The digitalization trend in marketing has made brand management more complex: it is faster, more transparent and less predictable and controllable due to the momentum of social networks. Digital transformation is lived reality by now, making agility and adaptability generally the top criteria for brand success.
Clearly, brand management means much more today than the one-sided sender-receiver relationship between brand and customer that has been practiced over the past few decades: in addition to the right positioning to meet a relevant need, customers want to be involved today in a real dialogue at eye level and be convinced that a brand plays a valuable role for them. Compared to the past, when brands were solely determined by the company, customers nowadays become active protagonists who have a decisive influence on brand development.
The customer experience clearly needs to get a lot of attention, moving more and more into the spotlight thanks to digital media. Never was the ability to connect with (potential) customers as diverse and powerful, as effective and efficient, as fast and interactive, as in the digital environment. And never before has it been so easy to collect valuable data and insights on customers and users, that can benefit business development, increasing the chances to turn people into fans and prospects into loyal customers enormously.
It’s time to seize these opportunities instead of seeing change as a threat: we can learn more about our customer and communicate better with them: packed in stories, we can convey the peculiarities, the uniqueness and the performance proofs, more individually and conveniently than just in the analogue world. In fact, done right, digitization provides the opportunity to solve the core content and functionality problems of many brands.
But to make it clear: it's not about digital marketing but driving the brand in the digital age.
When thinking of digitization, too many companies only have marketing measures and channels in mind, often neglecting brand-typical digital offerings and services. To stand out from the crowd, real brand experiences must be created. That has always been the case, only the requirements and possibilities have changed massively. Companies that do not meet the expectations of their customers efficiently will find it difficult to survive in the future. Existing applications and infrastructures must be modernized in such a way that specifically business logic, data and processes can be improved.
The steadily growing number of differentiating tools and approaches often lead to excessive demands on the acting teams. In addition, the digital transformation rarely works in a 360° slap-bang approach, rather in individualistic but holistically well thought out steps. The following key cornerstones should be considered to make your brand digitally fit:
- Formulate the digital strategy that must be integrated into a holistic marketing strategy: no fragmented, isolated solution, but as part of a consistenbrand management. How and through which channels should we communicate and interact with the customer, and what is the interaction between the different disciplines? It's about an intelligent use of digital possibilities and translation of brand values into the digital world.
- Changes in the competitive environment and customer needs require a review of brand DNA: where appropriate, adjustment of positioning and service offerings to identify interesting niches and clear USPs have to be made. This includes thinking about brand-specific digital offers and products with real added value.
- Examine experiences from the customer's point of view and identify the relevant value drivers for the experience across all communication, sales and service channels. In doing so, it is important to understand the customer journey and consistently gear it across all points of contact in the sense of a closed chain of experience. In the digital age, the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ is particularly important here.
- The combination of brand-strong content and data-based customer approach becomes the supreme discipline! Relevance, from the point of view of the target group, is crucial. For the customer, the added value is always in the foreground: in the relevant environment for the target group, with valuable content and a storytelling concept, which clearly focuses on the customer and his/her emotional state.
- Ensuring that the consistency of the brand isn’t eroded and recognizable at all time is challenging. The more channels and employees are involved in touch-point responsibility, the more compelling are brand identity and language guidelines.
- Don’t ignore the use of future-oriented technologies, if you want to lead your brand into the future: from marketing information management systems (MIM), marketing automation and analytics tools, to integrating holistic data management platforms (DMPs) and AI for targeted and customized customer engagement, tomorrow's marketing is highly dynamic and learning.
- Empowering employees to handle digital channels and applications safely and informedly is a core requirement, too. This needs the right tools, a broad media literacy and a willingness to accept new technologies and changes - not just by individuals or just in marketing, but across the enterprise – as well as the openness to break old thinking patterns and silos.
By Daniela La Marca