Even PSA’s for bike helmets can amuse and entertain
Marketing is difficult—marketers need to draw in new customers while staying on trend, within guidelines, and on budget. It’s not for the faint of heart. Ironically, some of the most crave-able, iconic brands are also those with a whimsical, light-hearted touch in their messaging. They make looking good look easy.
Research shows that marketing efforts need to delight to appeal to the latest generation just coming into buying power. Companies need more than neon slogans to stand out from the competition—they need to promote emotive content that amuses and inspires.
Now trending: delightful branding
The need for delightful branding is even more relevant to the newest generation coming into buying power—Gen Z. Unlike earlier generations, who were enticed by bargains or brand loyalty, Gen Z is more interested in immersive marketing, such as video. They are also more compelled by brands that tell stories and promote causes.[i]
A recent interview with a Google exec by TechCrunch revealed the startling fact that 40% of Gen Z search for things like places to eat not on Google but on TikTok and Instagram, which rely on visual content to share information.[ii] Videos and images are efficient, captivating ways to tell a story. Now, more than ever, marketers must uncover and showcase their brand’s delightful aspects.
How to create a brand worthy of delight
Emily Heyward, Chief Brand Officer at Red Antler, gives a wonderful example of story-forward branding in her book Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One.[iii] After learning about mass shoe production’s harmful environmental impact, a New Zealand pro soccer player realized that the hardy wool produced by his native land might be the perfect solution. This idea spawned Allbirds, a company that manufactures sustainable woolen footwear.
Red Antler helped make Allbirds a success by building a story that connects with consumers emotionally. By buying shoes made from environmentally friendly, sustainable materials, they were doing their part to help the crisis (and looking good while doing it).
Is every brand worthy of delight?
But what if your product doesn’t include fluffy sheep, scenic New Zealand, or an on-trend mission? What about branding for a waste disposal company or tax agency?
Companies with products or services that don’t have mass appeal can still cultivate messaging that inspires and amuses. The key is identifying the emotional needs of your target market to create marketing content that connects. And the first step toward creating connections is investing time in reflecting on your company’s story and motivation. We can connect more deeply with consumers when we clearly understand who we are.
According to Heyward,
Brand should never be a deception; it should be a delightful expression of a product’s truth, and ultimately a positive force in people’s lives.iii
Taking time to understand your target market and the truth of your product or service will help you define the story you want to tell your audience. Looking deep into the mission and values of your company may also help identify an illustration you can elevate—something delightful for your target market.
Vikings make road safety interesting
A public safety announcement (PSA) recently featured in the 2021 British Arrow Awards is a great example of how to make a mundane product delightful. Denmark has a cycling-heavy culture, and the Danish Road Safety Council needed a way to encourage Danes to wear helmets while biking. They recognized that the public already knew helmets protect riders, so they avoided appealing only to safety. Instead, they tackled the real reasons why people forgo helmets: they worry helmets look silly or make them look weak and helmets itch.
The Danish ad agency &Co. worked with the Danish Road Safety Council to create a PSA that appealed to Dane’s most exciting national figures: the Vikings. They addressed these fears head-on, and the resulting product is genius:
& Co.’s PSA found a way to make a dull concept delightful by connecting with consumers. They appealed to Dane’s deadpan sense of humor and iconic cultural heritage to create an impactful, visually stunning product.
Delightful branding is hard but necessary
Imbuing emotion into your branding—logo, website, messaging, advertising, social content, printed materials—may feel daunting. Changing the status quo takes daring and courage. But taking risks to build a delightful brand will pay off in reaching and retaining new markets.
In the past, focusing messaging solely on the benefits of a product or service, such as durability or expense-to-quality ratio, attracted consumers. Today’s consumers are drawn in by delightful branding—messages that connect with their emotional needs and amuse and entertain. Does your brand delight?
[i]Bentley K. 30+ key tips for marketing to different generations. Smallbiz Technology. https://www.smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2019/01/30-key-tips-for-marketing-to-different-generations.html/. Published January 1, 2019. Accessed August 18, 2022.
[ii]Perez S. Google exec suggests Instagram and TikTok are eating into Google’s core products, Search and Maps. TechCrunch. https://techcrunch.com/2022/07/12/google-exec-suggests-instagram-and-tiktok-are-eating-into-googles-core-products-search-and-maps/?tpcc=tcplustwitter&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYnVzaW5lc3NpbnNpZGVyLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAEX2acNNH-eCOKPugDjqsueHeBniKwc4VpNozBG0W2S27v3NORmGA-wPBgKNdB_piepm0Zd-v75Qxw44-oLXVwlppGkZLgpP7Byd6MXA-V7e3CHk3on6KA6n4eFQFnJdn_8D9mFD_CEVOf0QnxkHzYUkcM2t8CBbfyiUJ3pQ8VkG. Published July 12, 2022. Accessed August 18, 2022.
[iii]Heyward, Emily. (2020). Obsessed: Building a brand people love from day one. Portfolio.