Brand Innovation: What’s Next?

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by: Alain Thys

A colleague of mine just got asked to do a presentation on “brand innovation”, which is always a good opportunity to review what in our opinion could be done different in this area.  Here’s the gist of it …

These days, it’s not a fun place out there if you want to build a brand.

  • Changing consumer behaviour and increased buying power from retailers are forcing you to either become the cheapest or become premium, anything ‘in the middle’ simply doesn’t get bought.
  • People are simply  stopping to notice your adverts (there’s even neurological proof for that) and some are even actively getting upset with all the pointless claims that are being made every 2 seconds of their existence.
  • While – in the face of the above – one would expect a bit of restraint on the side of brands, the contrary is true.  New trademark registrations are at an all-time high, and once again it looks like the ad-market keeps growing.

To respond to this, there are many things you can do, yet three should be part of the mix:

  • Let go of mar-com dogma and reorganise your communication mix to match your customer’s media behaviour in a relevant way.  One of the main reasons why people stop noticing you is because you simply don’t communicate relevant stuff using the media they actually use.  Have a look at this pamphlet and this post for some first pointers.
  • Turn (part of) your brand over to your customer.  Yes, this is scary, yet if you want people to “love you” you have to realise that no love goes without trust.  Make them part of your branding efforts, product design, campaign development.  Involve them beyond simply giving their opinion in a focus group.
  • Really deliver on your brand promise.  I’m always amazed how few people can tell you in one word the promise they make to their customers.  Yet the actual delivery against this promise makes the difference between a “fake brand” and a “real brand”.  Consumers don’t just buy nice pictures any more, they want to see you execute against what you claim.  Really ask yourself whether you actually do this, at every touch point.  And if you don’t, relook at your efforts, as this will come back to bite you.

In short, brands need to stop talking “to”, yet start talking “with” their customers.  Those who walk in this direction, actually may have a chance of building a lasting relationship with these customers.  Those who want to continue on the path of hit and run, shouldn’t be disappointed if they eventually get dumped. 

This post is a Futurelab exclusive.

Photo by Dee-Lovely used under Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0