Brand Mortality

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We live in an age where brand mortality is a very real prospect

3 minute read

In 2016, a record 80 new companies were born in the UK every hour [1]. So it might sound odd to state that we’re living in an age where brand mortality is a very real prospect. But it’s true.

In our digital age, there are virtually no barriers to entry for new brands; you can conceive, market and sell your brand online with relatively few hurdles. All these new brands are nipping at the heels of the big boys, their disruptive ideals displacing the established brands.

'we are playing a risky game with the brands that we are babysitting, leading to an increased risk of brand mortality.'

Add to this, the definition of brands is dramatically changing; Amazon ‘Our Brand’, Brandless and The Ordinary are all successful examples showing that the notion of modern consumption (and brands as we know them) is rapidly changing.

We are increasingly becoming familiar with the term ‘thrive or die’ and if you’ve viewed Innosight’s ‘Average Company Lifespan on the S&P 500’, you’ll see the average lifespan of a company dramatically reducing to just 12 years by 2027. The stark reality of brand mortality is up close and personal [2].

And we as marketers are also to blame, we are playing a risky game with the brands that we are babysitting, leading to an increased risk of brand mortality.

Why? We’re consistently falling foul of what we call the ‘Four ills of Modern Marketing’. You may recognize yourself in some of them.

Let’s introduce them…

FOMO – Like ‘The Magpie’, we marketers are often drawn to shiny new things for the sake of it. We see new ideas, new technologies and platforms appear and feel we must apply them to our brands.

Common examples include Mixed Reality, Wearables, Injectables, Alexa, Snapchat, Bots, the IOT.

These aren’t bad, on the contrary they are incredibly exciting – but only when used correctly to improve the health of your brand.

We are seeing more and more of ‘The Addict’. The ability to measure the short-term effects of digital marketing has led to us redirecting too much of our focus into digital and falling for the DOPE RUSH.

In this way, we are becoming addicted to the ‘highs’ of immediate returns but this is coming at the detriment of long term profitable brand growth.

It makes us feel great in the short term, but it doesn’t make for long term success [3].

FAKE NEWS, characterized by ‘The Believer’ is falling for the headlines that have created the marketing ‘news’.

Change has happened but it’s far less pronounced than we are led to believe.

The real news is that mass marketing is still highly effective, telly is far from dead, digital alone is not the future and yes we DO need to invest for brand growth! [4].

And lastly, BINGE which refers to us ‘stuffing our faces’ with content.

We’ve been overconsuming and overproducing content like crazy. We’re approaching 50bn devices and appliances churning out content.

Every marketer got the memo about content and we haven’t stopped since. But in 2015 content marketing output rose by 35% and yet engagement dropped by 17% [5]. The consequence has become quantity over quality, consumer apathy and quite simply we’ve had too much. But for brands this can be another nail in the coffin.

So, what’s the solution? Knowing that we live in an age where brand mortality is a very real prospect, what can we do about it? At Southpaw, we believe the only way brands can survive is through ‘Creativity That Moves People’ – or put another way, through the power of emotion.

95% of our purchase decisions, according to Harvard Business School, take place unconsciously. These ‘decisions’ are powered almost exclusively by our ‘System 1’ emotional brain. The way to ensure brand growth, is to speak to people’s emotions because the more people feel, the more people buy. Put simply, as marketers emotions are our superpowers

Put simply, as marketers emotions are our superpowers.

And it’s not just us that believes this. According to Binet & Field’s work, emotional campaigns are twice as likely to be profitable as rational campaigns, more than twice as efficient at driving market share and work especially well over the long-term [6]. System 1 Research have built their proposition around being able to guarantee profitable growth by using emotion to power communications, be it a piece of film, radio, even a social post [7].

‘Creativity That Moves People’ is Southpaw’s product. This cannot happen without our experienced team of brand and content strategists who ensure that our clients are engaging in a healthy dose of FOMO; new tech is great as long as it’s relevant and helps to move people emotionally or physically towards a purchase.

We have a balanced view on the right amount of long term brand building vs short term activation that’s right for your brief and your brand, so you don’t fall into the trap of THE DOPE RUSH. We have our own methodology that ensures that we use the latest neuro science and effectiveness research to deliver growth for brands that supersedes the FAKE NEWS.

And when it comes to BINGE CONTENT, we don’t believe in ‘always-on’, churning out ‘filler’ content or ‘stuff’. Our Content Strategists and Content Publishers develop careful, crafted, considered content that above all cuts through.

We do this for some of the most admired companies out there, including Diageo, Molsen Coors, Honda and PZ Cussons. For these clients, we deliver high value strategy, creative platforms and content publishing across many sectors and tribes, both locally and globally.

We’re an independent business that is part of a top ten global network, and as our name suggests, we do things a bit differently.

We’d love to tell you more.

Niki Macartney - Director of Strategy



[1] “Record 80 new companies being born an hour in 2016” Telegraph data from StartUp Britain"

[2] Innosight ‘Creative Destruction is Accelerating’

[3] Media in Focus. Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, Binet & Field, Chapter 2.0

[4] Media in Focus. Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, Binet & Field, Chapter 3.0 & 4.0

[5] The Content Marketing Paradox, TrackMaven

[6] Binet & Field, The IPA, The Long and the Short of It

[7] System 1 Agency

Southpaw Communications Ltd


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