Podcast: A new era of brand relevance with Emmanuel Probst

We spoke with Emmanuel Probst, the Global Lead, Brand Thought-Leadership at Ipsos, about the new era of brand relevance that we’re currently going through. In addition to his role with Ipsos, he is an adjunct professor at the University of California. Emmanuel has written two books, the latest of which we cover in this episode: Assemblage: The Art and Science of Brand Transformation.

We discussed the evolving nature of brand purpose, how marketing is changing, what assemblage means for market research, and what brands can do now to help consumers who have never felt more lonely.

Emmanuel began by stating that “brands can no longer force-feed us with products we don’t need. We have too many brands and too many products to choose from.” He continued by sharing, “beyond just selling products, brands must also transform us, as individuals, and the world we live in.” It is freshly important for brands to transform themselves in order to stay relevant and thrive.

“Brands can no longer just claim a purpose, they have to demonstrate this purpose,” shares Emmanuel. Brands must answer the question, “How are you able to impact the world?” He breaks this down into three parts: the first is to demonstrate purpose, the second is to be on-brand and relevant, and third is an ongoing interaction and co-creation process with the audience. The benefit of co-creating the brand with the audience, “is to create brands that feel more relevant, more personal, more engaging, more culturally relevant – and there is an opportunity to evolve the brand with the audience.”

“We have so many tools now to listen to what people are saying,” says Emmanuel. “The ‘holy grail’ is the ability to collect disparate types of data and combine those disparate sources of data into something that is coherent, and it is going to drive the decision.” He shares that historically, “marketers believed there was always a market for a new product, a new flavor, a new packaging - but really at the end of day, this becomes confusing and frankly, overwhelming for consumers. People keep returning to the exact same brands and products because we are creatures of habit.”

Emmanuel shared great insight into what assemblage is and why it’s so important for market research teams: “Assemblage is the art and science of transformation.” He explained that one should build a brand by considering all attributes, and by picking elements from culture and the world around you, so that the brand can evolve. A good brand must do three things (besides product): benefit personal identity, benefit friends and family, and they must make a positive impact on society and the economy. “There are so many opportunities for brands to contribute and do the right thing,” says Emmanuel. “We’re envisioning a personal, genuine, authentic connection with the brand. We’re no longer obsessed with perfection - the brand doesn’t have to be perfect, the brand has to be real and authentic.”

And what can brands do now to help consumers who have never felt more lonely? “The more connected we are, the lonelier we feel” was the message from Emmanuel’s first book. He shares that research shows that no matter how many devices, apps and social media platforms we use, the fact is that it is harder and harder to make friends. “The downside of social media and devices in general is, counterintuitively, people no longer know how to communicate with people.” He shares that it is very important for brands to consider empathy, the context in which people live, and also consider their expectations for the brand.

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