Earlier this year, The New Yorker published an article entitled "Twilight of the Brands," which posited that due to the abundance of information now available to consumers, brands are irrelevant. For all the die-hard brand marketers out there — myself included — it felt like a blow to the chest. But the analysis is flawed and the conclusion is erroneous because the abundance of information now available to consumers makes brands more — not less — relevant. Brands have always been a shortcut to decision-making, and in a world where consumers are increasingly overwhelmed with information, that role becomes even more important. But what has changed is the art and science of brand building. In the age of the customer, we see that:
- Brand communications have shifted from controlled to chaotic. In the pre-digital world, marketers had the luxury of being able to control most of their customers’ interactions with their brands — through ads, packaging, POS, and carefully solicited PR editorial. But in today’s post-digital era, most of consumers’ information about a brand originates from sources outside of the brand’s control, such as user-generated content, ratings and reviews, or social chatter.
- Savvy brands are investing in the convergence of brand and customer experience. Leading firms have identified the critical role a good (or bad) customer experience has on their brand, and they are putting their dollars behind it. Delta invested $3 billion to revamp its customers’ experience not just in the air, but on the ground. This includes better mobile features like being able to rebook a missed or cancelled flight directly in the Delta app, along with better facilities at the gate like comfy seats with plenty of USB and power outlets to go around.
- Chief marketing officers must shift from brand management to brand experience. CMOs must shift their organizations from a company-centric view that controls the brand as an asset to a customer-centric mindset that serves to create a more holistic experience across every touchpoint from TV screen to customer service.
In recognition of this new era, we are updating and renaming the brand playbook from the 21st century brand marketing playbook to the brand experience playbook. If you’d like to learn more about the new direction and what it means for you, check out the new vision “Brand Experience Redefines Brand Management” report (subscription required) and the executive overview "Create A Customer-Centric Brand Experience."