How to stand out in the era of distraction

  • News
  • April 11, 2019
  • Darren Kirkland
How to stand out in the era of distraction

What does brand look like in the fourth industrial revolution? It’s a question New Zealand businesses need to answer for themselves, says managing director Darren Kirkland.

What does world-class customer experience look like when brands are armed with more data than they know what to do with, and when they have less of their audience’s attention than ever?

What role does visual design play today, when attention is at a super-premium?

What’s the point of your website, when consumers increasingly turn to apps, online marketplaces or smart speakers for products and answers?

How are the lines between physical and digital blurring? With technology at exponential growth, how do we stay human?

These are some of the questions I’ve been mulling over since coming back from SXSW in Austin, Texas, last month. Seeing a handful of presenters touching on the risks and rewards of this increasingly connected world, I thought of New Zealand businesses and felt quite hopeful.

Here in New Zealand, we have the opportunity to stay ahead. We can start adapting our brand strategies now to make the most of up-and-coming technologies and consumer trends, rather than waiting and having to play catch up.

How? Taking a page out of these pros’ books would be a start:

A distracted digital age

Kai Wright, a lecturer at Columbia University with an impressive CV of accomplishments in the marketing and entrepreneurial world, reckons brands are evolving – and need to keep doing so.

In his session, “Creating Memorable Brand Value in a Consumer Distracted, Data Dominated Age,” he pointed out that where 50 years ago marketers could rely on a solid static logo, some TV, door-to-door and print advertising, 10 years ago it had changed to include an interactive logo, rich media and direct mail-driven guerilla marketing.

Today, it’s all about user-generated content, creating and nurturing a digital ecosystem, and driving marketing around consumers’ lifestyle factors. So what will it be 5 years from now?

We need only to look at our digital habits to find out. What digital habits? The fact that we scroll through 300 feet of mobile experiences every day. Or that 76 percent of us watch TV with our smartphones in our hands, splitting our attention to give neither full focus.

We’re distracted. But that doesn’t mean marketing is going to stop working. Wright argued that we’ll just need to keep adapting to prepare for the marketing environment that we’ll have 5 years from now - an audio-led, video-centric world where consumers expect sensorial and immersive brand experiences and interactions across their devices, platforms and real-world experiences.

It’s going to be more important than ever for brands to stand out...and stand for something.

How to stand out – and stand for something

Wright believes brands need to consider their verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as the paralinguistics – how their message is actually delivered (ie tone, pauses). Standing out in the age of distraction will mean developing unique, branded vocabulary, and symbols, shapes and other visual stimuli. It will mean developing audio cues so your brand is instantly recognisable. It will also mean developing unique, memorable experiences for consumers, and portraying a united, motivated internal team with a sense of purpose.

How Mastercard is building a brand for the digitally distracted

Some brands are already doing this. In another session, Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar explained how his brand is keeping up with the unprecedented change in the market - change fueled, he believes, by an increasingly connected Internet of Things, more devices, more channels and, frankly, more attention deficiency among consumers.

Mastercard’s tactic is to shift traditional advertising dollars out of channels that can’t be measured, and instead use that funding to provide experiences at scale, and then enabling customers to amplify them easily themselves.

They’ve identified nine passion categories of customers, and developed “priceless moments” for each. They then turned these into money-can’t-buy, exclusive experiences that would generate surprise and delight, and in turn encourage sharing among family and friends in increasingly closed platforms, like Whatsapp.

Music to our ears

Mastercard has also developed a "sonic brand" and identity. During their recent rebrand, Mastercard invested deeply into developing what their brand “sounded like” on top of what it looked like - not a small sound bite at the end of a TVC, but a real identity, a musical logo that users would start to associate with the brand.

Mastercard is among the first major brands to realise that a melody works across media, genre, continents, gender and race. It can be simplified into a single 1.3-second ’transaction accepted’ sound, or play as the sound track on a 1-minute video.

This wasn’t a decision made on a whim – it was deeply researched (in fact, it was reportedly developed with artists, musicologists and marketers over the course of two years!) and rooted in data.

I left SXSW inspired by brands like Mastercard – they’re coming up with new strategies that are personalised on data to fit and connect with their audience. They’re keeping it simple, but also keeping ahead of the curve. As a result, they’re finding new levels of growth and climbing the ranks of global market share.

Darren Kirkland is the managing director at, a digital marketing consultancy that takes a multidisciplinary approach to digital transformation, helping brands blend data, tech and content to change the way they engage with their audiences.

This story originally appeared on Idealog.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


How do Kiwis do their Christmas shopping at Mighty Ape?

  • News
  • November 20, 2019
How do Kiwis do their Christmas shopping at Mighty Ape?

New Zealand e-tailer Mighty Ape surveyed 2,962 Kiwi shoppers post-Christmas last year. Among its findings are that Black Friday is officially bigger than Boxing Day among its audience, with almost four times as many products were sold on Black Friday compared to Boxing Day 2018. Cyber Monday, the online-only sale that falls on the Monday following Black Friday, has also proven to be popular with Kiwis. It now also outsells Boxing Day at Mighty Ape.​ ​It's presented further findings in a clever infographic.

Read more

Introducing New World's 2019 Christmas ad

  • News
  • November 19, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Introducing New World's 2019 Christmas ad

New World and Colenso BBDO have unveiled this year’s Christmas ad, showing the generous Kiwi tradition of inviting every available Tom, Dick and Harry to Christmas lunch, resulting in many mouths to feed.

Read more

Raglan Coconut Yoghurt's Latesha Randall reports back from the US on what's hip and happening

  • News
  • November 19, 2019
  • Latesha Randall
Raglan Coconut Yoghurt's Latesha Randall reports back from the US on what's hip and happening

Latesha Randall is ​the co-founder of Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, a delicious dairy-free yoghurt born out of a beautiful town two hours south of Auckland. She previously documented the adventures of her company when it was a start-up in a column in Idealog – you can read it here. Recently, Randall traveled to the 2019 Natural Products Expo in Baltimore, USA and observed the food trends that were happening abroad. New Zealand foodies, take note: here, she reports back on what she thinks will be big contenders in the future food space.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Outdoor goods retailers Cactus Outdoor and Kathmandu collaborate

  • News
  • November 19, 2019
  • The Register team
Outdoor goods retailers Cactus Outdoor and Kathmandu collaborate

Two prominent Kiwi outdoor goods retailers, Kathmandu and Cactus Outdoor, have collaborated to produce a line of certified ‘Buy NZ Made’ products which will be launched in Kathmandu stores around New Zealand on Buy NZ Made Day this week.

Read more

Casual brows

  • Opinion
  • November 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Casual brows

As competition hots up between internationals and local brands in the beauty category, NZ Retail and The Register editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn considers what comes next.

Read more

How New Zealand businesses performed in China’s 11.11 shopping festival

  • News
  • November 15, 2019
  • The Register team
How New Zealand businesses performed in China’s 11.11 shopping festival

This week marked Singles’ Day - a Chinese holiday run by mega-retailer Alibaba that, while still relatively unknown in the western world, is surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday in scale and sales. Alibaba reports it generated US$38.4 billion of gross merchandise volume this year.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit