Human beings derive meaning and maintain well-being through the organization of time.
- A. Meyer
The shift towards 100% digital customer experience is here and unlikely to go anywhere soon since America, unfortunately, is staying home for a while.(1) With America home and on screens 24/7, the competition for digital mindshare among brands large and small is fiercer than ever. Brands must think creatively about how to broaden their digital borders and experiences. Digital and social media are exploding into new formats within gaming, Zoom, and virtual events. With brands and customers alike struggling with every aspect of Maslow's triangle, the question brands need to ask isn’t a performance-based “how do we reach our customers now?” but a brand focused one: “how do we keep them?” The answer is programming your brand with repeatable formats, either on owned or partner channels, that support your offerings or initiatives–whether that’s a new product or a conversation around diversity. I’ve got psychology to prove it.
Programming and repeatable formats signal reliability
When I was little, I’d sleep at my grandparents’ house every Friday night. Like clockwork, the evening would end with strawberry and whipped cream in BakeLite® cups. Every Saturday morning, my brother and I would wake up early and sit outside my grandparent's bedroom door with our ears peeled to the floor, listening closely to even the slightest rustling that meant they were awake and could open the door and jump on their beds. Children need routine (nap time, dinner time, playtime) to create safety and comfort. We don’t grow out of this. As an adult, we ritualize our lives. Pre-pandemic, we programmed CrossFit®, SoulCycle®, watching football, going to work, dinner with friends. This gave us belonging. Now, at home, the struggle with belonging is ever-present. The days blur. I had to purchase a Self-Journal so I could write, with a pen, my daily tasks and accomplishments. Structure and routine, especially during times of terror (terror management theory), can create a navigable bridge between existential threats and meaning in life. (2) It’s safe to say, we are all searching for meaning.
Brand programming is not a novel concept
Developing programmed and repeatable content–articles, podcasts, videos–and operating like a media company signals to audiences that you are in it for the long haul. With our environment changing by this minute, this kind of perceived brand stability is crucial. For the brand, multiple, controlled touchpoints can help understand the ongoing needs of your customers while having a clear structure for your marketing plan. This is not new. For the past ten years industry leaders in the brand and content space have touted that brands need to become publishers and utilize owned and partner media channels to build community. Now, with the compression of marketing strategy to digital platforms, consider that recommendation a requirement.
Carlos “Tito Charly” Elizondo was a bagger at a grocery store in Mexico when he lost his job due to the pandemic. With his son, he started his own line of food products and a repeatable format, a YouTube cooking show, where his products are featured ingredients. Currently, he has 453,000 subscribers and sells his food through Whatsapp. In 2016, Singaporean Bank, DBS, launched a scripted series, Sparks, based on true client stories, that follows a team of bankers solving client problems from housing to waste management, in an effort to show that banking is more than transactions. Now in Season 2, Episode 7, which aired last week, and shot during the pandemic, uses a Zoom-like format depicting the DBS team helping a client, a famous chef, find partners for his new non-profit dedicated to solving food shortage by connecting him to Mr. Szeto, whose chain of hotels finds him stuck with too much food. This series has garnered over 250 million views and 24 million digital engagements and is responsible for 9% of the pipeline for the entire bank. Impressive. Walmart created a camp app for kids this summer that offers a series of free virtual classes, challenges, and crafts featuring celebrity counselors like Neil Patrick Harris and LeBron James.
Ready to program your brand?
Whether you’re an upstart like Tito Charly, a large CPG brand like Walmart, or a service like DBS bank, budgets big or small, it is within your power to develop valuable content around core offerings and initiatives that will enlighten audiences and create loyalty. Your customers will not soon forget the brands that stuck with them. I am on this journey with you as we program our agency, Far From Timid. We started with a new magazine, Honey Pot. This article you're reading right now is part of our brand programming. It's part of our “brand trust’ initiative to drive you to discover a non-profit we founded, Big Yellow Think Tank, whose mission is to change the way the marketing and advertising industry works. by breaking down silos to build brand trust.
If you want me to get deeper into how to actually program your brand and where to begin, let me know, and I will follow up with a series of articles or record a series of videos around this. If you want to talk to me, schedule some Brand Therapy time here, it’s free.
- Small businesses (less than 500 employees and less than $7mm in revenue) make up 52.4% of the workforce vs large corporations at 47.6%. In a survey of small and large businesses, 57% of respondents believe “remote work will continue after stay-at-home orders lifted” and 67% of respondents from large corporations “expect work-from-home policies will remain in place permanently or at least for the long term” with companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter leading that charge.