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The Power of Meaning

How do you resonate with your customers and increase engagement? 

Turning the mundane into meaningful might sound far-fetched, it might even sound like smoke and mirrors, and to be honest few companies do a brilliant job at it. But when they do flip the switch on their customer experiences and they live up to the promises they make to the world, they can become the house names of the future. They become the brands we tell our friends about, the brands we are proud to be seen using, and the brands that say as much about how we want the world to see us as they do about the products they sell. 

The idea that a brand should play a meaningful role in someone’s life might seem presumptuous to some, but if you listen to how they talk passionately about how certain things are more meaningful to them, isn’t it natural that they demand a more meaningful experience from the companies they buy products from? 

A great example of how a new generation of consumers is looking for more meaning is this 2018 McKinsey study around Gen Z attitude to the world and their search for the truth. 

“Our study based on the survey reveals four core Gen Z behaviors, all anchored in one element: this generation’s search for truth. Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes. They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way. That is why, for us, Gen Z is “True Gen.” In contrast, the previous generation—the millennials, sometimes called the “me generation”—got its start in an era of economic prosperity and focuses on the self. Its members are more idealistic, more confrontational, and less willing to accept diverse points of view.” 

With this insight in mind, we see that today, traditional sources of meaning have lost their authority and are no longer resonant in people’s lives. The effect of COVID-19 and the isolation it created has only put an even greater focus on people’s search for meaning. With a growing disillusionment in how the pandemic has been managed.  

With the whole situation being politicized rather than cohesively dealt with has only added to this search for meaning in more diverse and interesting places. Even brand leaders like Jeff Bezos have potentially taken a sidestep by focusing on space travel rather than listening to and acting upon the needs of his staff and his customers. Has Amazon lost the opportunity to be meaningful to those it serves? 

Finding meaning is a desire that is as old as humanity itself, a defining characteristic of what makes humans, human. 100 years from now will people look at this time as a pivotal time in our search for meaning, will new sources of meaning and trust emerge? 

By concentrating on people’s experience, companies can go beyond just selling products and start making meaning. They can provide sensations of freedom, control, wonder and belonging, helping brands become the trusted authority figures in people’s lives as they look for meaning? 

In ‘The Experience Economy’, by Joseph Pine and James H, Gilmore, they bring to life the idea that when a person buys a service, they buy a set of intangible activities carried out on their behalf but when they buy an experience, they pay to spend time enjoying a series of memorable events that a company stages – in a theatrical play – to encourage them in a personal and meaningful way. 

So, what kind of meaningful experience are people looking for? If we start to think of the outcomes we want for people, we can shape brand experiences in a whole new and refreshing way. 

If someone wants a sense of ‘Achievement’, the notion of reaching a goal or bettering oneself, the experience we create for them becomes all about satisfaction. If satisfaction became the creative brief, how might that help build a different customer experience? 

Or, if ‘Beauty’ was desired, creating or even owning beauty. If ‘Beauty’ became the galvanizing thought how the process of creation and the way could you judge the work change. 

The list of meanings is rich and liberating when you start to think about how to market your company or product. From Wonder, Redemption, Security and Truth, the possibilities for companies to occupy a more interesting and permanent place in peoples’ lives is powerful indeed.  

By looking for meaning and using it as a guide by which we choose to create advertising, what we advertise becomes far more than a product someone mindlessly buys, it starts to appeal to something far deeper and resonant in all of us. 

To talk more about creating advertising that resonates visit

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