The shape of things to come or back to basics? – by Viola’s Ahmed El Sherbini

By Ahmed El Sherbini, integrated client services director, Viola Communications

Over the last ten years or so, the communications world has been witness to a series of major shifts and evolution in every aspect, each of which has added a new layer of vocabulary while leading to change in consumer buying behaviour, the way we consume content, and how we interact with brands; e- Commerce, digital apps, social media platforms, influencer marketing, big data, clouds and algorithms … the list goes on, and it’s rapidly expanding.

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During the last three years of COVID and its associated change in lifestyle, socialising and working habits, the overall digital experience and transformation has not only fast forwarded consumer attitudes but also other key areas in our lives such as education and healthcare, and, of course, the on-line experience.

The so-called new generations, such as “Generation Z” and “Post Millennials” are so focused on social media platforms and videos that they may forget that this is just another trend; a passing phase that will evolve and be replaced by new platforms and technologies in the future, something us Gen X Millennials understand only too well having grown up with billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio and television – in fact, anything that existed before the ‘information age’. Social media, digital ads, videos, and cultural influencers are just another medium to promote a client’s product or services – but should they be the only way?

Perhaps now is the time to go back to basics, to understand how all the well-known brands around the world have not only survived over all these years, but have maintained or even improved their positioning.

While Tesla, Apple and Uber are among today’s most notable brands, have Coca Cola, Harley-Davidson or Kellogg’s been forgotten? No, of course not, because they live the way they always have – by the brand values, mission and vision that were created many, many years ago, in fact, over 100 years in all three examples.

These days, we see so much passion, entrepreneurial spirit and futuristic talent in Gen Z, and we baby- boomers know that they will definitely conquer the marketing and business world for the foreseeable future – but without those old-school traits of planning and focusing on the core essence of what their brand means, and its purpose, then there is a danger that short-term innovation will not be sustainable.

It’s simple. A brand is a brand no matter what type of service or product you are trying to promote, and its future depends on it remaining at the forefront of whatever marketing strategy is in place. As today’s mass consumption habits have become more and more fragmented, successful brands have leveraged their timeless appeal and adapted to stay current – it is our job to ensure that this cultural (and fiscal) relevance is carried forward across the next generations, whatever we call them.