The future of the brand.

Think Brand Experience!

The brand message belongs to yesterday, when processes were still linear and clearly structured. Today – and tomorrow – it’s all about the brand experience, because the “experience” component of a brand will be what determines its success in future. So how can a brand experience be crafted and implemented successfully? The most innovative answers to this question come from Thomas Volprecht, Head of Branding and Strategy, and Judith Gallus, Head of Communication, at standing ovation ag.

Business as usual?

It’s happening all around us: the digital revolution. It shapes what we do each day, what we talk about in our breaks, and our careers. But who really understands what’s going on? Countless congresses, digital days and white papers seek to provide guidance. One thing is clear: when it comes to brands, nothing is like what it was before. Which makes it all the more surprising that many act as if nothing has changed. Business structures, marketing models and working patterns often show signs of suffering from “digital jet lag”.

The new key discipline.

Brand management also finds itself in the midst of a digital whirlwind that has turned everything on its head. Günther Misof and Michael Schwarz, leading brand experts in Germany, sum it up in their latest publication ”Innovatives Brand Management” (Springer Gabler, 2017). They write that, for some time now, the key element has no longer been the originality of the advertising campaign, but the quality of the brand experience underpinned by a consistently digitalised, integral brand communication that is tangible at all possible touchpoints.

Branding is a cross-sectional discipline!

And to put the scope of this development in its proper context, they go on to say that the brand is a constitutive component of consumers’ perception and judgement in the 21st century. Which – although essentially good news for brand management – poses a significant challenge: in the future, brand management will be a key discipline in determining the success – or failure – of a company.

Brand management has to deliver.

Brand management as a key discipline? Yes – and one where the tasks involved are manifold. No easy undertaking, as digital transformation not only affects the external impact of a brand, but – in the words of Günther Misof and Michael Schwarz – has fundamentally changed the work involved with and for a brand.

The work with and for a brand has become a team undertaking, at least in an ideal setting. In reality, however, things are often far less clear: new media bump up against old organisational structures, integral concepts have to navigate segmented responsibility chains, and silo mentalities have to accommodate cross-channel brand experiences. In such scenarios, interfaces rapidly become laborious works-in-progress, and touchpoints become pain points.

Brands are shaped by the brand experience.

And yet, everything appears so simple: “Brand is experience. Experience is brand.” say the brand avant-garde, such as Method in London. According to the Ad Age Top Agency Report 2017, the need for brand experience expertise is outstripping the demand for PR, CRM and advertising skills.

User experience developed into a brand experience.

So how has it come about that – today – brands focus not on their “message”, but on the “experience”. A look back makes it clear: just over ten years ago, when Web 2.0 and social media were really starting to get off the ground, the user experience became a major feature. The more brands headed online, the more the user experience developed into a brand experience. Today, the ability to experience a brand is what makes it unique – both offline and online.

The new brand landscape needs new ways of working.

Yes, we hear you say: “Brand is experience.” might sound good in a PowerPoint presentation, but it’s extremely difficult to put into practice. No doubt. Because the situation becomes complex: Who gets to say what’s what? Who sets the agendas? Who controls content? A seamless brand experience from the outside needs a great deal of joined-up cooperation on the inside. Methods such as design thinking and co-creation help effectively redefine cooperation between and across all stakeholders.

The digital transformation makes old brand models obsolete.

This also means that the approach whereby briefings are regarded as non-negotiable lists of things to be delivered has served its time. As the digital transformation makes old brand models obsolete, it also sweeps away sector-bound working models. To craft a brand experience, you need specialists who have an integral understanding of what’s involved. Live communication can make a valuable contribution to this process: it’s used to thinking in terms of touchpoints and customer journeys. And it has always defined the brand experience as an emotional experience.

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