Chest Beating – It Can Really Hurt!

  • Categories:

    Community, Creative, Recent Work

  • Date:

    March 27, 2014

Chest Beating – It Can Really Hurt!



Community, Creative, Recent Work

Long gone are the days of bragging on a brand – an approach that can put off the very audiences we target. Instead, our job as marketers is to engage consumers with brands as actively as possible in order to drive results. Social media enables that engagement now more than ever. But mediums aside, engagement comes down to messaging. And the tone of a brand’s messages is everything.

We think we’ve struck the right note in our recent work for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and for the Arts and Science Council (ASC.) Instead of addressing audiences from an institutional perspective, we’ve focused on empowering the targets. “They”–those we seek to engage–are now “I” or “me.”

For the library, the message “I can” dominates communications and is followed by all sorts of things a visitor can do at any branch, for example search for a job, pursue passions, learn new technologies, use the Internet to do homework, etc. The message is visually reinforced by multicolored blocks that not only give the library a contemporary look when incorporated throughout the environment, but also suggest the multifaceted resources visitors can tap into.

The library is no longer a place where I go, but a way that I can, and that message is especially important to those with no other means of accessing information or modern electronics. In contrast to older perceptions, the new message creates a very different relationship between patron and library–“I’ll be empowered and successful at the library”–thus promoting engagement for a host of purposes.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library entrance

Audience engagement is equally embedded in our work for the ASC. Many in the region remember an older tagline, “ASC is good for me,” that sought support for the organization in difficult times. Capitalizing on the familiar rhyme and rhythm, we updated the tag to “ASC is you and me,” appropriately sharing ownership of all things cultural with local citizens.

ASC is You & Me Campaign logo

Photos show people from different backgrounds and at different stages of life engaged in their cultural pursuits (with support from ASC.) Now, instead of helping to fund an institution, people are funding their own passions, whether as active participants or audience members.

ASC is you and me

From “I can” to “you and me,” the attitude is one of equality and solidarity, not one of an institution or a brand talking to (or at) a consumer. Today, we’re building brands by engaging customers who become brand ambassadors. Which means we have to rethink the adage that the product is hero, because the audience is the real hero now.