Tuesday, 22 February 2011

♔ 'Brand as Badge' – The Scion Art Case Study

Increasingly consumers are defining themselves by what and whom they associate with. To wit, what your brand represents is an integral part of peoples identity by association.  This brand ‘shorthand’ is a testament to ones beliefs and values. It’s a badge and by definition, is a characteristic mark, device (or token) especially of membership in a society or group.  It's also an imperative element to creating an aspirational identity that’s relevant to the consumer (and coincidentally the key in getting people to want to be associated with your brand.)

This is precisely why many savvy brands are focusing on social good today.  A brand’s 'badge' is largely based on the identity and imagery that consumers freely and naturally associate with it.  It serves as a means of social identity to represent one’s place in the world. Consumers adopt your brand today as a badge because of a shared mission or purpose - something that by proxy makes them both look and feel good about themselves.

As we’ve stated in previous posts, what’s also become clear today is that this ‘connected collective’ build modern brands.  Tribes of like-minded people aligned by something other then (and bigger then) the brand itself.  A unifying, overarching idea or movement facilitated by the brand.  From billionaires to bands and from consumers to brands, people and organisations are reordering their priorities and causing global change across a range of interconnected spaces from honesty and fair employment practices to communal, social and environmental responsibility and simply being nice. The marketing community, from individual advertising figures to new agencies and business structures, is helping drive this ethical movement.

Whether BMW’s ‘Activate the Future’ Initiative (building community around the future of mobility), Pepsi’s Refresh Project (giving away millions each month to fund refreshing ideas that change the world), MINI’s Space initiative  (building community around creative use of space), or other great examples – what’s become clear is that the connected collective is driving an ethical, moral and responsible advertising revolution. Brands are reordering their priorities and causing global change across a range of interconnected spaces - from honesty and fair employment practices to communal, social and environmental responsibility.  Other brand examples include GE's Ecomagination, Tom's Shoes' 'Buy-one, give-one' model, and Benetton's Africa Works microfinance scheme.  Admittedly, some are more altruistic than others but all examples of the brand as incubator, steward and shepherd. 

Scion Art champions and supports independent artistic expression with a permanent gallery in Los Angeles, an annual art tour across the U.S., monthly gallery sponsorships, custom artist created cars, and other activities that reinforce the brands core values and defines it’s constituents.

The Scion Collection Art Tour extends the brand via facilitated events across the U.S. to meet their constituents via art, music, fashion and culture. Artists featured included graffiti artists, mural artists, painters, and sculpture artists. To further amplify Scion added professional action sports athletes to the mix.  Scion stepped up and championed underground culture and this community (coincidentally Scion’s target demographic) was given a badge.  Scion garnered real street-cred by supporting those who had real street cred. Other examples of this are Red Bull’s King of the Ring and their own history in street art.  All messaging and media aligned with the brand’s unique consumer “role” and naturally this movement was supported online via website, Scion.com, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr and MySpace

The bottom line is that to succeed today you need to translate your brand attributes into nothing less then a social movement. Find your constituents and given them a badge via inspiration, distruption and value. Find a shared mission or purpose that stem from the essence of an idea that people feel passionate about.  Something shared, credible, valuable and contagious that resonates with your target consumers (and by proxy ensures an emotional link and organic connection with your brand.)  Kudos to Scion - for making ‘less about the moment and more about the movement’.  Extending one powerful unifying, overarching idea (facilitated by the brand) that seeks to aggregate and align like-minded people by extending something other then (and bigger then) the brand itselfVery impressive indeed.

NOTE:  For more articles and posts from the last week please visit us on Twitter@goodbuzz.  If you have info, articles, case studies, or other examples of (TTL) participatory marketing bliss - please feel free to either post via Facebook or send via e-mail and we’ll take care of it for you. ;)  Please identify if you find a dead link (as they were all live at the time of this posting).