Brands are no longer defined simply by positioning their roles in people's lives.
It is the experience a brand creates and curates, though it's products and services, that defines it in the minds of customers.
Here's where you come in. Increasingly these products and services are delivered via digital channels.
The channels may be underpinned by solid enterprise technology but they are fast changing with new ones frequently emerging.
Because the modern brand experience lives predominantly online, it's important CIO's understand what it takes to build and sustain a successful brand there.
Through my work, I know most peer-to-peer recommendation is based on the experience, and by this I mean the individual's perception and emotional take out of interacting with those online products and services.
If the experience fails, so does the brand.
- How does that impact the design of the end-to-end experience?
- How does a CIO support the role of the brand in their organisation?
- What role does technology play in this?
Here are five principles for designing a strong and flexible brand experience:
1. Ubiquitous -- be available everyday, through the right channels, at the right time.
Value for the customer is more often easier to create post-purchase. Think how you can add services along the experience chain, not just at the point of consideration or sale.
- The role of technology: To provide a scalable platform for a joined up end-to-end customer experience. One that can be delivered on their terms, be it through a mobile device or an IP-TV.
- Actions: Map your touch-points across the customer lifecycle. Where can you expand to create the most customer value? This may not directly involve selling anything. Think instead of services that enhance the existing product experience.
2. Social -- a brand that helps their customer build connections with others will enhance their experience. So how can the experience itself and the artefacts within it be made shareable or viral?
- The role of technology: To provide an open platform for the interchange of data, people and their connections.
- Actions: Consider how people (customers and employees) can play a role in enhancing the brand experience. Consider how both explicit networks -- the people we have stated we know (Facebook), and implicit networks (a pop-up social graph based on location, for instance) can be used to enhance the experience.
3. Semantic -- More data exists than ever before: what information should you be making available to customers? How do you create simple meaning from its layered complexity in the most human way?
- The role of technology: To make the appropriate data accessible to the customer and to the business whether it be through a call centre, web site or mobile device.
- Actions: Conduct a data audit. Do you have the right data available to deliver on the brand promise -- is it exposed, is it used at all? What insight can be gained from it?
4. Sentient -- The Brand experience should create connections to the real world, by sensing the context of customers, and reacting or ideally pre-empting to it.
- The role of technology: To connect the enterprise to the real world so events can seamlessly trigger a response in the brand experience. Ideally the experience created by you could even pre-empt the customers' behaviour.
- Actions: Understand the technology used by and available to your customers. How can this be used to sense the context in which they interact with the brand, and how the brand can react to that context? Map this along the experience chain.
5. Human -- What is the most natural way for customers to interact with your brand? How do we simplify complexity?
- The role of technology: To provide the simplest, most elegant solution possible.
- Actions: Define a set of product principles by which developers and design teams must adhere. Product principles will ensure new products and services are aligned to the brand and business strategy.
While these principles are by no means definitive they are a starting point for challenging the existing experience. They can help a brand maintain a role in their customer's lives that is living, human, considerate and above all valuable.