Nearly a month ago, I found myself having coffee at a café with friends. We sat sipping our respective lattes and cortados making small talk. Mid-conversation, we were approached by what appeared to be a student carrying leaflets for a new juice bar.

The leaflets weren’t too enticing, but they did lead our conversation into the realm of advertising. We began asking ourselves a question: when it comes to ads and brands (especially newer ones), what are the key points that push us to embrace them? Not only embrace, but adopt brands as legacy?

Working in advertising and digital media for 4 years, it’s something that I personally and professionally mull over quite a bit. My friends and I began shooting out a plethora of ideas, but there were definitely a few that stood out more than others:

Embracing Mobile

As much as I hate to admit it (because it was quite the costly investment), desktops and laptop computers have become pretty archaic with regard to my daily life. I use them at work. If I’m writing an in-depth blog entry or streaming a movie, I’ll pick it up my laptop. Aside from that, I’ve migrated my life to mobile. Talking to friends, reading the news, discovering music, making travel plans…all things done simply from my smartphone.

If you’re looking to target me with advertisements your best bet is finding me through mobile because odds are, I’m not going to exert the necessary effort to turn on my laptop. It doesn’t stop there though. Throwing an advertisement at me while I’m scrolling a mobile site may not be enough to create a lasting impression. Quite frankly, creative and convenient mobile apps are where it’s at.

Take for instance, Absolut’s “Drinkspiration” mobile app. I discovered this gem on the Absolut page from a lifestyle site on my phone.

I often entertain friends at home and a big part of that is making cocktails. As much as I’d love to claim to be, I am not a fancy guy. I do not have a database of drink recipes rotating around in this head of mine. I’m much more of a happy hour beer bloke.

Thanks to Drinkspiration, I am able to hide behind the façade of a more cultured gentleman. This mobile app allows me to not only create drink recipes by inputting ingredients I already have at home, but I’m also able to craft quick shopping lists in the event that I need to plan for an impromptu party when I’m out and about.

This kind of investment in mobile tells me that not only is a brand highly adaptive and savvy, but more importantly, they’ve taken the time to find me where it matters most – on the most convenient and important device I own. It’s this kind of dedication from a brand that makes it easy for me to flag them as a regular in my life.

Incorporating My Lifestyle

Recently, I was in the market for some winter boots. It came down to two pairs. One was an actual winter boot with great traction, water-repellant material, and perfect support. Not the best looking boot, but definitely the one to get the job done. The other was a more fashionable boot with decent traction, okay support, but lacked any ability to repel water.

Which boot did I choose? The second, of course. Above the shelf of the second boot was a poster of a man wearing a rather long taupe trench coat blowing ever so slightly in the wind. He was walking through the city, carrying a cup of coffee in sleek brown leather gloves, a circle scarf, all while wearing my boots. It screamed, “I am a man of the city, sophisticated and driven by nature.” I wanted an air of sophistication. I wanted to be a man on a mission…driven by nature. I wasn’t sure where I’d be going, but it didn’t matter because, by God, those boots would take me there!

I can’t speak for all consumers, but when it comes to making purchases and signing onto a brand, practicality isn’t always what I’m looking for. Sometimes the most practical solution isn’t the best suited.

Most of my purchases are lifestyle-driven. I’m buying into something for reasons that are less purpose and more look and feel. Although the purpose of the product is what brings me in front of it and its competition, ultimately, what I walk out with is based on which product does a better job of conveying what I want to imply about myself.

Utilizing Social Media

I spend an absurd amount of time on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram among several others act as a major source of information for me.

No, I’m not spending the bulk of my time signed in stalking or following friends. My social networks act as quick headlines to my immediate interests. If I want the scoop on local and international news, I head over to Twitter and glance at the accounts of my favorite newspapers, reporters, and magazines.  If I want to know of events happening around me, I head to the Facebook pages of tastemakers and event spaces in my neighborhood. All around, it’s just an easy and convenient way to stay in touch and several brands are beginning to recognize this in a big way.
Social media helps to add a third dimension to a brand. Advertisements are no longer two-dimensional photos sitting below texts. A brand is now a living and breathing entity that can quickly adapt to the lifestyle of the consumer and reassert its messaging in a plethora of ways.

An example of a brand embracing this is Levi’s. The company has a history of providing quality clothing that embraces American heritage and an “effortless cool.” In its current campaign, the company takes their brand one step further by telling consumers that “Today is the present” and “Go Forth.”

Their Facebook page frequently details the ways the brand is helping inspire creativity and pushing people to go forth and pioneer thought. Facebook users are invited to share examples in their lives in which they are embracing the moment, paying gratitude and pushing for change. All of this helps to create a strong community on the page that frequently engages the user on causes that have significance in their lives.

By implementing this approach with the consumer, the brand has the opportunity to break away from just being a product. It now has the ability to become a channel for people to share their voice among others who think and feel the same way.

My friends and I having coffee that afternoon may have had different ideas on how to best engage consumers, but there was one underlying point we could all agree on: If a brand has hopes of adopting long-term consumers, there has to be an effort to target the people in areas they are more likely to be engaged. It could mean relating to consumers on issues they place much value in, or engaging them through media they are often found voicing their opinion.

Ultimately, embracing a brand should boil down to the consumer feeling like they are adopting an extension of their own lives.