These are some of the most common questions I’m asked in conversations about innovation, customer experience (CX), digital transformation, marketing, service/support and leadership:
- What does it mean to be a modern and relevant brand today?
- What is the role of CX and marketing in the brand experience?
- What defines exceptional customer experiences?
- What is the role of innovative technology in all of this?
- How are organizational models changing?
- What are some of the most successful companies doing about it?
In almost every conversation about amazing brands, we usually hear the usual suspects, Apple, Google, Amazon, Mercedes, Disney, Coca-Cola, Nike. Whether they change our lives, help us achieve our goals or align with our identity, values or ambitions, we connect with them for deeply personal reasons. That is an experience. And the more personal the experience, the stronger the emotional bond. But to get there, you have to know what people truly value and connect with at a given moment. This is at the heart of brand and experience innovation.
Each, in their own way, is investing in innovative technologies, customer data and new operational models to understand where, how and when to deliver value-added engagement.
Innovative brands are challenging old business models
Over the last year, I spent time with leading CMOs and CDOs from some of the world’s most renowned brands. The result is a new research report, “Digital Experience Innovators: How Leading CMOs and CDOs are Modernizing Experiences and Brands for Digital-First Customers.”
They represent the challenger brands, those that are exploring the more human side of experience and branding through technology-driven personalization and real-time engagement. Each, in their own way, is investing in innovative technologies, customer data and new operational models to understand where, how and when to deliver value-added engagement.
Empowered with real-time customer insights, they embrace disruptive technologies—from AI and machine learning to best-in-class mobile platforms—to completely innovate dated and fragmented customer journeys; make brands more available, deliver more personalized customer experiences; and drive customer loyalty and business growth.
Modernizing experiences to such an extent requires a new approach to CX, marketing and leadership. Innovative brands are transforming conventional organizational models around customer data and experience, bringing together the disparate parts of the organization that touch the customer journey to share data, collaborate, and build capabilities to rapidly test and learn.
Research shows that challenger brands:
- Invest in collecting and interpreting real-time data to better understand their customers. They also deploy new technologies like AI and machine learning to quickly analyze and respond to it instantly and automatically.
- Engage with customers in more personalized ways. By delivering relevance and usefulness to customers in important “moments of truth,” brands become a valuable companion in their journey.
- Unite previously disparate and siloed functions in an effort to deliver a cohesive and seamless customer journey and CX that foster customer loyalty and become the standard by which customers judge all other experiences.
- Become “tech companies,” regardless of industry or whether it’s B2B or B2C. They embrace technological innovation as the basis of their operating and business models to deliver faster, intuitive and best-in-class customer experiences.
So, what makes a brand matter in today’s digital economy?
It’s a brand that connects with customers based on mutual value − deserving and exchanging importance, worth or usefulness. I think what’s most interesting in my research, is that it’s counter-intuitive in that these challenger brands are intentionally exclusionary. They’re not going after everyone. They’re specifically reaching out to desired customers because they understand not only who they are, but also what they value.
In a market where many brands are investing in digital to compete for attention at scale, real-time relevance is a significant competitive advantage. By focusing on personalization, experience and innovation as brand pillars, challenger brands are gaining more influence, delivering customer value and driving business growth beyond conventional strategies.