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As the complex relationship between brand and data evolves and expands, there’s an increasing call for brands to take a fresh look at how they operate and how they handle and use data. Introducing the data led brand strategy.
As important as it is, data is only one factor in the evolution of technology. The internet of things also heralds a ubiquity of code, software and APIs (application programming interfaces). In the world of marketing, unleashing content online and on social media is no longer enough to get the job done – stories and experiences now need to be translated through software and delivered in a branded way that connects with the overall brand strategy.
Message received – and upgraded
With data becoming an increasingly pivotal part of every brand, it makes sense that experts are now advising that businesses owners start thinking of their brand in terms of an API and build a data led brand strategy rather than the old fashioned approach to just broadcasting messages. In short, brands needs to be connecting their services to multiple interfaces in order to create a fluid system of operation. This may, however, be easier said than done. Jared Fink of design and strategy firm, Frog NY, is keen to point out that a seamless IoT and data based brand experiences demanded by customers presents an inherent design challenge. Jared says, ‘If I want to access a brand on both my mobile device and voice enabled speaker, it should be equally easy in each format but it’s not. Brands need to shift their investments now that they’re designing for many interfaces instead of just a few. Brands also need to be more responsive in terms of the structure of experiences and be adaptive when it comes to content.’
So, how do you untangle the web of complexity? It’s simple; you test and you learn from that testing – and then you test some more. Jared Fink says that the way forward is to choose your interfaces based on customer behaviour and then conduct strategic testing to land your data based brand strategy. Jared says, ‘This forces brands to test and learn- to become more of a beta environment – if you don’t test and learn, you don’t innovate; period. In addition, brands need to take a fresh look at their operations in order to follow a lean and agile software company style model.
Banishing a fear of failure
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that becoming lean and agile only relates to your product development though – much more than that, it’s about making a shift in the culture of your company. Resetting your business’s mindset to ‘continuous beta’ means not being afraid to fail – and usually more than once. Keeping your brand alive means taking strategic risks and accounting for failure in forecasting. This also means that your marketing and sales KPIs are going to be different for the brand who is serious about encouraging creative thinking.
Reshaping your culture for success
It’s time to stop thinking that the executive board is all that – the continuous beta brand needs to breed a company culture which has collaboration right at the heart of it. This can be done by supplementing existing employees and experts with enthusiastic and knowledgeable outside resources in order to instil a sense of freedom and do away with a fear of failure.
New kid on the block
Subject matter expertise is great but….yes you’ve guessed it – that’s not quite enough for success in the world of data driven brands! You also need to encourage a shift in skillset and mindset all the way through your business. In the brand new world of IoT, many points and factors overlap and brands need to find intelligent interfaces and integration points as well as creating effective ways of collaboration. The correct way of acting on these emerging patterns depends very much on another kind of strategist – the hybrid.
The hybrid is the professional who holds a great balance of analytical, creative, design and UX skills along with strong business acumen creating a hybrid of empath and engineer. An equal understanding of business objective, data and brand strategy. Hybrids understand metaphor as they are a dab hand at finding the similar in the dissimilar and at finding the least expected places to make connections and integrations. Hybrids tend to see the big picture automatically which makes them ideal translators between digital and offline and the tangible and intangible. When it comes to your business, they hybrid may just be the secret weapon you need to understand, translate, engineer and work the power of networked items to build the kind of experiences that your customers demand.
Track down the hybrids within your organisation and embed them strategically in unique teams to harness their full potential and bring your data led brand strategy to life. Poets, mathematicians and philosophers, your hybrids are the creative power of your organisation – empower them to use their powers for good not evil and they’ll lead your brand into a new, agile, software company style future.