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The Four Keys to the Future of Brand Management

The Four Keys to the Future of Brand Management

How can brands engage with customers across physical, digital, and virtual worlds? Learn how to adapt brand management for the future.

There is more to a company than the product, there is the brand. 

Those five letters can turn any company into a market leader. Take Apple for example. According to CSI Market Research, there are dozens of competitors but Apple’s sales growth in Q2 2021 was almost 30 % higher than their competitors. 

Brand is not new, and its power is well understood. However, our future is not the past. So, how will brand management change in the future? Here are the four keys to brand management in the future.

There are now 5 P’s to brand management

The four “P’s”— price, product, promotion, and place — have long been the foundation for brand management. Now, we are witnessing the introduction of a fifth: Purpose. 

Consumers say they care about companies’ stance on topics like social issues and climate. They expect brands to be more than providers of goods; they want them to be active parts of their community. 

Consumers do more than say they want brands to be purposeful. They are putting their money where their mouths are. Literally! In 2019, sales of organic food amounted to US$106 billion, up from nearly US$18 billion in 2000. 

In the minds of consumers, top brands come and go. For example, Oscar Mayer, a global top 50 food brand for decades, fell from 19th place in 2018 to 30th place in 2021. Meanwhile, in Asia, new brands like Grab and Traveloka see explosive growth. Brands in the future must have a purposeful element.

Brand storytelling shifts to collaborative story making

Brands have long been about storytelling, but in our new world of infinite media, this tactic is fading fast. 

Take the UN for example. When COVID-19 hit, they wanted to tell the world to be safe. They could have done the usual: go to their agency, present a brief, and then make a campaign. Instead, they asked 13,000 artists to create messages and share on their personal social media channels. The result was 13,000 pieces of art, each driving significant engagement. The UN collaborated with the market to create the story, and by doing so, they produced a radically different result.

Influencer marketing, user generated content, and co-creation are all tactical examples of this shift. The future of brand management is going to look more like community management than creative brainstorming.

A shift from long planning cycles to rapid response units

Branding campaigns are often large affairs. There is the period of research, followed by analysis, planning, and finally execution. Typically, this cycle is many months long. This timeline was appropriate for a world that moved at a slow pace, but not in our current and future worlds where we measure news and media cycles by minutes. For brands to keep up, they will need to shift their notion of branding from creative campaigns to responsive actions. 

Take Audi and GM for example. During the 2021 Super Bowl, GM aired a campaign that picked on Norway and electric cars. Within 48 hours, Audi, the number one seller of electric cars in that country, responded with a TV advertisement. The response went viral, and spread across the globe in under 24 hours. The Fast Advertising Alliance interviewed the Audi team and asked if they would do this type of rapid response again. The Audi team simply said, “Yes!”

The shift from experiences to outcomes

Brands have long been focused on experiences. Yet, new research shows this is coming to an end. Yes, experience will always matter, but how brands are viewing experiences are changing. Why?

This quote from a recent interview with a Chief Customer Officer at a leading SaaS company explains it best. She said, “We have happy customers with great experiences leave all the time, while we have many unhappy ones stay. The difference is the outcomes they receive.” 

Experiences are only the methods brands use to ensure outcomes are more easily achieved. If no outcome is achieved, it doesn’t matter how frictionless or beautiful it was. I’m seeing many brands even degrade the power of Net Promoter Score and replace it with Time To Value (TTV). The new north star of TTV helps brands focus on key customer desires, and then only focus on the key experiences that help produce the outcomes customers want. The brands that are able to produce outcomes faster and more efficiently will win in the future.

The future of brand management

In the future, brands have to perform across a fractured landscape of physical, digital, and virtual worlds. Each place will require different techniques, yet the methods will remain consistent. Brands must shift away from storytelling to collaborative story making. 

In doing so, they must also embrace fast advertising, and favour rapid response over laborious planning. When they engage the market, they need to understand they are being judged on how they show up, and must embrace a purposeful position. Being purposeful in your advertising is only one facet, brands must be holistically purposeful as transparency only increases in the future. Brands projecting good as a facade will lose trust with their market, and quickly be replaced. 

Brands that make these shifts will be best suited to meet future consumer needs and get good market returns. 

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