On a recent trip to London, one of many tourist stops was the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, in Notting Hill. As soon as I walked in, I immediately noticed shelves and shelves of products, posters, ads and videos, all shouting out the various brand names that have been developed over the years. It is an amazing assortment of stuff at first glance, and it became even more impressive upon further inspection.
The wealth of product containers, signs and products that museum owner Robert Opie had the foresight to save (and preserve in mint condition) for this museum is truly remarkable. If you’ve clicked around our B2B agency’s website, or visited our creative campus, you are well aware that Opie and MLT Creative may be kindred spirits.
We began our tour by traveling through a “time tunnel” of vintage advertising, beginning with products from the Victorian times, and ending with brands that are still around today. Sprinkled in with the product displays were facts about advertising and merchandising over the years, many of which spoke to the importance of trademarking and the prevalence of imitators. At one point there were boxes of dry mustard from various companies that had all been made an identical shade of yellow to mimic the packaging of then-market leader Coleman’s.
Seeing these displays reminded me of how far we’ve come as marketers, and how far we’ll need to go to truly differentiate our brands. In the past, building your brand was as simple as creating a logo or a tagline and placing a few display ads. Today, there are so many ways to market your brand – from SEO to social media participation, to advertising, to customer service, to service after the sale.
In the B2B marketing world of today, we’re seeing that it’s less about the official corporate messaging and more about relaying the honesty and humanity of our companies, as well as listening, engaging, sharing and connecting with customers. Less “push,” more “pull.”
Contemporary B2B marketers know that we need to have a b2b brand people can relate to. We have to let customers make their own decisions about our brands, knowing that we’ll have to accept whatever conclusions they make. This is a tough pill to swallow for those schooled in traditional marketing, and those who are accustomed to having supposed “control” over a brand message. Instead of controlling the message we project, savvy marketers now focus on controlling the official corporate response to their brand, whether the customer feedback is positive or negative. Besides, it’s always better to know than to not know.
And, if I can give a little shout-out to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising: I loved the tour, and you guys are doing a great job of mixing nostalgia with modernity on your Facebook page!