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3 disruptors for brand builders

When advising clients I am often asked quite early on in the relationship what I consider to be the key challenges for branded goods and services over the coming years.

I have pinpointed 3 important disruptors that I’d like to share and would love to hear your thoughts on.

1. Authenticity of the brand: Has your brand earned the “right” to do what it does? And does that “right” extrapolate into the future? Authenticity is earned over time through consistently creating real value for the consumer and creating value for society (I have previously discussed the need for shared value creation, specifically transparency, here). A favourite example of an authentic brand is Nivea. Total focus on skin care, since forever. Today, the brand demonstrates great all round activation, from sponsorships to selfie competitions on social media, adding relevant value for the consumer while openly declaring and communicating its sustainability initiatives.

(Nivea should also be praised for their consistent brand identity too – great understanding of the power of colour. Photos here are from the Berlin store)

2. Curating not creating: Consumer generated content is a massive disruptor, especially for large multi-brand organisations. In a world where senior management and senior marketers grew up controlling every aspect of the brand's communication and image it is easy to see why those large organisations struggle with the social media world where their consumers can, frankly, say what they like. All the more reason to have a well-defined brand understanding and purpose that can be “curated” and co-created with your consumers. You make the railway tracks and let your consumers fuel the train…

3. Science and technology: Obvious, I know, but both play driving roles across all our industries. Food, beverage, household and pharma products will continue to benefit from scientific advances; food becoming more functional, for example, everyday foods that help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile we are all continually affected by tech and data advances. On the one hand, managing consumer data is already changing how marketers operate, (worth a look at what P&G are doing with Teradata). On the other hand one only has to look at the opportunities in augmented reality that Pokemon Go has so ably shown to the world, to demonstrate the speed of change we are now encountering. Perhaps Google should bring back Glass, a far superior vehicle for Pokemon Go gamers than the smartphone!

Companies and brands must face these disrupting influences, strategically and as a whole, not sequentially, or tactically for short term wins. Brands need to be authentic. If they are, consumers will happily generate content for them. Brands will embrace science to help lead the market in their category. Furthermore, the intelligent use of science, technology and data will, in turn, help brands become closer to their consumer. The future is bright for smart brands that truly value their consumers.

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