Rules, order and perfection. Aren't these thought of as typically German attributes? In Germany, entrepreneurs and marketing managers all plan meticulously to guarantee success. No surprises, please - breaking the rules is taboo.
But change is afoot for a lot of reasons. Weak consumption, global competition and consumers with complete freedom of choice mean the end of brand management as we knew it. The rules are beginning to be broken.
Here are just a few instances. Meister Proper, sold as a household cleaner in Germany for decades, has now successfully extended into heavy-duty detergents. The flat dairy market has been revitalised with the introduction of products such as the functional probiotic drink Actimel. Lenor has had significant business success by moving the brand from a traditional fabric softening approach to an emotional "feel-good" strategy.
More evidence comes from strong young brands, which play outside traditional boundaries. For example, the marketing of the Mini combines the image of a cult brand with a refreshing zeitgeist and trend-setting technology.
Ikea awakens fun for living. Dove breaks with traditional beauty standards to identify with its real target group.
In other words, there is no textbook approach to ground-breaking, buzz-generating marketing.
No wonder - the new rules are original, innovative and entrepreneurial. For their bravery, many are achieving double-digit growth. Their brands shine as beacons in an otherwise bland landscape.
"Breaking the rules" has become part of future-facing Germany. The chairman of Germany's leading department store group, Karstadt, Thomas Middelhoff, constantly makes the case for reinventing the department store business. And many more are equally vocal.
As a result, it's an exciting time for brand communication. We are breaking out of our chains. This impetus to build our clients' brand performance through smart strategies and fresh ideas is the engine driving German advertising. We approach brand management with in-depth, competitive insights that are fundamentally changing the relationship between the brand and the consumer.
Our "Under the Skin" communication model takes us on a journey inside consumers' minds. By combining understanding with shopping, media and multichannel intelligence, we uncover valuable knowledge for clients and brands.
Brand communications should not break the rules just for the sake of doing so, but if a new strategy can open up business opportunities, then we should break free to drive growth. It's a new world, and we can help our clients to thrive in it.
- Uli Veigel is the chief executive of Grey Global Group Germany.