SXSW Interactive Musings Part I: Future of Communication Will Be Based on Patterns

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

From the common activities of life to the way people work and conduct business, technology is reshaping society at a frightening velocity.  Businesses must adapt to a cataclysmic marketing shift as a result of technology blurring the lines between disciplines and reshaping how information is disseminated across multiple channels.  Brands that have withstood the test of time are at risk – just ask executives from Kodak, Encyclopedia Britannica, Barnes & Noble and the United States Postal Service.

Rethinking the Communication Paradigm

To remain relevant, the future of communication will need to morph from static messaging to dynamic patterns of personal expression to create a more fluid and meaningful brand story. This will be woven through a new marketing mix comprised of multiple layers (physical, digital, mobile, social and virtual/ augmented layers) and utilized by all disciplines.

Marketers needs to recognize that the way we treat the current marketing mix is broken, and the way messages are constructed needs to evolves to match worldwide cultural transformations.  Media is so dense and fragmented – and only getting worse – that the industry needs rethink what integrated marketing means.  They also need to recognize that public relations has the capacity to create synergies.

Anything messaging, whether it stems from brand outreach or consumers, can end up anywhere. This makes it difficult to create consistency and uniformity. Facebook made it clear that its platform is no longer about one-off messages, but stories.  The idea of brand story isn’t a new one, but new technologies are making it possible for brands to share stories in unique ways.  The challenge is that brand stories are still being written. Unless your brand is Borders Books, it’s still a living, breathing entity that is history in the making.

Shifting Messaging into Shareable Patterns

Marketers rely on key messages to shape brand communications, but customers aren’t interested in brand messaging.  People are interested in experiences and being part of something that is meaningful.  If we think about key messages as musical riffs or motifs, then it is easy to recognize that too much repetition can become mundane and is easily forgettable.

Imagine if the opening motive of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony never changed and remained at the same pitch. The dramatic opening would have been lost and one of classical music’s most memorable works would have ended up forgotten. Brands can treat the ideas behind messaging as different patterns that can be woven through a fun, more memorable experience.  Fans can take brand patterns and share them in the places and manner they desire.

As society continues to adopt new gadgetry, there is great opportunity for every business to leverage technology and allow fans to play a pivotal role in shaping a brand’s story. Smartphones and tablets are becoming modern society’s new remote control serving as a bridge between staying connected with family and friends, changing how society shops  for groceries and controls their homes, vehicles and more. Brands will have new opportunities to learn about their consumers by collecting data and can build better brand experiences by understanding modified habits.

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a closer look at a reformulated marketing mix, and how public relations is at the epicenter.

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