In early March, Zero Degrees West headed down to Marketing Week Live to catch a glimpse of the latest trends, techniques and voices making a difference to our industry in 2018.

One of the notable speakers we had the pleasure of listening to was Marketing Week columnist, Mark Ritson, as he spoke to a packed audience of marketers about how the industry may have actually lost sight of what matters; instead of focusing on brand awareness and image, companies are too busy coming up with a more exaggerated (and more far fetched) brand purpose.

So, what is Brand Purpose?

Put simply, it is the specific reason why your company exists, not just the product you sell but also the reason consumers will invest in your brand over another. However, it appears brands are getting further and further away from the real picture. As Ritson notes,

Brands are suddenly messing around with societal things… their positionings have disappeared and they’ve adopted complete BS statements of societal mission.
Mark Ritson

Take McVities for example. World renowned for making delicious biscuits we Brits love with a cuppa. With the help of Grey London, the brand decided to make a more active push towards brand purpose with a £9.7 million campaign entitled ‘Sweeter Together’. Targeted at a younger audience, the campaign aims to illustrate that, in a society plagued with unending digital distractions, “the simple act of sharing can bring us all a bit closer”. But do consumers really believe a biscuit has the power to tackle isolation?

The results are in

Evidence suggests consumers aren’t buying it. A study by Trinity Mirror last year found that 42% of consumers distrust brands and nearly 70% distrust advertising, and the finger is being firmly pointed at one thing: misleading brand purpose.

84% of millenials don’t trust traditional advertising.

It is arguable that, to capture their attention, consumers need to be sold something more than just a product; they need to be sold a solution – an ideal. But we’re recognising that the ideal needs to be believable, it needs to leave no doubt in the customer’s mind that the lifestyle you’re offering is achievable and your product is the answer.

We’ve overestimated the role of brands in people’s lives.
Mark Ritson talking at the Marketing Deconstructed Seminar

When it comes to brand purpose, we think Trinity Mirror’s Zoe Harris makes the point clear: “Brands need to think about how they can connect with people in their day to day lives and whether their proof points are actually resonating. Is your message actually getting across?”

More than just the message

So, we understand the importance of a viable brand message but what about getting your message across in 2018. Here is what three industry experts had to say during Marketing Week Live:

1. TV vs Small Screen

It is shocking to learn that digital natives (someone who grew up during or after the adoption of widespread technology) have the attention span of a three year old when viewing content. Evidence shows they switch from TV to smartphone an average of 27 times per hour and this distraction is heightened even further when watching with a companion. Dr Carl Marci of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience spoke to us about reaching consumers on smartphones:

“What we’re seeing is that, in the environment of smaller screens, you’re much more likely to skip through and less likely to get through to the end of a 30” ad. Length actually makes a difference when using smaller screens… On a smaller screen, shorter is better, brand early and often and make sure your brand logo, copy and tagline are bigger relative to the screen.”

2. “The Amateur Tweets, The Professional Works”

Should we be rethinking Twitter as a preferred marketing platform? According to Colin Lewis, it turns out “Twitter is the biggest time-suck going”. Strong words, especially seeing as the platform has 330 million monthly active users. So, why does the Marketing Week columnist have such a vehement distaste to the social network?

“The thing that drives me nuts is the phrase that newspaper’s use, ‘the internet is blowing up with [name your stupid topic]’. No. A very small, elite percentage of the world, with a lot of spare time on their hands, is talking about something they think other people are interested in… On a daily basis people spend less than 60 seconds on the platform.”

Marketing Weeks Tanya Joseph backed up her colleague’s statement about marketing on Twitter, “it’s not broadcasting, it’s narrowcasting”.

3. Making Video Go Further

We already know the successes of using video in marketing, but how can you get the best potential ROI on your executions. Dan Steele, Strategic Director at Brightcove talked about effective video across all stages of the customer lifecycle.

“Video has a large impact on SEO and reach. Have your video front and center of your website and adding a transcript of your video can help with searchability.”

81% of people spend more time on a website with video…
60% of people are more likely to convert when they interact with a video
Dan Steele

As we know, marketing is forever growing and adapting. Recognising these shifts in audience perception and consumer behaviour is vital to shaping your next campaign. It will be interesting to see where this takes us in 2019, but for now we should be confident that communicating an honest representation of your brand or product and delivering that in a way which truly works for your target audience is key for any brand strategy.

If you would like to find out how Zero Degrees West can help create marketing that’s right for your brand in 2018, feel free to contact Rosie, our lovely Account Director at