Building an agile brand to thrive in the connected world

Building an brand to adapt and thrive in the connected world

Agile Brand

Words by Prayag Shah

Jan 10, 2019

5 Minute Read

Today we must view every brand as in beta. A brand is never launched and a brand is never finished. To launch a brand is to imply completion, a brand is always in progress.

The connected world has shifted the way people interact, consume and react. It has transformed expectations, consumers now have a vast array of choices available just a touch away. Brands that once solely survived as a strong mark of quality, are now threatened by unfamiliar brands that come with a five-star review on Amazon.

The brands are not any more known by their logo, colours or an ambassador, all has shifted into one big snowball of experience. What was long held as sacrosanct to a brand is now increasingly considered old-fashioned. The traditional practices of brand development and management are undergoing profound change.

The speed of modern day disruptions means we must create and manage brands in an entirely new context.

The first movers and the ones who understood the importance of embracing the digital-first mindset, have swept their industry and are continuously evolving to the rhythm of the fast-changing demands.

It’s not merely just evolving to the future but creating it and enabling oneself to lead from the front — pushing boundaries. Challenging oneself to adapt to the unknown what lies ahead, especially before competitors.

Airbnb put the idea of ‘belonging’ at the heart of every touchpoint. Netflix’s design and motion language showcase the content you love. Uber’s recent rebrand unifies its services around the world that’s instantly recognizable and efficient to execute. And trillion-dollar giant Amazon completely re-framed expectations of service and delivery.

To disrupt their respective sectors, these companies understood one thing: the power of experience as a differentiator. They take people on a journey that conveys their brand values and personality at every touchpoint.

Brands have shifted from talking about themselves, their products and services (inside-out) to facilitating customer needs beyond the functional benefits (outside-in).

Tomorrow’s most successful brands will be chosen by the rapidly evolving customer of the future, whose expectations and choices will look much different from the customers of 50 years ago or even today. But the brands that thrive are always the ones that connect and solidify emotional connections with their customers — and that holds true time and time again.

The profound changes around the corner raise critical questions:

What do we need to do differently to meet the needs of the customer of the future?

How will our value proposition and business model need to change?

How do we stay relevant to Dawn?

Agile, sprint-based cycles of think > make > learn ­ — to then inform fresh thinking ­ — are foundational in the new world economy. Waterfall approaches are replaced by iterative testing, command-and-control decision-making gives way to the empowerment of many, and the incremental rollout (versus big-bang roll out) of evolutionary progress becomes part of the organization’s culture. Agile process also should be applied to

Connect purpose with experience

Every company, whether traditional or native tech, started with a truth: a clear purpose and set of beliefs. But it’s very difficult to tie that truth to the end-user experience. Every detail of brand experience — from the very first moment a user engages down to the last checkout button or confirmation email — has the opportunity to either connect or disconnect from the brand truth. It’s our job to make sure it connects at every stage of the journey.

Work with the change, then resist it.

Whether the company is a startup or an established player, flexible evolution helps brands expand and ready themselves for the future. Adaptive brands stay competitive and ensure relevance with consumers.

eg. Uber overhauled its rebranding in just less than 3 years. Old Uber logo evoked the history of cars — squarish and hyper-masculine, due to that they were being associated with cars and technology only.

It learned quickly and adapted itself to move away from all the communication focused on competitive and product based mind-set, to a global mobility story. Its rebranding message was clear and strong — It wants to be the way you move into the future. That message is powerful, sure. But now, Uber as a company needs to live up to it.

Understanding culture defines success

For many business leaders, this will require a shift in mindset and a clearer understanding of how brand adds business value. While that may seem extreme, it’s not. Employees need a sense of purpose to deliver top results. When they know what the company represents and how they fit into that picture, they can better deliver the company’s promise to consumers. By elevating business from transactional to relationship-driven, organizations can establish meaningful and deep client relationships that allow them to expand their services. And by shifting marketplace consideration with a strong brand, new clients and growth suddenly become available.

Brands that put the customer first

In Humanist art, How do you know what is good or bad art? Art or beauty is anything that humans think or define as art or beautiful and not God.

Brands need to be multifaceted

Brands with multifaceted personalities connect emotionally with consumers.

Six basic vectors that it says are instrumental to an innovative, adaptive company: Purpose, experimentation, collaboration, empowerment, looking out (i.e. staying informed about what’s happening in the industry), and refinement (the ability to successfully execute new ideas).

Illustration — Sourajit Sengupta

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