There’s a brand in my digital soup

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Jean-Luc Ambrosi is an award winning marketer and recognised expert in branding and customer relationship management. He is the author of the new book, Branding to Differ, a strategic and practical guide on how to build and manage a successful brand.

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Make no mistake, these discussions are valuable because they force us to think beyond our daily routines and revitalise our strategic thinking. In the best cases, these discussions can energise organisations to approach strategy with a new set of lenses and reassess their business models, their offerings, their unique differentiators and most critically, how these will affect the value proposition of their brands. 

The main issue that organisations face during this period of reassessment relates to the scope of the thinking. Too often, work is limited to technology and digital outcomes. The issue with this limitation is that in most cases technology is not the disruptor; it is the harnessing of this technology into a palpable and attractive value proposition to a defined target audience that is the disruptor.

In other words, it is the possibility offered by technology to steer, change, evolve or create new brands that needs to be addressed.

While it is obvious for most organisations that leveraging technology needs to be steered around the goal of improving the customer experience and driving operational efficiencies, they must also question what opportunities and threats this brings to their brand.

Kodak is a well-known example. It could have improved its customer experience and its operational efficiencies a thousand times, but this would have never been sufficient to counteract the tsunami that digital represented. It missed the opportunity to leverage the enormous brand reputation it had built with customers to expand to other areas.

The Kodak brand DNA was about innovation, it produced the first mass market camera in 1900 with the slogan ‘You push the button, we do the rest’. It is ironic to think this slogan could still be utilised today, especially when you also know that Kodak created the first digital camera in 1975. Not only was the company unable to foresee the value of its own innovation, it failed to do so because it got too attached to its chemical products and not enough to its brand DNA.

We must constantly assess this risk for our own organisations. Are technology and digital changes being driven in isolation to the brand evolution? Is the brand relegated to a small inconvenience, a ‘hair in the soup’?

Forgetting that brands are about driving emotions and that emotions are the main driver of the purchase decision-making process could be death of us all. 

Tags: digital disruption, marketing strategy, brand strategy

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