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    Lady Gaga covered in meat - the beginning of the end of recognition

    We guess none of you missed Lady Gaga receiving her MTV Video Of The Year award in a dress made of raw meat. Last time Heartbeats brought up the lady on this blog, we wrote about lessons brands could learn from Gaga’s successful incorporation of the four Es (of emotions, engagement, experiences and exclusivity) in her personal brand building. However, since then her search for attention has accelerated, and her increasingly freaked out methods must be perceived as symptoms of marketing gone sick. It is recognition for the sake of recognition, in an era where more than ever, people seek brands with relevance that add meaning to their lives.

    lady-gaga-meat-dress

    In the past 50 years not many brands have had to go as far as dressing up in meat to get the recognition needed to sell products; TV advertising used to do the job pretty well. Attention was easily bought, and consumer behavior was fairly simple to predict. But the digital revolution of the last 15 years of has changed this rapidly. All of the world’s information is just one click away, and we are facing a saturated market, where brands compete with anyone anywhere to get people’s attention.

    We can see at least two ways companies have tried to meet these challenges (sometimes combining the two). Firstly, we have companies that seem to believe in the model that if they just increase their marketing budgets and media investments, sooner or later consumers will be persuaded to buy into their products. Though what these brands have left out of the calculation is that today recognition means nothing without relevance…

    Secondly, we have companies who are fully aware of the importance of being relevant. They have understood that everyone is connected (and thereby competes with one other), so they have moved the focus (and thereby marketing efforts) away from merely ‘buying recognition’ to deserving it. They have added value and a higher purpose to their overall communication and marketing strategies. Instead of pushing out information about product benefits, they tell memorable stories, leaving the idea about persuading their customers behind, in its place helping them create more meaning in their lives. Simply put, they have chosen relevance before recognition.

    At Heartbeats, we have seen our own clients facing this problem of recognition vs. relevance. Often they have a product that is well recognised on the market, but not considered relevant or the preferred brand of the target group. People don’t buy into the story of the brand or just don’t feel strongly enough for the brand. This has resulted in our communication department developing entertainment, music and culture strategies with higher purposes, transcending traditional marketing through the four Es adding true brand relevance and touching the hearts of our client’s customers.

    Lost Sthlm - Axe Soundsystem from Emil Rydberg on Vimeo.

    Let’s hope that the desperation Lady Gaga seems to have in keeping attention isn’t spreading to brands that want to stay relevant in the marketplace. Seriously, can anyone tell us what could possibly come next after covering yourself in raw meat? All ideas are welcome…

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    #4 EXCLUSIVITY (4Es of music branding)

    When in Tokyo I recommend a visit to a ‘Pachinko hall’. It’s a type of game hall with vending machines and a games called ‘Pachinko’. The sound wave when entering is shocking - your senses are literally bombarded by flashing lights, spinning wheels and hysteric techno music. What fascinates me is that the people don’t pay any attention to all the noise and flashing lights anymore but just sit quietly playing their game. They have become numb and have learnt how to screen out all the messages and focus on their interest.

    The Pachinko halls work as a metaphor for today’s market place. More and more brands compete for our attention but we pay less attention to them. Statistics show that more than 20 000 new brands are launched every year but only a few survive the two first years. Research tells us that we are confronted with more than 2500 advertising messages on a daily basis, but only remember around 8% of them. An ANC Nielsen study shows that we only remember in an average of two of the advertisements we’ve seen in a day.

    In a reality that increasingly resembles Tokyo, the need to differentiate your brand and take a unique and exclusive position in the mind of your audience is more important then ever. Sound and music here play a great role especially as a tool to create consistency in how the brand sounds on the different platforms of contact with the customer. A sonic identity can be created (an audio version of the graphic identity) that defines how the brand sounds and this is then activated as a sound logotype, in-store music program, presentations and hold music. In this way you can hold the customers’ attention also when they are not looking your way and create a more unique brand experience and exclusivity.

    There is of course a reason why Coca-cola has worked with sonic branding for more than 20 years, and everyone recognises McDonalds ‘Da da da da dah, I’m loving it‘. Research from Dr Adrian North of Leicester University shows that it’s working; brands with music in their brand identity are 96% more likely to be recalled then those without (or non-fitting music).

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