Building brands can seem an ever more complicated business.
Look at this chart my students put together, summarising 10 major changes we explored during my USC course.
It's a good illustration of how much traditional practices are being disrupted by our hyper-connected world.
Shared Purpose, Usefulness, Experience, Engagement, Advocacy. These are a far cry from the traditional language of marketing that I was brought up on, with its 4Ps and broadcast-based model.
Despite all this, the fundamentals for creating a loyal brand remain largely the same:
- Provide something that's useful to people in their lives. Save them time or money, perhaps, or give them a better experience.
- Do it in a way that's likeable, and engaging. With human decision-making largely based on emotion, make a connection.
- Show loyalty to those that embrace you. Over time, you'll earn their trust.
As a CMO, I would always ask "What's in it for the customer?" when evaluating a change, to connect it back to one of these three. While the way of achieving them was becoming increasingly different, and more challenging, they still remained solid foundations.
However, among the disruption, there has been one profound change.
Thanks to the increasing frequency and variety of interactions that the connected world has enabled, the behaviors of the organization behind the brand are now increasingly on show. Where once advertising could create an external image, a brand today is largely defined by the organizational culture behind it.
So as well as "What's in it for the customer?", a CMO also needs to ask "Are we living the brand?". If the answer's no, then it's a red light, a call for action across the organization to change it.
Otherwise, over time customers will sense that your brand's not genuine.
Then, instead of strong foundations, you'll be building a brand on sand...