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Co-Creation

Customer Co-Creation For Higher Brand Value

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Customer Co-Creation

Microsoft had a tough year in 2012. According to Millward Brown’s BrandZ™ ranking of the 100 most valuable global brands, the company saw their brand value drop 9% between May 2012 and 2013. It appears that Microsoft changed too much, too soon when they launched their new operating system, Windows 8. And with that they alienated a large number of potential users.

By relying on their own vision of what would work they created a brand experience that was, by most accounts, pretty awful. And with that came the penalty of diminished brand value.

Fast forward to May 2014. Microsoft’s doing much better. In fact, Millward Brown’s BrandZ™ ranking shows Microsoft has gained 29% in brand value, jumping three places to the #4 position on the list.

To be sure, Microsoft is riding the strength of a rebounding economy and a faithful following of their core Office software, but they’re also doing a lot of things right. The company’s cloud-based Office 365 has produced solid gains over the past year. And Microsoft’s mobile OS design has everyday users praising the Window Phone 8.1’s easy-to-use interface.

So what’s behind the change to more user-friendly design and, by connection, enhanced brand value? In part, it’s the company’s new-found reliance on customer co-creation workshops.

Natasha Hritzuk, Microsoft’s Global Director of Consumer Insights, talks openly about the success they have had with customer co-creation workshops in a series of well-publicized online video posts.  “It’s about rolling up our sleeves”, she says, “and spending time with our consumers and really trying to understand what we can do together to address their lives better.”

Andy Hart, Microsoft’s Vice President for advertising in Europe adds “It’s about stepping through the two way mirror of the research lab to have an honest, face-to-face conversation with our customers.”

They both conclude that the co-creation process has given Microsoft the ability to “unlock magic.”

Co-creation is not about making products better. Co-creation is about making the experience of using products better. That’s where the magic takes place. 

In its simplest form co-creation is about companies and customers coming together as equal partners to create “new ways” and better experiences. These better experiences can be monumental shifts or incremental improvements, but with all there is a common thread, and that’s the ability to create something meaningful for all involved. The brand becomes more relevant while the customer becomes more connected.

Co-creation is a smart move for marketers looking to gain insight into how to better position their brand or improve their brand experience. By involving stakeholders and customers at the beginning of the process trust and empathy is quickly created. And with that comes speed and agility. You simply get to a smarter position quicker when all the important players are part of the design right from the start.

The Blake Project Can Help: Brand Strategy and Customer Co-Creation Workshops

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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