Millennials have been raised in era where a paradox of choice has inverted the relationship between brand awareness and brand affinity. Traditionally, the greater awareness your brand earned represented an exponential increase in brand affinity. Today, the same is not true. Our market is constantly filled with brand noise and while you may be loud, the volume of your voice does not necessarily translate to Brand Love®. This is a result of the changing model of influence in market. It also stems from the millennial desire to discover the things they love on their own.
Remember, we are talking about millennials here. This the entrepreneurial generation. The ultimate DIYers. They are the most active consumers to date and they do not want to be told about your brand, they want to discover it on their own.
Today, consumers see value in the act of discovering brands that are unique to them. This is counterintuitive to larger brands that have benefited simply from scale and mass awareness. While obscurity is not the goal, inspiring consumers to explore new territory allows brands to maintain relevance and continue to modernize and reinvent how their place in the world parallels Millennial Mindset™ behaviors and aspirations.
The first step in brand discovery is inspiration. Today, modern brands must aim to inspire consumers to explore product/service categories as well as the brands within them.
The key objective of all brand communication must be to inspire consumers.
Modern brands can serve as a catalyst for introducing a consumer to a new category/activity/experience. Modern brands can also leverage the environment in which they exist to inspire consumers to enter the category and experience the brand.
Following inspiration, brands must encourage consumers to explore the given brand or category. Brands can then measure brand engagement by the consumer threshold for exploration (how easily consumers are able to explore a brand or category). Consumer experimentation is a major component of this; modern brands must create a low consumer barrier to entry by allowing consumers to “taste” the brand as an introduction without being forced to “buy-in” or “invest.” Give them the opportunity to explore without being sold into something and they will reward you.
Discover and Share
Once a consumer discovers a brand through inspiration and exploration, great modern brands encourage “sharing” post-discovery. While this may be a natural reaction for some consumers, great brands reinforce sharing often by offering a mechanism or incentive to do so. Consider what aspect of the brand is most impactful when amplified to potential new users – elevating this aspect of the overall brand experience while reinforcing opportunities to share will create a self-sustaining brand megaphone, leveraging current users armed to influence potential new users.
Targeting your key opportunities within this new path will be what sets your brand apart from the noise. While most companies are focused on having a voice in every possible avenue (which may not always be a bad thing) the most inspired brands are placing their bets where it makes the most sense and where they fit naturally. Does your brand have major exploration potential? Capitalize on that and meet your consumers where they are. If they discover you organically, rather than forced, you will see a quicker progression into the share.