Dr. Sharon Livingston
MASTERING THE ART OF BRANDING IN A CONSTANTLY EVOLVING INDUSTRY
Brand marketers have a million and one considerations when they start the process of determining how best to share their story and entice their target audience. What’s the best way to proceed while ensuring they maintain their reputation? Would an activation enhance or take away from a strategy? Where is the consumer becoming most interested in their product, and what is the best way to capitalize on that enthusiasm? And this doesn’t even get into the inner-workings of these specific brands, such as the significance of the CMO and other C-suite members.
We asked our Adweek Advisory Board—comprised of 23 leaders across marketing, media and technology—to weigh in with their thoughts on what brands might be missing in the customer journey, how they predict the CMO’s responsibilities will continue to change, how brands can deal with digital disruption and what goes into creating an effective activation.
Redefining the role of the CMO
There’s been a lot of discussion on how chief marketing officers are changing, from their job description down to the letters in the acronym—are they a chief diversity officer, or perhaps a chief visionary officer instead? There are even some who believe the CMO won’t be a necessity to brands in the future.
“Nearly 88 percent of organizations agree that the CMO’s remit has changed in the past two years and that it will likely continue to change over the next two years,” Baiju Shah, chief strategy officer at Accenture Interactive said, citing research from a study Accenture recently commissioned with Forrester. “The research also finds that nearly 87 percent of organizations agree that traditional experiences are no longer enough to satisfy their customers.”
One thing that has led to this changing landscape is, of course, the introduction of new tech and the new processes that come along with it.
“CMOs have an important seat at the table because of their new superpower: analytics,” said Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Hypergiant. “Equipped with new data at their disposal to support their marketing efforts, CMOs wield more power than ever before. Analytics enables them to ground every conversation in the boardroom and support every campaign with facts and stats instead of just opinions.”
Preparing for digital disruption
As with every facet of the industry, digital trends and emerging technology have greatly altered the sphere, and brands constantly need to tweak their tried and true practices to ensure they’re able to keep up.
Just one of these adaptations, Terrance Williams, CMO and president of emerging businesses at Nationwide, points out is that “many brands have developed corporate innovation teams and found ways to activate an innovative culture (including disrupting current business models) across the entire employee base.” He continued, “Innovation’s impact will be felt by the masses, not just the few [who are] focused solely on corporate innovation.”
In a similar vein, Shah said, “By constantly evolving to meet customer demands, companies become hyper-relevant and ultimately transform themselves into living businesses. … Brands must have the courage to apply innovation with greater intensity to reinvent existing ways of working to achieve deep organizational change.”
Alicia Hatch, CMO of Deloitte Digital, recommends tearing down the system and implementing a new system companywide. “Brands can prepare for digital disruptions by across tearing down capability silos and shifting to agile marketing workflows across the whole organization.”
This is a concept that Lamm agrees with: “Siloed company structures where sales is separated from marketing, which in turn is opaque to product development are not going to be able to survive this new fast-paced environment. These companies need to start using data and machine now or risk going out of business.”
Filling in the gaps
Along the customer journey, it’s expected that there are opportunities that brands simply aren’t seeing, by no fault of their own. Catering to a consumers’ needs has drastically changed, with a strong emphasis on personalized experiences becoming a requirement for marketers now.
Hatch noted that the brands who are applying emotional data to their strategies are the ones who are creating captivating experiences. “We’ve gone from a world where branding is everything to everything is branding. Every single touchpoint of a customer journey—not just the marketing—creates a larger brand experience,” she said. “Effective brand marketers have this holistic view and thread the brand experience across the entire business.”
And when creating these activations and experiences for consumers, according to Williams, this requires a simple formula. “Digital first—personalization and elimination of friction—built with a singular focus on the user’s experience.”
Ultimately, noted Shah, you can always rely on your audience to let you know if they’re displeased (or thrilled!) by something you’ve done in the branding process. “Consumers will readily share their delight or disdain with a product experience, and most consumers believe recommendations from friends and family much more than advertising. If a consumer has a bad experience with a product or with a brand, then that negative word-of-mouth will render millions spent on advertising worthless.” SOURCE: Adweek