Brand mantras for winning big in 2023

The New Year is time for non-linear thinking – you need to zig when everyone else zags, says veteran adman Dr Sandeep Goyal, as he lists the action points for brand marketers in the year ahead

Dr. Sandeep GoyalUpdated: Monday, January 02, 2023, 11:45 AM IST
Dr Sandeep Goyal Managing Director, Rediffusion Author - Sellebrities |

As I look towards 2023, there are some very clear pointers that I can identify for brand marketers in the year ahead. Most of the action points are not new; but they are just becoming more and more potent in the brand-consumer interface. 

So what are these major catalysts for tomorrow?

Story-driven Content Visualization: We have always known that visuals are easier to remember than written content. Adding data visualizations, infographics, images, and videos to text not only makes it more interesting and attractive, but it helps makes the message more ‘absorbable’ and actionable. Research tells us that

65% of consumers are visual learners

Coloured visuals increase consumer desire to read by 80%

Consumers are 85% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it

93% of all communication is visual. That is why visuals attract our attention and affect our attitude

Posts with images produce 180% more engagement

Our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text

Ability to visually search a product by image has already become the biggest driver in e-commerce today. Click to purchase images and videos today are the hottest buttons for future consumers.

Seeking & Servicing an ‘Audience of One’: An ‘audience of one’ (Ao1) is going to be the holy grail of marketers in the year ahead. Why? It is an unalienable fact that people love to hear their names and see them in print. It gives them a feeling of being recognised, valued and made to feel important, in fact very special. Today’s technology allows digital marketing teams to dig deep into the data to identify the things that keep customers up at night – and identify what messages will solve those problems and give them a good night’s sleep. Personalised addressability today can be precise and accurate. And made delightful. And rewarding. 

Almost 80% of consumers say they’d be more likely to do business with a brand that provides a personalized experience, as per research by Epsilon. Improvements in technology, enhanced deployment of AI combined with increased data collection and insights from social media, and other sources, have made it possible and easy to hyper-personalize everything from content to design to product recommendations and everything in-between. In 2023, brands that will try to deliver a message to an Ao1 will do better than their competitors. 

Featured Snippets as ‘Position Zero’ on Google Search: With the growth of mobile and voice search, consumers are changing the way they use search engines like Google. Being number one in the Search engine result pages (SERPs) is no longer necessarily the primary goal for evolved brands, as consumers are invariably looking for the fastest information when on the move. Featured snippets and other “on SERP” information means that you don’t need to click through to a website to get the information you’re looking for anymore – it’s right there on the Google search results page. This on-SERP information may appear in various places, but the most sought-after position is right at the top of the page, before the organic listings. This position has been dubbed “position zero”. As it’s often the only information that a searcher will view, it’s highly coveted. Over 60% of search results returned by Google are now featured snippets.

Featured snippets aim at answering the user's question right away (hence their other well-known name, "answer boxes"). Recent studies reveal that featured snippets have an average 35% click-through rate. Being featured means being on top of everything (except for ads), in the most prominent spot on Google Search. For those still new to this game, there are three major types of featured snippets:

Paragraph (an answer is given in text)

List (an answer is given in a form of a list)

Table (an answer is given in a table)

Each type can also include an image, and that image may even come from a third-party page that is not featured. I won’t go into more details, but suffice it to say that in 2023, your SEO must deliver tops on featured snippets, or else your digital team needs serious pulling up. 

Emergence of Multisearch: Future-proofing a brand’s digital assets for discovery is the key to unlocking doors and winning in 2023. Consumers today typically spend more than 82% of their time on discovery. Google has in recent times launched Multisearch and released several supporting algorithms to change the way consumers do discovery and receive information. Google constantly tests different formats to display relevant search results coming from diverse sources, which reflect how people are exploring myriads of topics. We can, on Google, now search between various assets, including videos, images, PDFs, text, languages, etc. Multisearch has opened the biggest untapped opportunities for marketers and we can see the direct benefits already delivering quantifiable results. Consumers can today take any image and use Google Lens to explore everything about the image. By leveraging entity data along with high-quality, relevant and contextual images, Google can get to the most relevant search results faster and better. Hence, 2023 will see savvy search marketers leverage all types of assets, Google Vision API and entity data to provide the most relevant and qualitative assets. In 2023, brands will have to fine-hone Multisearch – it is an important pathway to the future. 

Time for Anticipation Marketing: Anticipation marketing isn’t anything new; but the way brands are experimenting with how they build anticipation creates powerful marketing moments that just can’t be ignored. I am reminded of a story here. In 2019, YouTube influencers Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson set out to launch a make-up collection whose ideation, development, and production would be captured in a 7-part documentary-style series. Jeffree Star, an already established influencer and successful make-up mogul, partnered with long-time YouTuber Shane Dawson in order to bring their audiences into the fold, and share how the end-product came to life. Each episode of the series was published to Shane’s channel, which quickly garnered tens of millions of views, and was over an hour long. A surprise, given that the YouTube algorithm rewards short-form video. Over the course of 7 months, “the Conspiracy Collection” came to fruition, and was set to launch in early November. Within a matter of minutes, the sheer volume of web traffic to Shopify caused the site to crash, as millions of visitors bought as much as they could. The results were astounding: 1 million palettes sold in 30 minutes. Even those palettes purchased through partnering make-up store Morphe saw a complete selling out of palettes – making it one of the most successful launches in the store’s history.

Anticipation is one of the more unusual emotions brand marketers can use to advantage. It plays delicately between the line that divides pleasure and pain. It can consume, and even overwhelm until one just can’t wait anymore. The time between then and now can feel excruciating and delicious. Anticipation is what consumer brains experience and gives them goosebumps. Well, for brands, that is the new challenge in 2023. 

The new year is time for non-linear thinking – you need to zig when everyone else zags. And do it faster than your competitors. This, more than anything else, needs faster thinking, faster adoption and understanding of technologies and faster application of available tools. Not all of it needs re-invention, but it does require re-learning a lot of the past. And that, my friends, is not easy. 

(Dr Sandeep Goyal is Managing Director of Rediffusion. His ninth book, Sellebrities, releases in the new year)

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