Ebbf member Enrico Giraudi, member of the ebbf comms tribe, shares this ‘wake-up-call’ to bring authenticity to the world of advertising and communication. (Originally posted on Refresh Interactions Blog.)
Dear Brand, It’s time to be true!
Just between the two of us – communication guy -, we all feel and know that Brands are “very well told lies”. We like to call it “storytelling”. But, that’s it, we just sell hopes and aspirations. Nothing bad, it’s just the game of advertising and, in the end, it’s all about entertainment. Why? Because we’re at the beginning of a global wave of change: a “quantum leap” in people’s mindfulness. Today it’s happening within target niches, tomorrow it will be a global massive consumer’s movement. And a cross category wave.The question is: does it still work?
Yes, it still work today. But, will it still work tomorrow? No, it will not work at all. Mindfulness. That’s a word we never heard about in brand communication. What do you mean by “people’s mindfulness”? I mean a shift in the capacity of people to discern between what will drive their lives to true happiness from what will not, because it’s just a “fake”. And more specifically, the ability to discern between what is meaningful in their lives from what is not: this may relate to a product, a service, a story, a promise, a “call”, a job, just about anything.
This is great news and we need to thank the recession for that. The current recession is not only economical, it is – first and foremost – an existential recession, a paradigm shift. We are facing a recession in life’s priorities, values, meaningfulness, everything which has defined until now the concept of “quality of life”. People globally feel betrayed by the “system” and betrayed by its historical icons and totems: money, success, career, wealth models, consumption-based lifestyles. These icons are going to be unveiled and will be naked in front of a new more mindful humanity. Which is growing in numbers and power. Some clear signs are showing.
Step by step, an enormous number of citizens are becoming aware that the current “model of work” does not work anymore for them. They’re understanding that “work” is not at the service of people’s quality of life, but it’s the exact opposite.
The criticism against the “GDP as an indicator of progress” is growing globally and we are all looking with hope at new ideas like the “Gross National Happiness indicator” (see the Bhutan experiment) as the new way to relaunch economies and societies.
Business-based economies have proven to be weak in front of the economic crisis, while values-based entrepreneurship is proving to be the future, because a business idea based on an inner and valuable motivation is one hundred times stronger and solid than a simple “I’m here to make money” business concept. We may be in front of a new “motivation-based” economy.
People are shifting more and more from “thought-driven decisions” to “feeling-driven decisions” and that allows them to re-set what makes their life better and happier: having more time for what is important to them, relationships, love, justice, authenticity, service to others, solidarity, connection with the environment, quality food, a meaningful job. People will be better able to: detect lies, artificial messages, non authentic promises, inconsistency.
So, dear marketers and advertising guys, what will be the effect on the brands we’re working for? The answer is very simple and also quite inconvenient. Brands that will continue to stay “artificial” (great creative positioning without true connections with the values and roots of a company) will lose trust, bonding and relevance against their public. Or, we can ride this upcoming wave of change and help our clients to create a paradigm shift:
from funny, entertaining “lies”, to truth
from artificial positioning, to authentic identities
from inconsistency (what a brand says vs how the company behaves), to consistency
from power to meaningfulness
from a pure business focus, to a focus on service
from building a temporary consumer’s “like”, to creating long term gratitude
…and much more. Now, the big inconvenient truth is, whether you like it or not, the only brands (and companies) which will survive in the near future are the ones that will have and own a relevant (social) reason to exist. Ask yourself a simple question: why do I exist as a Company, as a Brand?
If your answer is: ”to make money”. You’re a dead body. No future. If you’re able to give yourself an answer where you see an intent, a big purpose, then you have a good chance. If it’s your purpose and motivation to serve humanity (and not your shareholders only), helping people to improve their lives, well, you’re the leader of tomorrow. Right now. If at the end of this article you think “this is bullshit”, that’s okay. I understand.
If you feel “there may be some truth to this”, well you’re at the beginning of the most unexpected and inspiring transformation path ever for your company, your brand, your agency. There are guys around the world that are sensing this shift and who have developed new models and new branding paradigms.
Just as an example, have a look at what these guys from Holland are doing with their “Finding the Soul” project: Refresh interactions. New models are emerging, models that can help a brand, a company and organizations to create a co-creative “space” from which to reflect and design their future, using non cognitive thinking approaches (like the U Theory model, by Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge, or systemic thinking approaches) which allow organizations to unlock an “enfuturing process”, Re-connect with your “inner reason, your why”, with your “big purpose”, with your “authentic roots”, with your “truth” and let your future company emerge for a better future. Isn’t that exciting?
Let’s start a conversation.