The time of the connected brand...
By Mike Danher, Creative Director
Today’s consumer demands more than ever. They don’t want brands - they want experiences. They expect to be able to have a conversation with their brands and they expect to be listened to. They don’t want just a beautiful logo, a hollow brand promise or a call centre being ‘on message', they want a full, authentic experience.
So in a world where consumers can connect with a brand from virtually anywhere, at any time they like – brands must take time to reflect on their strategic narrative and carefully embrace it through their entire business operation. This takes the concept of a brand far beyond what can be seen. It is about focusing on every interaction that a consumer has with a brand and connecting them to provide a seamless experience – whether this is how individuals talk to customers, the sharing of customer information between departments or how different customer service systems are integrated.
This represents an elevation of brand to a new strategic role within a business and one that has a more significant impact on operating models. So given this shift, what role is there for creative thinking in this new world of brands? In my view, creative thinking is now more important than it ever has been. It is crucial that businesses have clarity on who they are they, what they do and most importantly, why they do it. This must be articulated in emotionally engaging and powerful ways that work flexibly across a whole business and every marketing channel.
A great example of how to deliver this brilliantly is John Lewis. In recent years, it has become a brand even closer to the nation’s hearts and this is in no uncertain terms due to a a clear and deliberate move to strengthen its commitment to be ’never knowingly undersold’. As a brand it has been recognised over the last twelve months as a leader in customer experience, and this comes from the true and very authentic way it engages its consumers. It is very clear about who it is and what difference it makes, while crucially adding value to every interaction. When I make a purchase at John Lewis, I trust in their service and their products - this runs deep through every connection point of their brand - from their big budget Christmas TV ads to the store assistant advising me on a new vacuum. The essence of their strategic philosophy has been put firmly back into their brand over recent years.
Looking ahead, I believe that successful companies will wear their brand firmly on their sleeve and deliver a connected experience throughout everything they do, with a focus on making every interaction personal and tailored to individuals. The best brands will be like best friends – they'll have a personal relationship with us.