There's a quiet brilliance in good, effective advertising that, beyond the occasional Cannes Lion award probably won't go recognized by the everyday consumer. And it lies in the subtlety of those messages, and in the brands that are able to effectively market a message or an idea without actually 'advertising' it. Like Coca Cola's 'Open Happiness', or Nike's 'Just Do It' ad campaigns, most successful brands have figured out a way to market their brand and their products through subtle, but effective forms of advertising.
Here's how brands have used the web in all of its variations in order to effectively market themselves without necessarily 'advertising'.
The web is perhaps one of the simplest mediums with which to communicate with consumers, and yet it still remains one of the most perplexing for a lot of big brands. As likely as you are to find a beautiful, inviting web presence like Pepsi or Mountain Dew, you're also just as likely to find something as overwhelming and off-putting as IBM or GE.
And while those latter two examples -- IBM and GE -- probably serve as great informational pamphlets, they don't really do much in the way of drawing in consumers to an experience. In fact, it can even be argued that their websites are daunting from a user experience standpoint, both with thousands upon thousands of pages.
Pepsi and Mountain Dew, on the other hand, emphasize the experiences of using their products and provide their visitors with a plethora of unique ways to interact with the brand, inviting engagement and naturally working to market those brands.
Social media is perhaps the most subtle of these various art forms, as convincing people to be openly participatory and active through social media is quite a challenge for a lot of brands. Still, there are many that have been able to create extremely responsive communities through social media. Two great examples are Starbucks and Whole Foods, big brands that have been able to effectively leverage their customer base in order to foster communities that are as lively as anything on the web on both Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
Starbucks has managed to foster a community with over 30 million likes on Facebook, often posting about its latest products, offers, and any philanthropic events that Starbucks is supporting on a regular basis. Its posts regularly receive tens of thousands of likes, comments and shares, marketing the Starbucks brand to potentially hundreds of thousands more every post.
Whole Foods, on the other hand, has created an alternative customer support center through their Twitter feeds (of which they have many), encouraging consumers to ask them questions with the promise that they will be answered from 9-5 during the week. And it's worked extremely well, helping Whole Foods build relationships with a wide range of consumers, while simultaneously marketing themselves to thousands upon thousands of new faces every day.
Finally, mobile applications are quickly becoming the newest go-to method for brands to market to consumers through their mobile devices. From food places allowing consumers to place orders using their smart phones, to outdoors brands that allow mobile users to find the nearest trail, brands have begun expanding into the mobile applications arena in an effort to not only get people interacting with their brands through their mobile devices, but to also provide a more direct connection between their products and consumers.
Nike + is perhaps the best example of this, providing consumers with an ecosystem that ultimately connects Nike's mobile application -- Nike + -- with Nike's other products, including much of their athletic equipment. And it essentially allows Nike to effortlessly market their brand and even track their consumers habits with a product that consumers ultimately want to use.
What are some of the best examples you've seen of brands marketing themselves without advertising?
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc.
Mario Mirabella is the Founder and Creative Director of MSM DesignZ, Inc., a full service multimedia company located in Westchester County, NY that specializes in design and development, social media branding and management, search engine optimization, mobile applications and marketing. Since 1999, MSM DesignZ has been providing businesses with a comprehensive solution to increase their online presence and overall brand awareness.