Two concepts should be at the heart of the brand acceleration discussion: Fit and Unexpectedness. The mixture between the two can mean the difference between a slow burn and explosive growth. Fit is when both our customer and our brand managers can agree “that makes sense." Unexpectedness is when customers are persuaded to engage, or re-engage a brand because of surprising and delightful experience (see Growth Opportunity Matrix).
Too often, brand accelerant measures such as sponsorships, co-branding, or experience marketing depend too heavily on only one of these two rockets of Fit or Unexpectedness. Not much different than a real rocket, this can have devastating results, resulting in a slow burn or, worse, a crash and burn shortly after launch. For instance, Brand managers can be obsessed with ensuring that the tactics “fit” in the brand, whereas advertisers tend to be overly excited about creating something "unexpected" that may not offer a meaningful fit to the brand. It should come as no surprise that if we have neither fit nor unexpectedness, accelerator tactics and campaigns offer little increase in attitude or action. It is both the management discipline of maintaining meaningful fit as well as the creativity of delivering the unexpected that drives the most acceleration to our customer’s mind.
Nothing is more expected than Red Bull sponsoring an F1 sports team. However, the Red Bull Stratos project a few years ago surprised customers around the world. Red Bull Stratos was a space diving expedition where Australian skydiver Felix Baumgartner flew 24 miles into the stratosphere before free falling and parachuting back to Earth. And, no sooner did Baumgartner break the sound barrier coming back to earth, Red Bull was breaking barriers of their own, entering new markets such as Brazil, Japan, India and South Korea and raising sales by 13% worldwide. In fact in the six months immediately following Stratos, sales rose 7% to $1.6 billion in the U.S. alone. Stratos has become an iconic moment for both consumers and consultants. Years later, its achievements in brand acceleration tactics continue to be held up as the paragon of collaboration between advertising and brand management, owing its success to two very powerful, and often overlooked, rockets: Unexpectedness and Fit.