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5 tenets of brand viability

Some people in the digital sector, especially, have ceased to believe in brands. However, I am convinced that in the digital age, more than any other, brands offer precisely what we need in a multi-optional, information-flooded world: orientation. Brands condense a large volume of information into a (hopefully) relevant promise. Of course brands that want to be successful in the future, will also have to adapt to a society in transition. Anyone who takes the following five tenets for the brand management of the future to heart, will have a good chance of achieving this.

1. Viable brands are defined in three dimensions

What is a brand? A logo, a slogan, a value proposition? The appearance and if possible, differentiated positioning are only two dimensions shaping the brand image and consumer perceptions. In the digital age, every brand must prove itself, above all in its direct interaction with people. In order to offer a coherent, self-similar brand experience, the brand must establish rules of conduct which govern how it interacts while defining its stance towards people and the subjects on which it pronounces.

2. Viable brands offer a real benefit

The days when brand communication consisted in stating as loudly as possible why your own brand is so great and why people should buy it, are over. To be noticed for the long term, brands today must not only compete for people’s attention, but also offer content which delivers a noticeable, relevant benefit in the eyes of consumers. Depending on the context and the target market, this can, for example, consist of personalised offers, entertainment, monetary benefits or exclusive information. To enable the brand to develop promising content, the challenge is to put customers and their needs not just at the beginning but at the centre of your own concepts and actions.

3. Viable brands are user-friendly

Our digital devices have accustomed us to getting fast, easy access to everything we need. Usability is the umbrella term for the degree of user-friendliness experienced. This is not primarily about content. From the website via the hotline all the way to local service — every touchpoint with the brand should be intuitively comprehensible, simple to use and capable of being unambiguously implemented.

4. Viable brands communicate personally and in personalised fashion

People in a digitised world expect personal communication and personalised content and offers from their brands. If such offers are tailored to their individual needs, users will reward the brand with above-average response, purchase and loyalty rates. However, it is vital to find the right degree of personalisation: just because it’s technically possible, doesn’t mean it makes sense. Because enthusiasm over the newsletter containing exactly the right offers can quickly turn into a horrified “How do they know that?”.

5. Viable brands offer a consistent, coherent customer experience

Today, people experience brands at many very different touchpoints: in a shop, on the website as well as on social media and through advertising. In the best case, this so-called customer experience will give a consistent, coherent overall image across the various touchpoints. So here is my tip. Place a relevant customer experience at the start and at the centre of your transformation in the marketing sphere. In doing so, you will create a good platform — on the one hand for the greatest possible success today, and on the other, to ensure the viability of your brand tomorrow.

Strengthen your future viability with a platform strategy

An important key to success and future viability in the digital age is the perceived relevance of a company’s offering in the eyes of the users. This can be increased through added value such as product enhancements and services. It is a strategic option to open the own offer to partners and to integrate their solutions according to the actual needs and potential. That way, it is possible to flexibly design the own offering in the sense of a modular system and to significantly increase the relevance in the eyes of the users. The requirement for this is to exactly know the customers and their demands, to observe the competition intensively, and to look for appropriate partners in order to constantly increase the added value of the own offering.

Examples of such platform strategies can currently be found a lot in the financial sector, where established financial service providers are being attacked from different sides. FinTechs particularly, but also nonfinancial providers such as telecommunications and technology companies take over individual parts of the bank’s value chain and develop separate business models for this purpose. The new players offer products and services that are easy to understand, easy to use, and often even fun. What distinguishes the traditional players are above all their broad customer base, decades of tradition and experience, brand strength, customer confidence, market knowledge, human and financial resources, as well as existing structures and networks. In order to prepare for the future, start-ups and banks have to cooperate with each other – finding and networking with the right partner from both worlds becomes a decisive success factor for the own future viability. And this is certainly not only true for the financial industry.