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Habit #7 of Highly Digital Brands — Being Constant

January 10, 2013

This is Part VII of a week-long series that explores the seven core attributes of successful brands in the Digital Age. Lee Maicon is SVP of Insights & Planning at 360i.

Being constant means being prolific with a purpose, creating currency that will keep a brand top of mind with its audience and elicit action. By being always-on, marketers can tap into how people live every day and respond to their audiences’ wants, needs and values in a way that is true to their brand’s story and their objectives as marketers.

What it means to be constant

To be constant contains two critical, but almost contradictory definitions: 1) to have a strong core set of values from which you do not deviate; and 2) to be always-on and willing to adapt to new realities.

To be constant as a brand means having a strong filter for creative and strategy but, even more importantly, it means constant vigilance as a creative idea launches and beyond. It means not thinking in terms of launches and campaigns at all but rather creating a body of work that has many hooks that sustain interest and engagement over time. Although brands should not sway from their core brand voice, they must always be on – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Why does it matter?

In the big brand campaigns of the past, launch and leave was something you could get away with,– with the right well-tested proposition, GRP plan and copy-testing. If you had the pieces lined up, you might even pull off equity and sales growth. In digital campaigns, on the other hand, constant editing and optimization is the path to drive results.

Today’s new marketing reality forces us to learn from each. Marketers need to take the constant vision and scale of “traditional” approaches and the constant optimization and iteration of digital to build a new model for success.

The new reality forces brands to constantly react to an ever-shifting landscape of trends, memes, information and entertainment. One brand that has thrived in this climate is 360i client Bravo, which has leveraged a deep understanding of its digital-savvy audience to craft programming and promotion that builds and sustains a unique cultural currency over time.

Bravo coordinates social and digital activity from talent such as Andy Cohen, on-air promotion, and in-show content to produce a constant feed that sustains engagement with the brand, network and community. This always-on, transmedia approach to content has allowed Bravo to build a core brand voice over time but to do so in a manner that can change by show, season or viewer interest.

Three keys to being constant

1. Follow a constant north star. Establish the core values that you stand for. This is probably not a product feature or attribute but rather a value that can be a constant north star for you to improvise off of, push off against and focus on as the theme of your conversation.

2. Listen closely. Once you have your focus, stop and listen to everything going on around you. Hear what memes, conversations and human problems are relevant. It may seem simplistic, but listen to the competition as well. It’s up to you to maintain freshness and differentiation.

3. Make a plan, but keep space to improvise. Implement a calendar and plan that allows for improvisation at the eleventh hour. This may involve educating the “back office” functions of your organization to prepare them for a new way of working. Traditional rules of production, legal and even in-store promotion and packaging can hamstring innovation so consider how processes can shift to allow for greater flexibility.

Read our previous “7 Habits” posts:  Part I – Being a Skilled ConversationalistPart II – Being Authentic,  Part III – Being Data-DrivenPart IV – Being DiscoverablePart V – Being Relevant and Part VI – Being a Content Creator.

Cover photo via Flickr