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Sir David Attenborough

The marketing lessons that we can learn from the treasured broadcaster and naturalist

As part of a new series, we look at inspiring, innovative and beloved icons from the world’s of music, art, film, popular culture and beyond, to see if we can learn anything to improve our branding and marketing, starting with the revered natural historian, broadcaster and climate change campaigner, Sir David Attenborough.

He has graced the television screens of the UK and further afield since the 1950s, with an unparalleled legacy of nature documentaries, which has led to him being the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in black and white, colour, HD, 3D and 4K. Not only that, he is considered by many to be a national treasure and was named as one of the 100 Greatest Britons in 2002.

But what can we learn from him about becoming so beloved, and how can we apply this to our marketing, PR and brand?

Becoming Memorable

When I think about Sir David, it’s hard not to instantly hear the soft cadence of his voice describing the unknown habits of some four-legged mammal going about its daily life in a distant location.

Famous image of Sir David Attenborough two young mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Famous image of Sir David Attenborough two young mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

One of the most enduring qualities of Attenborough is that he is memorable, whether to you its the aforementioned voice, the image of him gently interacting with wildlife, or his passionate sentiment about preserving and protecting nature, the thought of him instantly conjures something in our brains.

You should take this into account when you think about your brand and marketing. Is my branding and messaging memorable? Are my marketing campaigns going to lodge themselves into the minds of my ideal customers?

It’s no coincidence that certain songs or phrases become synonymous with brands or adverts in our minds, just take Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ and the infamous Cadbury’s advert which uses it so powerfully, or slogans such as ‘I’m lovin’ it’ and ‘Just do it’.

If you can build your marketing, PR and branding to be even half as memorable as Mr Attenborough, then you are in good stead.

Stand For Something

This year’s Davos conference was dominated by Attenborough’s rousing warning about climate change. This wasn’t a one-off though, as long as I can remember the respected British broadcaster has highlighted the negative human impact on the natural world in his documentaries.

The fact that his passion for the natural world is so digest-ably conveyed to whomever he communicates, has made him not only trusted by generations, but even beloved by them. It has also inspired many; some to follow him into the world of working with nature and some to do simple things, such as recycle and consciously think about the impact they have on the world.

Relating this back to your business and its marketing, illustrating that your company has core beliefs and values that resonate with your customers will help them to identify with you over competitors. Whether that means that you have an unwavering commitment to top-class customers service, provide great value for money, or taking a leaf out of Attenborough’s book, commit to being an environmentally-friendly enterprise, standing for something as a business gives you a chance to stand out in your marketing and interactions with customers.

Clear & Engaging Communication

For over 60 years, Sir David has been breaking down brand-new and sometimes confounding behaviours and processes from the natural world, which he makes both easy to understand and compelling, for children and adults alike. His clear and simple messages on climate change, have filtered in the actions of generations and has made him a darling of social media today.

In an effort to bring the sounds of ‘sacred Indonesian gamelan music’ to new generations, Attenborough recently launched a competition to find a “UK music creator” to turn a three-minute field recording of the Balinese music from 1956 into a dance floor hit. It is clear, that understands how to communicate in the most engaging way to an audience.

Sir David Attenborough describes the dramatic commute lightfoot crabs have to make to feed, as octopuses and moray eels crawl across dry rock to set their ambush. Credit: BBC.

One of the most important things to focus on when creating a marketing campaign is to make sure that your message can be clearly understood by your customer and is relevant to them. It’s key that your messaging speaks to the needs of your customer, instead of spending time telling customers about yourself, think about communicating how you can be the solutions to your customers wants and desires.

Attenborough is very good at drawing us in to engage with his documentaries by narrating the often dramatic natural world events by giving you an animal to identify with and often root for (as shown in the video to the right). This means that you connect with the wildlife story he is presenting to you, and thus become further engrossed in the new world Attenborough is showing us. It is important to apply the principles when communicating with a potential customer, as if someone can identify with your message, product or brand they are much more likely to become a valued customer.

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