Long, long ago, like in 1996, I had the distinction of writing Coca-Cola’s first ever website. The site is long gone, but the relationships with my Martin Interactive-turned-FATFREE teammates continues today.
Optimized for 14.4 kbps dial-up modems, the site was big on content and voice, and light on anything that might slow down the load time. Because of that, I believe that with some easy fixes, it might still fly today. Why? Because while a lot has changed in 25+ years, the way people connect with brands isn’t all that different.
Over time, it became all about “authenticity,” and more recently, “storytelling.” But while the descriptors may have changed, the core of the idea—meeting people on their terms, with their language, in a one-to-one conversation—has not.
- Mobile. When we were launching coca-cola.com, the Palm Pilot was just coming on the scene and iPhones were still a decade away. Attention spans have shortened, too. We didn’t need to be as concise as we do today.
- Google. Before search engines drove how people find content, there was Yahoo! It felt more like a digital card catalog.
- Expectations. Naturally, they started low. We couldn’t imagine the brand experiences that consumers have come to expect today.
Sure, there’s lots more. Resolution and load times have made video and higher-quality graphics possible. Data has grown up. Social wasn’t a thing. But let’s talk about what remains constant.
So what hasn’t changed in all this time?
I know I’m dating myself here, but people are people, and while the things we wear and buy and the way we connect may change, our deepest needs are pretty consistent.
As a junior writer, I knew the objective was to be attention-grabbing and compelling. That meant using a relatable voice and weaving an emotionally engaging story that a person could see themselves in. Over time, it became all about “authenticity,” and more recently, “storytelling.” But while the descriptors may have changed, the core of the idea—meeting people on their terms, with their language, in a one-to-one conversation—has not.
What people consider funny undergoes shifts, especially from one generation to the next, but people’s desire to be surprised and entertained never falls out of style. And even as the world has become more visual, a great idea that grows out of the product or brand will still perform better than cleverness for cleverness’ sake.
Data maturity has given us new opportunities to personalize experiences—getting closer to audiences than ever before—but good marketing on any platform should be less about name-dropping and more like a one-to-one conversation between people who share a goal. You have a challenge and we both want to solve it.
Last but not least, clearly inviting people to take the next step, whether it be to “Drink Coca-Cola” or to click here, remains key to closing the deal. And on that note, for fresh ideas that can help you better connect with your audiences, reach out to FATFREE.