Focus on fundamentals in 2019, not shiny new toys

January is the time for bold predictions about how the world of marketing will be revolutionised in the year ahead. But Tom Fishburne’s timely cartoon reminds us of the risks of becoming overly excited about the latest sexy, shiny new thing.

That excitement can keep us informed but it can also distract us from what may actually be most important for our brand and our business,” Tom suggests. He also highlights a second issue of focusing on the latest new marketing toys: “It can also keep us tethered to the marketing herd, chasing the same tactics as everyone else.”

Our own brandgym research backs up what Tom is saying in his cartoon, as I outline below.

Brand positioning remains key to growth …

Over 90% of marketing directors we surveyed for the latest brandgym book agreed that a clear brand positioning is key to effective marketing in today’s digital age.

Indeed, a clear and compelling brand idea is more important than ever today to conduct the ever-enlarging ‘orchestra of brand musicians’ delivering the brand over multiple channels.

… but gets overlooked!

However, the problem today, as Tom brilliantly illustrates in his cartoon, is that most marketing directors also agree that brand strategy is getting overlooked given all the focus on digital/social marketing (see below).

As Mark Ritson recently commented, “Marketing seems to be devolving into a tactical pursuit, devoid of strategic thinking”.

Re-focus on the fundamentals

So, go ahead and read the reports of how everything will change in 2019 as technology continues to send shock waves through the world of brands and business.

But also use the new year as an opportunity to review your brand positioning. It is clear, sharp, compelling and inspiring? If not, its worth investing some time and effort in getting it right, as no amount of sexy execution will save you if your brand strategy is weak.

In addition, as we’ve posted on many times, the best way to grow your brand is to blend the best of proven, more conventional techniques with new approaches that reflect our digital age (see below). A good example is Direct Line, covered in a recent post here. Based on data showing the enduring effectiveness of TV advertising, Direct Line Group’s share of 2017 TV spend was double its market share, thus avoiding the risk of ‘following the herd’ that Tom highlights.

In conclusion, we suggest starting the new year by having one eye on the future of marketing, but the other eye on the enduring fundamentals of brand strategy that that remain key to success.