The Evolution of Marketing and Your Brand

Marketing has changed drastically over the past century—and no, that’s not an intro to a standard “digital is everything and everything is digital” lesson. In today’s world, the most powerful marketing engine is actually somewhat of an abstraction. It’s not SEO, analytics, content marketing, social media or any of the other buzz terms you hear. Those are mere tactics; they require a driving force behind them in order to work, and that driving force is your brand. It’s easy to glaze over when you explore the vast resources on what a brand is and should be, so we’d like to share two particularly useful concepts.


Here’s a slide we recently came across. It’s from the San Diego State HTM Masters Program, and it outlines the evolution of marketing from the 1930s to present. Take a look: Now, let’s dig a little deeper into this timeline. 1930s: Production Orientation During the Great Depression, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product shrunk by nearly half. From 1932 to 1933, the unemployment rate pushed 25 percent. To get an idea of how dramatic that figure is, consider that unemployment during the Great Recession peaked at 10 percent in 2009. In the early to mid-1930s, businesses were struggling to stay afloat. And even as the economy began to recover toward the latter end of the decade, it was still an uphill battle to sell products and services. Marketing at this time was rather simple (on paper, at least): “Tell them what we make and try your best to sell it.” The main objective was to make as many people as possible aware of what you were selling and hope that this volume yielded sales. 1960s: Consumer Orientation Businesses soon realized that marketing blindly to everyone everywhere was largely a waste of time and money. As radio, television and soon, the Internet became more established advertising outlets, marketers were better equipped to pare down their demographic. They now had the resources to target specific consumers with unique brand messages, and during the “Mad Men” era of advertising in the 1960s, those messages were pure gold. 2010s: Consumer as Driver Today’s marketing model revolves less around traditional “selling” and more around engagement. Consumers are actively searching for brands they can trust. The way brands create that trust is by creating content geared toward the purchaser. Instead of “Buy our product,” it’s, “Join our community.” Rather than, “This is what we make,” it’s, “This is what you can be a part of.” This shift is the exact premise behind social media, content marketing, email marketing and everything content-related that you are (or should be) investing in for your business.


Simon Sinek is an author, motivational speaker, and thought leader most known for developing “The Golden Circle.” The Golden Circle is the basis for his 2009 book, Start With Why, in which he outlines a blueprint for organizations, innovators, and consumers to thrive together. Here’s a look at The Golden Circle:   Sinek explains that flawed leadership peaks at the outer layers of the circle. Leadership translates to marketing in that brands are essentially communicators to a mass audience. Organizations have a tendency to explain what they do and how they do it, but by the time they get to why they do it, their messaging becomes fuzzy and frail. Instead, Sinek suggests that brand messaging should begin with “why” and move outward to “how,” and finally, “what.” He uses Apple as a prime example of this model. What differentiates Apple, he says, is that the brand represents a non-status quo lifestyle rather than a maker of computers. That’s why Apple—once a humble tech startup with a vision for how the modern personal computer should look and operate—has been able to not just penetrate, but pioneer every space it enters, from music to mobile phones to home entertainment. Sinek’s abbreviated discussion on The Golden Circle is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. Check it out here.


In a world where every market is saturated with competitors, the old fashioned, unique selling proposition is no longer enough to attract customers. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” Sinek reiterates numerous times, and he’s absolutely right. In order for a brand to have a true impact on the world, its messaging must be passionate and inspiring. People aren’t looking to buy products; they’re looking to be a part of something. Dove, for example, launched a campaign that involved interviewing 6,400 women from 20 countries around the world on their perception of beauty. That’s far more powerful than any toiletry tagline could ever be, isn’t it? Old Spice is perhaps one of the most exemplary modern brands. Between having the word “old” in their name and battling the emergence of Axe, they were ripe for failure. Yet a progressive, “swagger”-centric rebranding revitalized their image and doubled sales.


The best part of all of this is that it’s fun for a business to learn what they stand for. It’s an initiative that your staff will get onboard with knowing that they’ll be contributing to the greater goals of the company. Raindrop Marketing can help you with all things brand-related, from your website development and content to team building and culture shaping. Contact us, and we’ll discover your brand and “why” together