Branding Innovation – Follow Up

Because of the overwhelming response I received on the original Branding Innovation article about not providing “best-in-class” examples, here’s how existing major corporations communicate their brand messages in an innovative fashion.  These are several of the most acclaimed examples from this year.

Hootsuite created a marketing campaign “Unite Your Social Kingdoms” and created a video “Game of Social Thrones”, tying their brand to the wildly successful HBO “Game of Thrones” series.

Microsoft, with their “The Power of Story” to communicate their A. I. product “Cortana”, with the slogan “The smartest A.I. In The World, Has Your Back” campaign by telling stories not about the product, but about tear-jerking narratives with the theme of helping others.  

My all-time favorite was WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-time Giving:

McDonald’s, being constantly hit by negative press about the quality of their food, created an innovative campaign called “Customer Service Through Content”.  McDonald’s wanted to answer every food question, good or bad, that their customers had. They wanted people to embrace this information, their customers to be informed, and be perceived as a brand that speaks truth.  McDonald’s took on the challenge to review 450 questions per day and answer more than 10,000 in total with their commit to transparency.

GoPro created the “Jaw-Dropping Visual Content” campaign where GoPro’s uploaded what they called retina-blasting images and videos to their YouTube channel which has 2.7 million subscribers, and several hundred thousand subscribers to its alternate channels (WorldMX, and Tutorials). And on Instagram, where they have 4.2 million followers.

Here’s the problem.  This matches the definition of Branding Innovation but, they don’t provide any worthwhile take-aways.  They are merely examples of successful branding campaigns but don’t teach anything.  The fact is, they aren’t even innovative.

Hootsuite simply did what in marketing is called “camping on” or in SEO, “Trademark Sucking”.  They took an already successful product and just tied their product to the other successful brand, which could be considered copyright infringement.  That’s done all the time, it’s not innovative.

Microsoft chose “Story Telling”.  That been done a thousand times.  Even products like beer, accomplishes this in 30 or less.  So, I can’t award them the Innovation Star of Approval.

McDonald’s didn’t do anything new innovative either.  Transparency is the standard go to when you can’t fight negative press and perception any longer and hope to win.  You come out and surprise everyone with overwhelming transparency.    A few years ago Domino’s Pizza had a terrible perception problem.  That’s when the new CEO came out and said in the media “We know our box tastes better than our pizza, and we’re going to fix that with better ingredients!”  They raised the company share price from $2.50 a share to over $250 a share.  But, nothing Innovative here either.

And, GoPro, while being recognized as innovative, surely did nothing innovative by simply uploading great video testimonials.  Sorry, testimonials aren’t Innovative.

I can mention many other companies that elevated their brands through Branding Innovation such as Old Spice and GEICO, but…

Here’s the big picture problem with all this.  These are not take-ways or trends, they are simply only examples.  They don’t teach anything.  Camping On, Story Telling, Transparency, and Testimonials, while successful, doesn’t fit in the category of Innovation.

If you have any thoughts on how better to define Branding Innovation and can cite several truly outstanding examples, please contact me!

Lon Safko, Speaker, Trainer, bestselling author, and Innovator.

Lon LIVE !