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Digital marketing in a laboratory?

Photo from Digital Marketing Lab in Singapore, 2014
On of the many active, collaborative, parts of the Digital Marketing Lab in Singapore, 2014.

Earlier this year I was in Singapore running a 4-day lab on digital marketing. Running it as in collaborating with Hyper Island (and the wonderful Maria, who’s responsible for the Labs within Hyper Island) in tailoring the different parts of the content around which to, well, lab.

Other labs include rapid prototyping and social – both very suitable to do hands-on lab type of workshops, especially rapid prototyping of course. Our first collective challenge with this lab was actually figuring out the labs ingredient.

A laboratory (/ləˈbɒrətəri/ or /ˈlæbərətri/; informally, lab) is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research,experiments, and measurement may be performed.

We were definitely in a controlled environment. For 4 full days in a large, open, area approximately 20 people with different backgrounds worked together. Representatives from Google, business consultants figuring out what to do next, community managers, account directors, digital creatives and even recruitment professionals. We were experimenting with propositions, hypotheses and opinions – all open for debate. Hypotheses around how organisations needed to, perhaps, rethink and reorganize how marketing was viewed, budgeted and executed. Very much perceptions of what has been true, but not necessarily anymore.

One key challenge we gave the participants was a hands-on assignment – a brief – from a multinational brand, very much recognized for having momentum and guts to rethink its existence and purpose. Both from a consumer product/brand point of view, but also from an organizational sustainability point of view. This assignment was evaluated by key representatives from the company (the measurement part). My role very much being that of a nudger, suggester, questioner. Without digging into the ideas – there were some really great stuff, some of it actually already in the pipeline within that organisation which says something about its commercial viability. Impressive.

A participant’s recap and reflections on the digital marketing lab

I’m not going to share anything detailed, because one of the participants has shared a quite extensive summary of the digital marketing lab. It’s one individual’s summary, and someone else might recall it differently. But what strikes me is how some of the content that I shared (Simon Kemp of We Are Social, Singapore also shared his) is obviously referred to and has thankfully been helpful. I like that.

Posting your video on YouTube does not make it Digital Storytelling. Building a story of your brand, creating an experience, a feeling, a journey (that holds together across platforms), something worth remembering – and telling others about. That’s digital storytelling

But. If I were to highlight a few key nuggets that I keep coming back to as fundamentally important, from the digital marketing lab but also from doing presentations and workshops (and everyday work) around digital strategy (challenges), they’d be a bit different and framed in another way. Which brings me to the conclusion that I probably need to get my stuff together and share it in a properly packaged and connected manner. Easy to share with more people. Easy for people who have been in workshops to access and refresh or get clarification.

So, in a while I suppose this will be a link to the first of a series of post. Which means this post about a lab participant’s post is a trailer for posts to come.

modern day brand building – advertising as a byproduct?

Welcome to Detroit from Shinola on Vimeo.

This is a nice post by Edward Boches covering Shinola, a brand I myself just recently came across flipping through Men’s Style on Flipboard (ehrm), and how well they build their brand (so far).

What’s noteworthy is that this is not about building a brand in a new way, often including opinions around the death of TV, the insanity of bought media and extinction of print. And it’s not a case of proving how traditional advertising still works. It’s about how modern brands understand it’s not either/or, it all compliments each other, and that the most powerful thing is to have a purpose, and hence story, beyond – but not irrelevant to – the commercial interest.

This isn’t about going viral or driving millions of views, rather it’s more about telling the brand story, providing easily embeddable elements, and building a library of content that doesn’t feel as disposable as most advertising.

Boches

The thing with advertising being disposable and, in general, increasingly being disliked, distrusted and enjoying less acceptance is an interesting one. It’s not just that there’s more and more bad, lazy, poorly crafted advertising speaking in a voice that’s disconnected from reality, it’s that there’s often not much of a counter weight.

Advertising, at least as we tend to narrowly define it today, should be no more than a byproduct (and certainly not the sole product) of a commercially curious creative company.

Gareth Kay

People are ad literate enough to understand how advertising works – polished by agencies, constructed and often exaggerated – but if that’s all a brand is going to serve, then screw you. If a brand opens up and shows a greater depth, signs of being in sync with society, people, vision, reality, you are much more likely to enjoy a greater acceptance to your advertising.

Think about a great brand experience you’ve had, and how that affects your perception/acceptance of their advertising. That’s brand experiences in a broader sense.

Increasingly, to get meaningfully noticed is through delivering on the unexpected and over-delivering on the expected. Not very advertising centred, but very much commercial creativity.