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How to survive and thrive

How to survive and thrive

Developing ‘Brand as a Service’

Isabelle Schnellbuegel

Chief Strategy Officer

Ogilvy

isabelle.schnellbuegel@ogilvy.com

The idea that brands need to focus on their consumers is nothing new, yet many companies still don’t do it. Neglecting the reality of today’s economy, with its competitive environment and fully emancipated consumers, could soon spell the end of these businesses. So, how can companies create relevance that captures and excites people?

The landscape is changing rapidly

The pace of change we’re experiencing today is incredibly fast, but it’s probably the slowest pace we will experience for the rest of our lifetimes. While it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million people, Pokémon GO did it in 19 days.

The pace of technological development is staggering. For marketers, this creates an almost-unfathomable complexity of platforms, devices, touchpoints, channels, and metrics. Moreover, there are new, fast-moving players in the market that are overtaking slow enterprises with their legacy structures and silo thinking. Those disruptors are aggressive; defiant of the status quo. Most importantly, they understand what people want and where to find them better than anyone else. In this context, disruption is no longer disruptive. It is the new normal.

People don’t want products, they want solutions

It’s often said that three-quarters of all brands could disappear overnight, and no one would care. Brands today are not in a position to rely on fancy design, a great advertising story or historical success alone. They need to become relevant again by creating solutions to real problems and thus generating value for people. The central question companies need to answer is this: “What does the brand offer people that justifies them spending their valuable time with it?”.

People need to trust brands

Creating solutions, however, is not enough. People need to be able to trust the companies and brands they engage with. Brands need a clear overarching purpose that is understandable and relatable. They need to tell stories in a cohesive and holistic way, with every interaction. And, most importantly, they need to demonstrate that the story is more than just words by acting on it.

People crave convenience

E-commerce is the best example of how the quest for the convenient integration of specific needs into the busy lives of people can change whole industries, creating opportunities for some companies while wiping out others. But it’s not just about the convenient delivery of goods to people’s doors. It’s also about anticipating what they want, before they even want it.

People get excited about holistic, unique, and relevant brand experiences – with the last great experience always setting the bar for the next. The solution for brands in this context: to evolve into thinking about “Brand as a Service” (BaaS).

Brands should think about their offering as a platform, combining products with relevant services into one unique solution; a strong and modern brand promise with clear added value for the customer. Only those experiences that truly start with the human in mind, and not with feasibility or viability, become relevant. A BaaS approach can be distilled into four key steps:

  1. Evolving the brand promise

People search for solutions, not products. They are not really looking for a car or a beauty product. Their actual need is mobility or self-esteem. Brands that understand this are uniquely positioned to evolve their promise in a way that truly meets consumer expectations.

  1. Finding your BaaS stretch

When the brand purpose is future-ready, companies are ready to explore the possibilities of how the brand can better integrate itself into the lives of its customers. It is important to strike the right balance. If the brand doesn’t stretch far enough, it risks not having an impact on people’s lives. If stretched too far, the brand won’t be seen as credible in its new role.

  1. Redefining customer centricity

Brands need to deeply rethink their relationship with customers. Data can help them to learn more about purchase history, preferences, sentiment and so on. But it is unlikely to answer the most important question: “What really makes people tick?” Brands need to have true empathy to uncover real moments of truth and create a meaningful and sustainable difference. They need to become human-centric.

  1. Integrating product, service and brand

For a mature Brand as a Service strategy, brand, products and services must be fully integrated. Services complement products by integrating them digitally, focusing on convenience and adding value to people’s lives. In a true BaaS scenario, the product and the service become indistinguishable.

The BaaS approach demands a fundamental change in thinking and operating, especially for more traditional enterprises. However, if this transformation is well executed, it will help companies to future-proof their business. If not executed, or done poorly, brands will have a hard time surviving in the future.