SOURCE: Mechanica


October 04, 2011 08:00 ET

Mechanica and Fast Company Unveil First Ever "Discovery Platform" Combining Survey Data With Real Time Dialog to Track and Explore Forces Transforming the World of Marketing and Branding

The Joint Project Suggests the Need for Sweeping Changes to How Corporations Create and Manage Their Brands and Marketing Programs

NEWBURYPORT, MA and NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Oct 4, 2011) - Against the backdrop of major cultural, political, economic and technological changes, next generation brand development firm Mechanica and Fast Company today unveiled the results of their status quo challenging Branding Forward Project. Mechanica partnered with Fast Company -- one of today's most influential publications covering the intersection of business, technology and popular culture -- to create a data-driven, ongoing discovery platform for tracking changes and revealing opportunities in the worlds of marketing and branding. Through initially surveying hundreds of senior marketing executives on how their approach to brand building is evolving in light of today's tumult and opportunities, and making this data readily available for engagement and real-time dialog on the innovative online discovery platform, the door has been opened for a broad-scale reassessment of marketing and branding best practices, priorities and processes.

Branding in Transition
The Branding Forward Project is an ongoing, interactive research-based collaboration that is mapping the challenges and opportunities faced by those on today's branding front lines -- while providing the analysis and tools marketers need as they rewrite the rules of branding for these tumultuous times. The Branding Forward Project's survey of nearly 700 senior marketers and CEOs (both in-house and at agencies) has found that while the branding world is undergoing massive, polarizing transition, the only constant that marketers can bank on is change. A summary of the major findings reveal:

  • Companies highly divided on many critical issues:
    • 58% believe we're in a time of revolutionary change when it comes to how brands are created versus 42% fully maintain that clinging to the fundamentals is the approach
    • 51% believe consumer generated marketing is inherently more relevant and effective versus 49% favoring traditional agency created approaches
    • 51% believe it's more important than ever to tightly control the message versus 49% believe that companies must learn to surrender control
    • 48% believe following the research is the only way to make tough decisions versus 52% believe that research has serious limitations
  • However, a number of disruptive trends are reaching a critical mass tipping point:
    • 68% believe we need to shift our reliance on broad-based media to more of a one-to-one focus
    • 60% believe it's better to partner with a team of best in class specialists for creating marketing programs rather than working with a traditional integrated agency
    • 72% believe that contributing to brand thinking needs to be opened up to the entire organization rather than being tightly controlled by marketing
    • 73% believe the days of being a slave to strategic consistency are over and now it's much more about inspiration and engagement
  • The "buzz factor" isn't translating into effectiveness. There is a fundamental and troubling lack of alignment between those marketing concepts generating the greatest familiarity and buzz versus those concepts having demonstrated proven effectiveness. For example:
    • Content based marketing tops the list of those marketing concepts with greatest client familiarity (81%), yet only 24% have realized proven effectiveness with content-based programs
    • 78% of clients are highly familiar with Branded Apps, despite the fact that only 13% have realized proven effectiveness
    • 68% are familiar with Crowdsourcing approaches yet only 13% have realized proven effectiveness with such programs
  • Emerging marketing concepts -- driven by creating ongoing, one-to-one customer relationships -- are shaping corporate brands like never before
    • Developing and maintaining ongoing customer relationships, thinking and acting from a brand perspective beyond just the marketing department and linking marketing and social media programs to ROI top the list of investment priorities
  • Long-term strategies being aggressively shaped by more holistic and more innovative approaches
    • Focusing on the entire user experience, thinking about branding more holistically and using innovative media thinking top the list of forces impacting long-term strategic thinking

Making Sense of the Numbers and Helping Marketers Move Forward
While many things are clearly still very much in flux, what is clear is that the world of client and agency marketing and brand thinkers are scrambling to identify an evolved set of proven tools and approaches for this still young branding century. Whether it's the emphasis on new media (77%) over traditional; the need for brand thinking to be opened up to the entirety of the organization (72%); the shift from mass to more of a one-to-one focus (68%); or the move from integrated agencies to teams of best-in-class specialists (60%), the one constant is change. However, the big undecided question remains for now: Is it best to respond to this new frontier by applying the fundamentals or lean into fresh, new approaches?

So what specific steps can marketers take to successfully build their brand today? The highly divided and innovation-driven nature of the survey responses suggest that rather than a series of one-size fits all prescriptions, what is needed is an ongoing, data-driven dialog to aid marketers and their agency partners to arrive at solutions relevant to their situation. This is why instead of serving up the learnings in a traditional report, the Branding Forward Project has chosen to use the research insights as raw material to fuel an ongoing Discovery Platform at Through engaging the data on this discovery platform with other marketers and thought leaders, marketers will be able to answer questions such as the following:

  • What is the best way to constructively open up the branding development process to a broader range of internal and external influences?
  • What does the integration of social media and personalized experiences look like?
  • As the entirety of the user experience figures more prominently in branding thinking, how will "campaigns" come to be defined?
  • Is the core notion of the creative "big idea" undergoing transformative change? What will it become? How will it be defined? Who will create it?
  • How can the strengths of a traditional integrated agency with the growing client preference for best-in-class specialists be best combined?
  • How important is it to create a corporate "test and learn" culture that fosters the adoption of innovative marketing concepts balanced with thoughtful ROI measurement?

"The results of the Branding Forward Project survey underscore what has become increasingly true of the marketing and branding world: there are no one-size fits all solutions or pat answers," said Ted Nelson, chief executive officer and strategy director, Mechanica. "The data from this broad-based and insight-driven survey, combined with the ability to actively engage and discuss it with other practitioners on the Branding Forward Project discovery platform, creates a unique tool for marketers and agencies looking to move from convention-driven best practices to 'What's best for me and my brand?'"

About Mechanica

MECHANICA, an eight-year old Newburyport, Mass. based firm employs twenty strategists, creative directors and brand directors pioneering a new approach to creating compelling, profitable brand experiences. MECHANICA's innovative approach removes the barriers between product, organization, and brand development efforts through integrating deep strategic engagements with governing brand ideas and network-based collaboration. This results in an unprecedented level of strategic relevancy, creative flexibility and resultant business growth. Current and recent MECHANICA clients include: Saucony, Aeroshot Pure Energy, Fallon Community Health Plan, Communispace, Kronos, PTC, Abt Associates, Symantec, and the U.S. State Department.

About Fast Company

Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business-media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders. Editor Robert Safian was named AdWeek's Editor of the Year in 2009. Under the leadership of publisher Christine Osekoski, Fast Company has made AdWeek's Hot List for three consecutive years, and executive editor Noah Robischon has tripled traffic and revenue year over year. Fast Company is owned by Joe Mansueto, founder, chairman, and CEO of Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research.

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