The majority of brands do marketing very simply. They market what they have to sell: products or services, and their defining features, pricing, or benefits. But more visionary brands market something much more compelling than what they have to sell today. They champion a long-term vision for something meaningful that we can all get behind. Making this switch, from selling today’s products or services to selling a timeless, optimistic vision, can benefit us all—and drive business success in the short and long term.
IBM champions a Smarter Planet rather than enterprise servers. Nike champions an athletic mindset rather than just Air soles. And American Express champions small business, not just the features of its cards. These are some of those visionary brands who have figured it out.
While people are craving meaning in their lives, and looking for brands that can help satiate that need, too many brands are selling what we have plenty of: features, options, fleeting lifestyle benefits.
Creating opportunity for people is a big, meaningful vision that goes to the core of our human values; creates economic opportunity, energises its users, partners, employees, and consumers.
Taking this approach works on a number of levels. It builds a deep emotional connection with people who share the brands’ values, and it’s clear now that for most people, a choice of a brand is an investment in meaning, not just features—and a brands’ meaning can endure long after the features are out of date. By aligning interests, a brand sets up the potential for consumers participation around a shared objective, meaning the brand’s idea can travel "for free."
How can brands make this shift? It starts with a clear intention on what success really means for a brand. In the long term, how is the world better if your brand succeeds? Ask yourself, is that vision compelling enough that?