It was one of the first calls I received, on the first business day back from the festivities of the new year. The person on the line was really fired up—eager to charge ahead. The topic, how to accelerate the momentum of our consulting rebranding in a year that — thanks to Omicron, the energy pricing crisis, ‘partygate,’ and I must sadly include the demise of Blackberry — could easily feel like an extension of last year’s slog of supply chain snarls, operations chaos and endless VCs.
Although many balance sheets ended 2021 on a high note, I was left wondering how those earnings may prove costly to some who have ‘chased the deal’ over living the brand ethos. To provide a relevant example, I am a huge Formula 1 fan, and the sport has just provided what is rightly regarded as one of the most thrilling race calendars in Formula 1’s history. 2022 is building up to be the most competitive yet with the introduction of new rules that promise to close the gap between racing teams. But the sport’s reputation, rather than being on a high, is in disrepair by questionable rule enforcement. The many brand positives of Formula 1’s innovations at the forefront of technology and engineering design, promoting social issues and sustainability, have been tarnished through ‘off the track administration’. Commentators around the globe are openly talking about what Formula 1 stands for – racing purity or television viewer excitement? I think it fair to say that this represents a significant brand challenge that is perilous to ignore, as many die-hard fans demand to see decisive change so they can trust the integrity of those driving the sport. Here in the UK we have clear sight of how actions considered individually and not in the brand spirit of those being served can have catastrophic implications, with the ‘bring your own’ fallout at No.10.
I have read numerous articles touting 2022 as the year of reinvention. If the above examples teach us anything, all transformation agendas must be for the enhancement and application of your brand values, i.e. your reputation and ethics, relentlessly pursued at all levels. Brand experience management is an organisation-wide effort. Everyone from IT to operations to marketing is responsible. Otherwise trust carefully built over years can be admonished for short-sighted goals. Since the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, brand relationships have never been more important given work relationships have atrophied, as familiar stronghold events and forums we used to connect have disappeared. How best to refresh those industry networks and work relationships now?
Sounds simple, even basic—but it’s harder than we think. Therefore, before we do anything else, we must look inward before we look outward. At Definia we resolved to look at our values, motivations, strengths, and blind spots. Having the honesty to be self-aware! By knowing ourselves, we can manage ourselves first, so we can positively impact others. This is certainly what matters as we look to create our value proposition and determine what we want to ‘become famous for.’
Now that we are in the position to improve ourselves, our job and what our clients want from us is then to help them improve. One of our four core values is ‘culture of independence.’ This represents a simple belief and value proposition that our success must be measured in what we help our clients achieve and continue to achieve through our legacy. After all, no service provider is a solo performer with value intended only for the few.
Improving brand awareness continues to be one of the top five marketing priorities for the next 12 months (Forbes 2021). While brand management has been a longstanding practice for organisations, it has become a stale and ineffective process. Ultimately, think purpose and brand first. Strategy is next to useless without execution—and 90% of execution is people, and people personify your brand. It’s the mentality of commoditising some of the basics and gaining clarity on what differentiates you, using experience data to ensure you are living and sharing this brand philosophy. More importantly, to be well-equipped to act on what prospects are saying they want now, and next, otherwise when we look behind nobody will be there.
The COVID era has revealed an enduring truth: it’s people—colleagues and teams, managers and leaders— who discover and disrupt, innovate and create. 2022 is our time of change. Indeed, the change we want to see in others starts with us. If our client conversations at the start of 2022 are a measure of things to come, the current crisis is a common motivator for organisations to refocus and expand their brand experience and behaviours within their product development processes. Ultimately, we are about inspiring others to believe and grow. But if we don’t believe it ourselves, why should anybody else?
Brands are at an inflection point. Today, consumers and employees have more options than ever before, and the cost of switching has never been lower. For any business grappling with the question of how to reinvent in 2022, investigating the benefits of strengthening your brand is a great place to start, and many businesses are speaking to us about protecting and living their brand and the enabling technology and insights required as part of their sustainable transformation journey. If you’d like any more advice or want to know more about extracting insights from experience data to thrive, please contact us.