Incite Brand Marketing Summit – Top 11 Takeaways

Incite Brand Marketing Summit – Top 11 Takeaways

Scoot Insights attended the Incite Brand Marketing Summit last week in our hometown of San Francisco. It was reassuring to hear again and again across the two days, that listening to your customer to get deeper customer understanding is still at the heart of good Marketing, particularly when it comes to repositioning brands and developing strong brand communication.

The Summit was rich with examples of exactly this from a host of great speakers.

Here are Scoot’s 11 Top Takeaways:

  1. Authentic stories captured from listening to real Levi’s owner experiences are critical to emotional engagement with the brand, and social media helps these stories be told more easily than traditional media alone, according to Jennifer Sey, CMO of Levi Strauss & Co.
  2. Customer insights and an agile approach is key according to Mike Linton, CMO of Farmer’s insurance, particularly when your campaign is based on humor sourced from real customer stories – he also stressed that being a successful CMO is a constant balancing act between multiple factors, such as creative and analytics; and building long term capabilities while delivering short-term results, whilst also being an on-going change agent!
  3. Emanuele Madeddu, the EVP of Brand Strategy at National Geographic stressed the importance of authenticity and consumer understanding as they sought to successfully reposition from consumer reverence to consumer relevance. Understanding what “exploration” means today was key to their success – for the majority it includes exploring new places, people, food, cultures, not necessarily getting to the top of a mountain any more – National Geographic is on a mission to ignite the explorer in all people, and this starts with curiosity and understanding what this means to consumers.
  4. Kodak intends to Champion the Magical Moments in Life by celebrating the moments that matter – it appears the world needs Kodak Moments more than ever, as 55% of Americans believe current culture is losing its ability to identify what is authentic and meaningful, at least according to Rob Smith, CMO, Kodak Moments.
  5. David Fossas, Senior Director of Brand at WP Engine shared learning from their customer research, including the need to shift from “inform me” to “entertain me” when communicating to Gen Z – this is the primary form of building trust with this audience, yet at the same time, celebrities are being replaced by the “long tail of organic influencers.” He also highlighted that “predictive personalization” is expected by Gen Z, so be fearless in asking for their data so you can deliver the personalized experiences necessary – this, at least in part, is behind the success of Amazon, Google, Facebook & Netflix who are not shy of asking for data so they can deliver personalized content. Today, “the digital experience is the human experience” was David’s final sign off!
  6. Robin Wheeler, Director of Sales at Twitter captured my attention with the notion that “everything is changing, but the formula isn’t.” It’s still about the need to identify an anchor in consumer insights and marry this with the right channel for communication, as well as having a deeper understanding of the consumer mindset as they use each channel, whether it is SM channels such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram which are all about “look at me” vs Twitter, which is all about “look at that” – because they are an information/news channel, not a social media channel. This concept came with a reminder that people go to Twitter to experience things live – “if it’s happening in the real world, it’s happening on Twitter.
  7. There was a clear warning from Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO of Mozilla that there is “no magic growth equation.” The fact we have 4700 choices of marketing technology to collect, organize and take action on customer data is making marketers lazy. Instead of truly understanding the customer, their journey and their lifecycle, we are tempted to focus on how technology can solve our problems – but like a Rumba vacuum, it doesn’t necessarily live up to expectations. As trust in business is declining, people prefer “purpose-driven brands” particularly Millennials and Gen Z, that they feel they can trust. It is no longer enough to be clear what you do and how you do it, but you must be clear why you do it too. Part of his message was to practice “lean data practices” as they do at Mozilla – which includes ensuring you don’t capture customer information just for the sake of it, and if you do, you need to “change this mindset to only collecting what will add value to your customers.”
  8. The belief that “A brand is a promise and a great brand is a promise kept” has underpinned their program of change at Ascension as they rebrand multiple hospitals all over the country under one brand. Tara Vail, VP Marketing & Communications for Ascension told the story how they have dug deep throughout the process with patient and employee research, knowing that they must deliver the right value proposition to their consumers, because “the consumer experience is about keeping the brand promise.”
  9. While Brian Groves, from Facebook’s Global Partnerships’ team was mainly talking about the power of agile marketing, I was fascinated by the concept that all creative briefs must be “mobile-first” in today’s world – and that there is a 2 second “audition” for an ad to catch attention on Facebook or any SM, and then if it’s working, it can be expanded on more traditional media forms such as TV. He of course also stressed the importance of storytelling, particularly if you are a business. Better make sure your 2-second audition is working for your audience!
  10. Irma Shrivastava, SVP, Strategic Marketing & Alliances, American Cancer Society, leveraging her experience from Coca Cola, has overseen a transformation in communication at the American Cancer Society that has been entirely consumer-led. It maybe a global brand, but only 7% of people had heard of ACS and even they had little understanding of the good work ACS does. Unfortunately, neither did I! They are the only organization that attacks cancer from every angle – research, advocacy AND patient services. They leveraged consumer research to work out how to connect head to heart to drive a positive intent to donate – It is not about cancer, it is about the ACS. So they went small to go big. They have used the very personal nature of individual cancer stories and the role ACS played, to bring an emotional authenticity to their communication delivered through a mix of old and new channels.
  11. Final mention goes to Bruce J Hershey, VP Marketing for Tailored Brands at Men’s Wearhouse – who told the compelling story of how they had to “un-think everything” with the help of EP+Co., using a mix of customer research including shop-alongs, focus groups, and IDIs across the country, in order to reverse the brand perceptions of a 45 year old brand, in just 9 months!   They have successfully re-imagined and redefined the brand beyond the conventional retail playbook – check out their new campaign, summed up with “It doesn’t matter what size your label says, you’ll like the way you look.

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