I have been counting the times clients have asked me to do something that will engage the customer with the brand. Lots. And by engagement they mean getting the customer to do something for or with the brand, to create something, send something, read something. I have this inkling that maybe consumers do not spend enough time or interest on brands to justify all of this interest in engagement. So, I did a little test on myself and a friend's 11 yo. I tried to calculate how much of what we do daily is driven or inspired by a brand.
In my case, a paltry 7% most of which revolves around my Apple gear which requires upgrades, beautification etc etc, or Internet brands (the latest being my quest to find a good way to donate because wikipedia had asked me).
My friend's 11 yo however spend even less time engaging with brands. Even if they are human brands like the pop singers she seems to love. Actually what she does it engage using brands rather than with brands. She does not do things with brands, but to brands meaning that brands become part of her daily cultural experiences. She uses brands visual ID to make her own decorations, she cuts down logos, pieces of ads and makes collages, etc etc. She takes part in contests when they give her something she needs. It's all about her being free and unconstrained in her creativity.
So, somehow I think that all this frenzy about engagement for a bunch of consumers who really spend minimal time caring may be just a waste of time. Because really, there is not enough time in the day to become involved in all the things brands expect us to do.
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.