Rethink This: Brand Currency

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Do we build brands based on quantitative or qualitative measures? Are we in the business of spending more time with people or making the time we spend with them that much better?

The following article is published on

    There exists an interesting misunderstanding regarding the goal of digital / connected technologies – the ones that articulate themselves into utilities, applications or services. The claim being that although the goal of spending more time with people are interesting to most brands, the success of such a strategy will be limited as people already have enough things to fill their time with.

    The argument is nothing but a perfect example of trying to put new ideas into old contexts. Limiting our perspective and seeing new technology as nothing more than a more efficient or effective version of old technology – in this case; media technology.

    This “media mindset” is a one dimensional interpretation of marketing initiatives seeing them only as communication, stories or content – all three time consuming, and all three demanding exclusive attention to work.

      (This is another misunderstanding of digital – we should spend more time thinking of things that are without screens rather than things that are on them).

    This mindset is all well and good and runs like clockwork inside the media world. But, connected technologies is not a more efficient or effective way of getting peoples attention in the media landscape; it’s a new way of offering increased quality to experiences that are shared between the brand and the consumer.

      (It is important to differentiate between “digital” – which is nothing more than a material technology on par with paper, plastic or the TV, and “connected technologies”. The latter is what happens as “digital” things and machines get connected to the Internet, gaining new abilities such as; real-time, synchronous, the cloud, sophisticated algorithms and memory, recording device etc. These abilities open up to a whole new universe of brand and marketing opportunities that we need to start exploring. Retail and in-store definitely no exception!)

    The whole idea that the goal of a marketing activity is to spend more time with people, because time equals message penetration has past its expiration date.

    Today we’re not necessarily working with media models we are designing the arenas and the experience around the use of products or interactions with the brand. Sometimes the goal of these interactions is not that they take longer and demand more attention, but might even be for people to spend less time with a brand and create less interference.

    Let me present you with an example:

    To a frequent business traveller, spending valuable minutes at hotel checkout waiting in line behind hotel-“amateurs” or foreign tourists with translation difficulties might create a bad and unnecessary experience that will reflect on the product and the brand. In this case a smart service offered to the hotels most important business travellers would be the ability to checkout via their mobile when they are already in their cab on the way to the airport. This offers a shorter, but more qualitative experience (they don’t even have to hand in a room key, the mobile application is the key).

    Our branding, marketing and digital autopilot is programmed to create ideas designed to have people spend more time with the brand. Time, which sometimes can be an enabler of other success criteria, suddenly becomes a prerequisite or even a goal in itself. But time is often irrelevant and sometimes counter productive to what the marketing investment tries to achieve. Our autopilot has suddenly turned time into a success criteria or a goal in itself and we start to ignore our real job; to increase the perceived quality of the experience, and by that both increasing the likelihood someone will use, and return to our offer (goals of which time is not concerned).

    In other words:

    Brand currency, the value generated from our investments, is not equal to spending more time with people, but making the time they have to spend with us more valuable.

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