people do a lot of things, from creating shopping lists to writing emails. The now virtually endless amount of AI-generated content at marketers’ fingertips didn’t go unnoticed by consumers.
The desire for authenticity – the antithesis to AI – has skyrocketed in response. Brandwatch listed authenticity-driven marketing as one of the top trends for 2024 and one that 56% of marketers agree will dominate.
Even the dictionaries agree. “AI” was named the most notable word of 2023 by the dictionary publisher Collins, whereas Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023 is “authentic.” The two go hand-in-hand.
What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, authenticity means being real – not an imitation – and “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” It means aligning an organization’s marketing, messaging and brand image with the reality of its products, values and actions.
Authenticity is something 86% of consumers consider before making a purchasing decision. And while the majority of brands think they are delivering authentic content, there’s a bit of disconnect: only 37% of consumers actually agree that content is.
Credit: JD Sports via TikTok screenshot
A video circulating a few weeks ago showed the iconic Big Ben Tower in London decked out in a North Face puffer jacket, just as the city nosed into winter. Onlookers in the video can be heard commenting about the sight.
The video went viral and the image of the famous Big Ben wearing a North Face puffy is hard to forget!
But no, the clock tower wasn’t truly bundled up against dropping temperatures. It was a marketing stunt made possible thanks to computer-generated imagery (CGI). It certainly caught people’s attention, though.
Worth noting, however, is the confused reaction by some viewers who couldn’t tell if the video was real or not. A word of caution harkening back to the importance of authenticity!
Just because consumers don’t want to see AI-generated content mill copy or generic emails, doesn’t mean all technology is bad. Of course not!
Martech can be extremely powerful when used correctly. From social listening to chatbots to better personalization to supercharging sales enablement, there’s a lot marketers can do to leverage automation while retaining messaging’s humanity.
Big data and analytics are one part of the equation, with information that can be harnessed to create hyper-personal interactions. Virtual reality and augmented reality also continue to gain steam, creating immersive brand experiences. And there are so many opportunities to improve your revenue operations and ensure sustainable growth with tech-enabled solutions.
But technology can’t replace the human touch. Take AI and content marketing, for example. It can be useful for brainstorming – like generating ideas for headlines or email subject lines – but it’s just a starting point. A brand journalist takes marketing content to where it needs to be with the subtle nuances of each brand’s story, voice and audience.
At the end of the day, technology is a tool to enhance and streamline. But you can’t replace the human behind the machine without losing authenticity – the number one branding trend moving forward.
Use technology to stand out, not blend in.
Credit: Mother London
This year during Ramadan, Uber Eats, in partnership with agency Mother London, launched a marketing campaign in sync with their Muslim customers. Each day at sundown during Ramadan, Muslims break their day-long fast with a nightly feast called iftar.
Uber Eats released a series of digital billboards showcasing popular iftar dishes with a countdown to sunset – with an invitation to schedule a meal at just the right time. Each day, the countdown was customized for each specific location’s time of sunset.
Genius, with a dash of cultural awareness, coming from a food delivery company.
Understanding your audience isn’t something new to 2024, but it’s so important that it’s worth revisiting. There’s a reason why it’s an enduring strategy – it’s the basis for all other marketing tactics and initiatives.
What has changed in recent years, though, are the methods and what you can do with the information available to you. Advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and strategic interviews with customers now offer unprecedented insights into consumer behaviors preferences and trends.
All this extra information means new frontiers for personalizing experiences and tailoring content. Consumers crave personalized experiences over generic marketing messages – not just a prompt to order food from Uber Eats, for instance, but a customized countdown to when someone can order.
On top of that, understanding where your target audience is situated is critical – and that requires an omnichannel approach to marketing. While Uber Eats’ digital billboards caught all the attention, it was just one piece of the puzzle in creating a great user experience.
From social media to over-the-top (OTT) TV to paid search ads, you need to be able to map and optimize your customers’ journey across various touch points and meet them where they are.
At Kuno Creative, we care about your company, your people and your success. With more than two decades of experience creating and executing winning brand strategies for leading companies across industries, we know what it takes and we deliver, with leading strategies, compelling content, dynamic video and design, demand generation and reporting to underscore performance and inform future efforts.
Schedule a consultation today to see what we can do for your brand in 2024 and beyond.