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12 December

3 Ways Brands Made Themselves More Relatable in 2018


Kids today—amidst intense competition from disruptive challenger brands and direct-to-consumer rivals, businesses may find themselves struggling to compete. In an age of social marketing and the power of word-of-mouth, being liked boils down to being relatable.

Think about it: today, social media has prompted many more of us (not just millennials) to befriend our favorite brands. In fact, it’s one of the few environments where users really want to consume branded and sponsored content. With marketing embedded in environments where customers communicate with friends and family, they naturally gravitate toward those they relate to most.

Now, being relatable doesn’t mean trying to jump on the bandwagon of whatever the popular slang or meme of the moment is. Rather, brands that want to appear more relatable must gain a close understanding of their audience: their interests, their concerns and their sense of humor. If charismatic competition luring your customers away feels #SoRelatable, consider how you deal with these three areas in your marketing.

The Right Place for the Right Audience

A key factor in relatability is knowing your audience and catering to their communities. This is especially necessary for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG’s), a space in which it can be difficult to differentiate from competition beyond price. But one brand with a keen awareness of what makes its audience tick is Old Spice. Once associated with an older audience, the brand has bounced back in the past decade to become one of the top hygiene brands for young men.

Old Spice has hosted several of its recent campaigns through interactive livestreams. Take its Foam Zone event from early fall for example, which placed influencers into a series of football-themed challenges featuring the brand’s foam body wash. Inspired by Japanese game shows like Ninja Warrior, the event offered audience participation by activating challenges through polls, hashtags and emoji-sharing on each broadcast platform. Old Spice is no stranger to niche platforms like Twitch, and this event demonstrated the brand’s ability to embed itself among communities favored by its target audience. Having a clear presence within a community and closely interacting with fans isn’t something that only direct-to-consumer brands should do; for Old Spice, it’s no sweat.

Earning Consumers’ Trust

Relatability is also key to defining tough-to-understand value propositions or garnering trust in the consumer. In terms of defining your value proposition, collaborating with influencers or personalities your audience identifies with provides a sense of familiarity as they learn more about you and your products. For example, teaching consumers how to use the latest technology isn’t always an easy sell; customers who lack confidence in their technical understanding can shut down when given the opportunity to try something new. Using relatability to build trust is also beneficial if you anticipate skepticism or concerns from your audience—for example, how personal data is handled.

Knowing that users might be intimidated by smart appliances, Samsung staged a walkthrough of its ecosystem at the 2018 Berlin FWA innovation show. This wasn’t your ordinary “day in the life” presentation: users were able to step into the Griffin family home—of Family Guy fame—through a mixed-reality experience. There, they were tasked with helping Peter Griffin accomplish an afternoon’s worth of chores using the smart Samsung appliances. Because Peter isn’t the smartest tool in the shed, even tech novices can feel smart while activating the different devices for him and seeing how they interact with one another.

Another example for earning trust is the #GetTheYes campaign for the Amazon Teen program. “The campaign targeted kids on visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat during back-to-school season,” said Chris Byrne, Director of US Parternships and Production at MediaMonks,  “providing tools they could use to create custom artwork to share to their parents persuading them for their own Amazon account.” The campaign spoke directly to the way kids socialize and creatively generate content online—acing our right place, right audience tip above—while paying special care to the feelings of parents who worry about their kids growing up too fast.

“By turning a campaign into a creative and educational experience—the art of persuasion is a valuable life skill, after all—Amazon made an offer that was hard to say ‘no’ to.”

Chris Byrne

Director of US Parternships and Production, MediaMonks

Accurately Representing Your Audience

FileMaker, a workplace innovation platform that allows businesses to increase productivity through custom-build applications, faced a similar challenge in making a value proposition to users. Our solution was to poke fun at innovation’s status as a buzzword. As a level-headed businesswoman makes the case for how FileMaker solves common business challenges, a top-knotted, paradigm-shifting employee interrupts her in each scene to present an obviously bad idea.

This brings us to another important consideration in relatability: representation. While it’s not the focus of the series, each video starts with the trope of a man interrupting or mansplaining to the businesswoman. Viewers of any gender might enjoy poking fun at the ridiculous ideas, though women who have dealt with similar personalities in the workplace will especially relate. Representation matters in any campaign, and is essential to how consumers relate to brands. Businesses that see a need in making themselves more relatable might start by looking at their past campaigns and how they do (or don’t) represent the audience they want.

Ideally, customers should be able to see themselves in the scenarios you place before them. In addition to representation, context is key; if you don’t have a sophisticated understanding of how your audience interacts with their favorite platforms, you might consider collaborating with a partner who does. This helps you better tailor your voice and capabilities to specific audiences and platforms. With a message that resonates with audiences and a more relatable brand, organizations can maintain their competitive edge amidst the recent wave of direct-to-consumer marketing and established, charismatic brand voices on social media.

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