Brands often look to the future for clues on how to adapt to changing technology and culture. But much of what futurists say is coming can be acted upon today (e.g. human-centric branding).
To learn about what the future may bring to digital marketing, Dana Rousmaniere spoke with Gerd Leonhard, “one of the leading media-futurists in the world.”
What this futurist envisions
Here are a few salient points from the discussion on the HBR blog:
“You’re going to stop buying things from companies that don’t fit your values, just because you can’t see giving them the money.”
“All of the companies of the future will have one big job: to make sure that the customer feels cherished and safeguarded.”
“Data alone will never be enough. You still need to reach consumers on an emotional level. The bottom line for marketers will be that if a product or service isn’t humanized, it won’t sell – because buying something isn’t an intellectual process of saying “this could be useful”; it’s saying “I really want this.”
Why wait for the future to come?
I believe the future Mr. Leonard is painting is already here – or, at least his insights are ready to be put to use right now. Here’s how:
Make your brand, product, and services better fit with the needs, values, interests, and aspirations of people – so they can see the point of giving you the money.
Go beyond the concept of brand utility to brand feelings – make kick-ass products that solve problems AND do it in a way that make people feel cherished (valued, appreciated) and safeguarded (secure, protected).
Reach out on an emotional level – humanize your brand, products, and services in ways that break down barriers, encourage participation, and clear the path to decisions that benefit your bottom line.
Empathy, purpose, emotion – are key to success
Start with extreme empathy – put your business interests aside and come to understand what people are seeking on a very basic human level.
Embrace a purpose – one that takes your ambition beyond profits and shareholder returns and into the fertile grounds of meaning.
Create an emotional aura around your brand, product, or service – a unique set of emotions which make people feel gratified, which they readily internalize, and which influence the way they think, feel, and act on behalf of your brand – now and in the future.