Why Staying Current Is Critical

Even given the importance of preserving brand integrity, it’s still critical to keep brands contemporary in order to keep consumers engaged — and to create new generations of brand aficionados.
You simply can’t take brand loyalty for granted, says Donatella Giacometti, chief brand officer of Ten Second World Inc., New York, N.Y., a company that specializes in brand marketing.
“Because the market is always moving … when you’re thinking about brand loyalty, you’re thinking about who is the competition at this time,” says Giacometti. “You always want to assess — where is the product and where is the marketplace,” she reiterates.
Branding expert Beth Barbee of Denver-based Darwin agrees. “A certain amount of tradition is important to hold on to,” she says, “but at the same time, the marketplace is always evolving, so it would be unwise for any brand to stay stagnant and fail to pay attention to not just what’s happening today, but also what’s happening down the road — to establish the qualities of that brand [and relate them] to the future direction of the market.”
Marketers can help keep brands relevant by tying marketing, advertising and promotional initiatives into popular culture. “I think it’s very important that the retailer, the manufacturer and the packager takes a look at what is going on culturally — everything from the space shuttle to myspace.com to NASCAR,” says Giacometti.
And perhaps above all, stay connected to your consumers. M&M’s brand marketers make that a point. “We rely a lot on consumer research in order to be able to stay up to date as to what’s important with our consumers,” says Anibal Martini, marketing director for the M&M Company (Masterfoods USA).
He cites the example of M&M’s tie-in with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Such initiatives, he says, “meet the needs consumers have to be entertained.”