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Picture: 123RF/melpomen
Picture: 123RF/melpomen

There is a saying that reach is no longer a scarce commodity. Attention is.

Living in the “goldfish era” — a period where people have an eight-second attention span (goldfish, rather ironically, have a nine-second one), are “always on” and are bombarded by competing demands for our time — means that brands must meet new consumer needs for convenience, value, sustainability and innovation. Grabbing attention and holding it is what counts.

In an increasingly competitive landscape, brands that invest in data, insights, people and marketing are the ones that will stand out. As brands increasingly expose their “human” side in an effort to be more authentic, some are being outed by social media when their efforts just don’t get it right.

In an overcrowded marketplace, having a narrative — a story that explains why a brand exists and how it is guided by a purpose — is becoming progressively more important.

A recent Future of Media Online event, moderated by Siya Sangweni, put the spotlight on the value of a shared narrative and the necessity of finding a purpose that elicits consumer trust through sustainable ethics and transparency.

Abey Mokgwatsane, chief marketing officer at Investec, defined purpose as the ability to connect what an organisation does with being a force for good. A brand or organisation’s purpose needs to matter; should be something that will make a difference in terms of resolving societal challenges; and needs to be sufficiently exciting to interest people. A clear purpose helps organisations have the clarity required to make a thousand decisions a day.

Nontokozo Madonsela, group chief marketing officer at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings, said its purpose helps Momentum to make business decisions. Deciding on a brand purpose is not done in boardrooms, she said. It requires recognising the brand or organisation’s history, and taking the business on the journey.

Pointing out that though it’s quite easy for a business in the financial services category to have a distinct purpose, Sydney Mbhele, chief executive of brand at Sanlam, said brands need to be purposeful in an authentic way — or risk having their messaging backfire on them.

In today’s business environment, building trust with consumers is a non-negotiable, said Lyndon Barends, MD of strategy, sales and marketing at Arena Holdings. Trust is established over time and requires the brand to behave reliably and consistently. Get it right and it results in improved return on investment, he said.

In response to a poll, 95% of delegates said they strive to be a purpose-led brand and 40% said they believe most “purpose-led” brands are truly authentic in what they are conveying to their consumers.

The Future of Media would not be possible without our sponsors: TymeBank, The MediaShop, TBWA\SA, The FM Redzone, Arena Holdings and Arena Events.

Watch the full discussion:

The next online event, Will a hyper-competitive world create instability in the advertising market?, will be taking place on May 19 at 10am. For more information or to register, click here.

The big take-out: A clear purpose helps organisations have the clarity required to make a thousand decisions a day.

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