Marketing disrupts, and of late the market has seen unprecedented volatility.

At Made to Engage we're helping brands craft their strategy in this disruptive world. Stephen (our Head of Digital) gives us his perspective on why this is the only way to get past the noise.


I’m a marketer. I’ve spent my career developing brand messages, understanding and planning how they will be communicated and telling what are now called “brand stories”.  


‘Brand’ has been defined as “the thoughts and feelings about a business in the minds of customers and employees”. It’s not my definition, I have lifted it. Of course, everything else is branding. The branding is the piece that informs or reminds you which business to have the feelings about. 


As consumers these days we are highly developed. It starts early. My 3-year-old son could recognise brands that had resonance with him long before he understood what a logo was. Seeing a bus with a film poster stuck to the side he asked if we could get on the STAR WARS bus rather than the one we needed to take. He could tell a brand of Scandinavian bricks from the rattle of a box in much the same way that a house cat can smell when a pouch of cat food is being opened. The Scandinavian bricks created a whole host of emotions within him. 


As adults our engagement and understanding of brands is well documented. We have a trust for certain retailers or manufacturers, a willingness to spend far more on certain products than their competitors ask for a similar item. We will even head off and update to the latest release of mobile phone or car despite there being many, many years of life left in our existing and worn in model.


As marketers we spend our days generating brand feelings, crafting them through our communications and our messaging. It can sometimes be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to outstay a brands welcome in the mind of our consumer. When we choose to measure campaigns in terms of the time people spent engaging with them or measure the depth of engagement by the average number of pages consumed, we push ourselves to patterns of behaviour that are potentially unhelpful.



Smart brands have made their mark by minimising the amount of time you spend engaging with them before moving on to another purpose. Consider one of the strongest online brands there is - the eponymous search engine which has made it it’s mission to keep your exposure to their brand to an absolute minimum. Their brand promise is measured by giving you the results they believe you want, even when being on the list that they provide is a position traded to the highest bidder.


By focusing on creating feelings of efficiency and accuracy they have ensured we end up arguably feeling more strongly as consumers about their product, one we have never paid a penny of cash to consume, over an item we may have saved for months to acquire.


What is important is the nature of the engagement. The word ‘engage’ to a marketer all too often means to attract or to occupy somebody’s interest.


The dictionary offers us many more options. To engage is…


  • To participate or become involved in; as in to engage the local community.
  • To arrange to employ or involve someone.
  • To make an adjustment or change a setting so as to come into operation, as to engage the next gear.
  • To bring together forces to make contact.


The last definition employs a deeper and more fundamental involvement.



When creating commercial engagement, it is important to at first understand exactly the form and nature of the engagement required. Sometimes to attract attention is what is required. However, at Made to Engage we have also focused on delivering work for organisations like PSNI, where instead of attraction, it can often be necessity.


We all from time to time may unfortunately have had to consume or engage with the services of a police force, possibly to report that we are a victim of crime. In this situation, the positive feeling arises when we appreciate that the engagement we had with them was straightforward, unimposing and carried out with discretion.


In our time poor, post cool, world, what invariably matters are the moments of consumer and employee experience.  Whether we are looking to occupy or attract (someone's interest or attention), participate or become involved in a commercial transaction, or arrange to employ or hire, what we are looking to do is to ‘engage’. It is the nature and often intricate detail of the engagement that requires our focus.


As the market, and Toys ‘R’ Us are showing us, getting this wrong can be terminal. In contrast, for those that get it right, the rewards are undeniable. Just ask our client, Eason


Being engaged, in this way, is at the confluence of Digital Marketing, User experience, and Technology. It’s the deft application of each appropriately which creates the engagement in the digital world.


Consider the following each in isolation, the momentary engagement of purchasing a required text book from an online supplier like Eason, a relatively mechanical and unemotional activity, or the researching, shortlisting and ordering of a must-read title for the local community book club. Compare against acquiring the handful of paperbacks that will make their way to the sun lounger at your next summer break. Or maybe the finding of the perfect gift of a rare, hard to find title for a loved one. Each transaction requires research, certainty, comfort, timeliness and availability. Just in different quantities.


Find out more about our transformation journey with Eason. Continue the story here