Digital & Social Media

How One Good Insight Can Refresh Your Brand

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Once upon a time, in the PR world, if you had mastered the media channels, you generally commanded the room.

Today, it’s the person with the best insights who drives the agenda. These are the same people who are unafraid to face “big data” and make it “small.” By that I mean we make it specific and useful, like a crystalline catalyst that liberates our most powerful thinking.

Great insights make us think about something or someone, even ourselves, differently, and that’s the fun of it. Let’s face it, we’re all smart people, and we draw upon thousands of assumptions each day based on what we think we know. But more and more often, we are running headlong into brain-splitting insights, ones that threaten our own preconceptions about what works, what doesn’t work and what we should do about it.

That may give us pause. Yet the real danger is when we don’t dig, dig and then dig some more, then think about what we find, evaluate what it means and then uncover that mind-opening truth. Why? Because that insight might make us squirm when we realize we really didn’t know as much as we thought we did.

You’ve got to use every tool in your toolbox (including our inquisitive and creative minds) to build the foundation for that intuitive leap. That foundation, built on research and facts, is critical to ensuring that ideas are strong and magnetic; magnetic because they attract people who are responding to an insight they may not even know resonates with them.

We’ve seen it again and again. We see how staying true to this central belief can take any challenge to the next level of creative solution. For Chevrolet, we decided to stop talking and start listening. In order to have a more intimate knowledge of military life, we used several listening platforms like Sysomos to dig into the social conversation on blog posts by military spouses. There was a common, powerful theme – the pride, patriotism and emotion of serving is balanced with the hardships spouses experience on a daily basis. They don’t want sympathy or empty gestures, they just want support. Our insight was just that: “My support system is my lifeblood.” So a discount can’t be just a discount; it’s a way to make a military family’s life a little easier. We turned their promotion for our military to receive a discount on a vehicle into a recognition, celebration and conversation among military families about what it means to serve. We gave them a platform to share, talk, compare stories; not dictating the conversation, just empowering it. We were able to authentically demonstrate the commitment Chevrolet has to making the lives of a military family a little easier. We even got them to come to a Twitter “party” to share their stories with each other and provide a way for them to expand their “family.” Insight. Magnetic idea. Simple, but powerful.

This simple formula is universal. Whether in the U.S. or Asia, starting with insights is step one in brands successfully unlocking their power. In Japan, Pampers introduced a new technology for diapers, but it wasn’t resonating with mothers because they didn’t see a benefit. Until an insight was uncovered.

We utilized existing syndicated data and then conducted primary research to learn about what moms are most concerned about for their babies. By directly talking with moms, we heard about how their babies slept through the night (with or without interruption) and learned whether they were aware of the connection between sleep and development. They weren’t.

We learned that, although babies seemed to be sleeping at night, they weren’t getting uninterrupted sleep, and that’s a problem. Not just because it can be an inconvenience for a parent but, and here’s the cultural insight we developed utilizing our research findings – mothers in Japan will do anything to ensure their children grow up as smart and successful as possible. It was much more important than just being “lovable.”

So what do we do with that insight? We continued with our research and did a deep dive into Google Analytics. We uncovered the fact that there is a lot of social conversation and search terms related to (a good night’s) sleep, as well as baby development. In fact, it was a growing social trend. Ah, now we know that the insight can be tied to a social and cultural trend.

So, what if a soundly sleeping baby made a smarter baby? It does. By using science to demonstrate this link (not just emotion), we were able to convince mothers that babies who sleep well, develop well. We even “invented” a new word: Nou-ikumin (a fusion of Japanese words for baby sleep and brain growth). Insight. Magnetic idea. Simple, but transformative.

Simple promotion? No. Instead, it’s a chance to show deep company commitment to the audience and their unique needs and challenges.

Product innovation that means less “hassle” for a parent? No. More of a science-based benefit that addresses a mother’s biggest concern for her baby.

These are just two examples, but they represent so many others. In each case, the program was driven by insight-based ideas where the insight was a bit threatening because it took us places we hadn’t been before. But they then inspired us to think differently about the problem and solution.

So, insights are not for the faint of heart. Insights are not for pretenders. Insights are for people who seek the truth, and find joy in creating a powerful, relevant and magnetic idea. But a deep dedication to digging for an insight will pay the digger back many times. Keep digging.

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About the author

Dave Senay

Dave Senay has held a variety of key roles during his nearly 30 years with FleishmanHillard. He is an avowed globalist, having spent much of his tenure on the road, collaborating with colleagues around the world. Senay joined the firm in 1984 as an account executive, rising to become FleishmanHillard’s third CEO since its founding in 1946, a position he held until 2015. Along the way, he served as general manager of the St. Louis headquarters office and as regional president for the U.S. Midwest, for Canada, and for EMEA. A former PR jury president at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity and chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, Senay is a relevant leader who continues to shape the industry in which he has spent his entire career. He currently serves as a special counsel to the firm.

A FleishmanHillard employee.