Businesses have always sought to influence customer perception of their brands by setting out a clear and highly defined brand essence. Brand essence used to be a strategic marketing pillar that enabled marketers to ensure all communications embodied the values they wanted customers to experience.
Today, the longevity of brands remaining in favour is shorter than ever. Brands must act and react rapidly within a dynamic and evolving omnichannel landscape where challenger brands can now pop up overnight. The Havas Meaningful Brands study shows that seven of the top ten brands in the UK over-index on making people’s lives easier by delivering a frictionless customer experience. Fifty per cent of the world’s most meaningful brands in 2015 are actually technology-enabled ones such as Samsung, Google and Amazon.
'Data and evidence leading decision-making will allow all aspects of the customer experience to be optimised'
People now expect a seamless multichannel, multi-device experience and want to select their channels to interact with a brand. Marketers are rightly obsessed with trying to understand their customers’ journeys, using data and insights to optimise both physical and digital touchpoints that contribute to the customer experience. Media can no longer remain about paid touchpoints; it is about seamless delivered experiences across owned, shared, paid and earned channels.
What is surprising is that, in 2014, Forrester reported that only 18 per cent of businesses had aligned their customer experience with their brand strategy. I would argue that this is because they have yet to work out how to action their customer journey insights in media. Legacy technology infrastructure and a siloed mentality stand in the way of this changing fast – but change it must.
This is where actionable "data" becomes paramount. Data and evidence leading decision-making will allow all aspects of the customer experience to be optimised in line with customer expectation. With more than 50 per cent of media consumption now "on the go" (mobile/tablet/wearables), it is imperative that brands think about how to put people at the centre and how to optimise towards what people find easiest and like, rather than what the algorithm tells them.
All the communication touchpoints I have referred to are about the same thing – relationship management and brand-building. All touchpoints must be relevant, personalised and useful. Engagement is more about content than advertising; the challenge is to employ data (quantitative) and insight (qualitative) in equal measures to inform both where and when but also how to produce content that is of value for the relevant touchpoint.
Paul Frampton is the chief executive of Havas Media UK