Here at Mason Interactive, we stress the importance of building up your brand equity. Whether your focus is on the long term benefits of SEO or a robust PR strategy, there are numerous ways brands can build up their authority across channels and within the consumer space.

In our recent e-commerce focused webinar, Thriving in a Crisis, Katie Klencheski, founder of SMAKK Studios, highlights the many ways she has been working on building brands that connect authentically with consumers over the past decade.

Brand development has changed 

Five years ago, there was a change in the marketplace, but a shift really came to the forefront two years ago that focused on consumer sensibility. Did you know that on average, we now see 5000+ brand ads and images per day? “In a sea of brands, it takes a lot more to stand out than it used to,” Katie says. 

Brands are evolving – we used to be in a place where brands could talk about functional needs, value or quality, and the crop of emerging D2C brands over the past 10 years prove that design and personality were enough to stand out for a little while – but that alone is not enough anymore. 

Brands that embrace the idea of a higher purpose are starting to win the day

69% of consumers in the US are “belief driven buyers” who are looking for brands that align with their values and brands that connect with those values are winning. Consumers want the products they choose to have a positive impact on our planet, build communities, drive social change, foster inclusion, and meaningfully enable self expression. 

Consumers are showing up for these brands in the marketplace. Katie mentions a recent study where brands marketing sustainability are seeing 5X growth over those conventionally marketing products in their category. 

Millennials and GenZ want to work for brands that are trying to make the world a better place. Additionally, many at the top of the food chain believe that the focus on shareholder values is the only thing that should be driving corporations’ decisions. Consumers and investors are looking for brands who are going to restore a sense of community, a sense of humanity and help us heal from this moment. 

Building brands for what’s next

“In order to win, we have to take on today’s issues with solutions for the future and create meaningful relationships with consumers,” Katie adds. The success of any brand depends on its ability to own its unique white space and cultural moment. 

At SMAKK, Katie emphasizes the importance of looking at the DNA of the brand, competitors, brand audience and cultural landscape.

“Right now, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to connect emotionally with their audiences”

“Because people have a strong sense of memory to things they have an emotional connection with, this is a time when we can do things as brands that are going to build a tremendous amount of brand equity because we are doing things at a time where people will remember us for our actions.”

Brands that lead are going to emerge in a position of power and be able to engage with their audiences afterward. To thrive right now, brands need to speak this moment, and put their values and purpose in service of their audience’s needs.

Not a moment just to sell but to engage and connect

Before your brand can act, you must be clear on your foundational “why”. This is an opportunity for brands to spend time articulating “What is our purpose?”, “What are our values?”, “How does that inform the products that we create?”, and “What does that mean for our position in the market?”.

“If we understand the core of what a brand is, that should inform every action, every interaction and every reaction that that brand has across every channel that they have,” Katie adds. 

If you don’t know exactly what your purpose is and what your values are, you won’t be able to act in a way that is authentic with your consumers. Once you have defined these characteristics, only then you can begin to focus on personality, story telling, visual identity and tone of voice, and how it works across your different channels.

Here’s examples on how Mason Interactive client Dagne Dover embraces its values:

What’s next?

Last month’s campaign won’t work today. The core of who you are [as a brand] shouldn’t change, but what you are putting out in the world has to. Therefore, we need to be creative about how we are creating content.

Embrace solo content creators

Reach out to photographers with home studios or influencers to show how they engage with their product – how does your product live at home?

Break the 4th wall and show people what’s behind your company

Letters from the founder, business problems, show employees – we are all in this together. Because we are losing social connections in the real world, we are moving to social media to fill the gap. Brands have just as much real estate in our feeds, if not more, and therefore that’s exactly where brands need to be.

Be real. Now is the time to show up as humans. 

“We are going to see a ton of campaigns that focus on real humans and making meaningful content that is authentic to connect and seize this moment,” Katie concludes.

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