Brand engagement: Sex up service brands

Rob Wilson

Functional, low-interest brands can be made more exciting if you follow five rules of engagement, explains Rob Wilson at RPM.

Too often when marketers are asked to describe successful brand experiences, they default to traditionally high-engagement brands from sectors such as fashion, sports and alcohol. We all get excited at live music experiences hosted by alcohol brands at festivals or events like Microsoft's Secret Cinema project in London. But engaging brand experiences can also play a role in low-engagement brands, such as energy, finance, telecoms and insurance.

Often not seen as the most appealing or interesting, these functional brands face a unique set of challenges. Most of the brands that are categorised as functional and low engagement have intangible products. This means that, while essential, they are naturally seen as dull and uninteresting to consumers. Furthermore, they tend to operate in highly commoditised markets, where people distinguish between brands solely on price and offers available and are increasingly promiscuous, tending to switch providers regularly for a better deal. There is little brand loyalty or affinity to say the least.