Pandemic has caused an ethnographic disruption in every industry and buying habits, consumption habits, viewing habits, social norms have all changed
By Peeyush Dubey
The global brand consulting and design firm, Landor & Fitch, recently published an insightful research on importance of looking at brands as more than a just communications tool, but as a strategic asset to be nurtured, built, and protected. While the report primarily looked at brands in the Indian IT sector, the thought is relevant to all industries. The report compelled me to think about the significance of integrated brand strategy and key steps for any brand to build and sustain it. This becomes even more critical in the post-pandemic world. Be it B2B or B2C, marketers need to rethink how they position their brand and connect with their audience. In this article, I propose simple steps that can be applied in any sector or region. The primary objectives for all marketing teams should be:
– Understanding the changing buyer
– Navigating their journeys, and
– Enriching their experience at every touchpoint
With this simple charter, marketers can approach the new world easily. Let us look at each of them carefully:
– Understanding the changing buyer – Pandemic has caused an ethnographic disruption in every industry. Buying habits, consumption habits, viewing habits, social norms have all changed. Be it a paper napkin or an artificial intelligence solution, the buying process is not what it used to be. The first job of marketers, therefore, is to comprehend these changes and their impact on consumer behavior. How has their motivation changed, how are they shortlisting options now, how are they researching products, what factors are affecting their perceptions about your brand, who influences their decisions in the new social order, and is your customer service team prepared to answer their questions in a timely manner? These are some of the questions every brand must answer.
– Navigating their journeys – At the turn of this century, the job of a marketer was simpler. They knew their channels of communication and their audience followed a predictable pattern. Brands hopped on to all mediums of promotions across billboards, print, radio, and TV, reiterating the same scripts or similar concepts across these channels. The same is not true anymore. The channels are fragmented, new platforms are emerging regularly and the customer journey is unpredictable. The funnel does not work the same way either. Every journey could begin on a different platform and follow an irregular pattern. The pandemic has further added to this complexity. Brands need to be active on more channels and have a true omni-channel strategy, as opposed to just a multi-channel strategy where a brand may be present across platforms but not seamlessly connected.
– Enriching their experience – Now we come to the part that has been talked about the most and understood the least. As customers access your brand on more platforms than ever
– Marketers must think of Out-of-Home experience, desktop experience, mobile experience, tablet experience, and even watch experience. According to the State of the Connected Customer research by Salesforce (Oct 2020) that surveyed more than 15,600 consumers and businesses globally, 66% of respondents expected companies to understand their needs and expectations. They also expected connected journeys, personalisation, innovation, and data protection. These are only possible when brands pivot their strategy around customer experience. To be successful in today’s world, it is imperative to reach the right customer, at the right time, on the right screen.
Developing an integrated brand strategy:
– Have an authentic purpose – The first step for marketers is to define the core purpose of the brand and make it the center point of their brand strategy. For an automotive company, it could be safety, for a tech company, it could be innovation. At LTI, we defined the central purpose of our brand to solve, and it is the same for all stakeholders
– customers, prospects, employees, alliance partners, vendors, shareholders, and public-at-large. It is the north star that guides all communications.
– Augment each channel with other – for B2C companies, print and broadcast must lead to a digital handoff. For B2B companies, conferences and webinars must be the initial stage for nurturing prospect through tele-marketing. Messages must be integrated across owned, earned, paid, and shared channels.
– Importance of being data-driven – one of the core aspects of modern marketing is the exponential amount of data available to marketers to decide. While respecting the privacy and security of data, brand strategists must create a 360-degree view of customers to offer personalised experiences, predict their behavior, and leverage the
power of 3As – Analytics, Automation, and AI.
– Be real-time and proactive – with programmatic marketing approach, marketers can develop a social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) strategy to proactively reach their audience with a targeted message. In the age of social commerce, the decisions are being made on impulse but brands must be ready with their groundwork to be on the right side of this trend.
– Realise it’s a journey, not a destination – One of the most visited sites in Barcelona – Basílica de la Sagrada Família, has been under construction since 1882! This fact does not take away from its beauty or interest. Similarly, the role of a brand strategist is never accomplished. It is a journey that must continue.
The author is chief marketing officer, LTI (L&T Infotech)