I have previously written about how companies utilise the consumer by advertising their brand name through personalisation (i.e., by displaying individual names on a product like Coca-Cola or using Facebook advertising to be in line of sight to the consumer by displaying adverts of products they have been viewing online). The consumer essentially becomes a marketing tool. But what if this develops further in the future? What if the consumer becomes the primary distributor in content marketing?
Building a branded community
In the last few months I’ve had a couple of people approach me about becoming a ‘distributor’ for a company called Isagenix. They provide ‘dietary and wellness supplements’. It’s essentially a pyramid scheme or ‘multi-level marketing’ business, where distributors make a profit from selling the company’s products, but also source potential distributors and make a profit from building the Isagenix community.
They become a brand representative. They have been accused of being ‘cult-like’ which seems a little extreme. Isagenix followers live by the company’s values and encourage others to join by adopting their lifestyle. I have a couple of friends who are involved. They frequently share company content online, attend conferences and talks with key speakers, and generally integrate the company’s ethos and values into their own lives. They become brand ambassadors and part of a manufactured community.
The disciples of consumerism
What if this idea of ‘branded community’ became the future, where a brand became integrated into a consumer’s lifestyle and made them a disciple, of sorts? It sounds far fetched, but think about some of the larger brands around today. They are already well ingrained into many people’s lives. Take Apple; you don’t need to be a technology geek to be loyal to the brand. From your mobile phone, to your computing device, to the various accessories – some people are connected to an Apple device every hour of every day.
Another example is Red Bull. It began life as an energy drink, but many consumers now associate the brand with extreme sports, TV shows or space-leaping base-jumpers. When Red Bull is involved, you know about it from the clothing their ‘brand ambassadors’ wear to the events the company promotes. What if Red Bull integrated their brand style and ethos into the mainstream and targeted a demographic that lived by the values and ethos of the brand? What if a brand became a way of life in the same way as religion?
Are you being tracked?
Recruiting these ambassadors is simple. It’s quite a sinister thought, but with the tracking and measuring capabilities of digital marketers, you could already be tagged as a loyal follower. Marketers are becoming savvier in the way they measure the activity of consumers online and evaluate their potential ‘brand ambassadors’ using SEO software to find the most loyal customers. This could be through click-rate or time spent online. Consumers unknowingly take on the role of marketer to benefit the brand.
If you’re interested in creating authentic brand ambassadors using storytelling, give us a call.