Even in Singapore, far from the mountains of Uganda and the San Diego headquarters of the Invisible Children nonprofit, the #kony2012 viral campaign has spread like wildfire. Despite debate over the movie and nonprofit’s merit, one thing is clear: they “did produce a hell of a video.”
Chances are, your company is not a nonprofit. Your brand isn’t spearheading a campaign to make a war criminal pay for his crimes against humanity. And to date, you probably haven’t published a video online that’s gained hundreds of thousands of views within a few days.
Nonetheless, there are at least five ideas your brand can—and should—steal from the Kony 2012 campaign.
1. Harness the power of emotions
Clearly, the Kony 2012 video was intended to pull at our heartstrings (it uses every trick in the book—dramatic music, cute children, footage of a 20-year old deaf woman hearing her own voice for the first time). You may think your brand lacks the drama to pull it off, but never underestimate your brand’s emotional potential. If Cisco—with such hot products as the ASR 1000 Series Aggregation Services Router—can inspire us by describing the “human network” that connects us all, there must be some emotional territory for your brand to stake out.
What is your brand’s emotional benefit to customers?
2. Define an opponent
Joseph Kony is a real-life bad guy, but a brand can have a nemesis, too. Apple was the anti-IBM, then the anti-Microsoft. Pepsi tries to position against Coke, and Facebook tries to lure the best employees from Google. At an insurance company I once worked for, we had floor-mats that read “Beat AIG.” A common enemy, even if regarded with a playful spirit of competition, can galvanize a workforce and inspire great work, sometimes more effectively than a traditional vision or mission statement.
Who or what is the opposite, antithesis or enemy of your brand’s success?
The Kony 2012 video states “The next 27 minutes are an experiment.” Reports suggest “Invisible Children themselves did not expect their campaign to become as successful as it did—as quickly as it did.” They gave it a shot, and it worked. All too often, bigger brands are inhibited—afraid to push the envelope or defy expectations. But taking risks is what keeps brands alive and interesting. Innovation requires risking, and brand differentiation often entails going against the grain.
How are you experimenting with your brand to make sure it stays relevant?
4. Join the conversation
Expected or not, the Kony 2012 video started a global conversation. Invisible Children has since felt some negative effects of instant stardom, including claims that they are misusing funds and oversimplifying a complex problem. But the nonprofit has not shied away from the publicity or lashed out against their accusers. Instead, they are calmly engaging their detractors, offering financial transparency, responses to critiques and clear, succinct emails explaining their point of view. It’s often said that people are talking about your brand whether you’re part of the conversation or not, so why not join in?
Are you participating in the conversations about your brand, online and off, or pretending they don’t exist?
5. Insist on high production values
Watching the Kony 2012 video, I was struck by the fact that this relatively unknown nonprofit had produced such a polished short film. While your organization may not upload a movie to Vimeo anytime soon, your brand is surely supported by graphic design, a website, copywriting, marketing materials, product or service names and perhaps advertising. A rule of medical ethics that I believe applies equally well in the creative and design arena is “First, do no harm.” That is, if you know you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all, or keep it as simple as possible until you’re able to work with a professional.
What are your brand’s “touchpoints”? Would you describe them as creative, well-designed and exhibiting high production values?
Rob Meyerson, Strategy Director, FutureBrand
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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