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Brand Management

Designing Brand Experiences People Love

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Everywhere there is revolution and disintegration. Wave after wave of technological innovation comes upon us more rapidly, engulfing us, confusing us more profoundly. Few marketing organizations have successfully navigated through the disruptive forces of globalization and commoditization.

There are two fundamental realities marketers face in this brave new world:

–       Ideas are now more valuable than process

–       Move up the value chain or be cast aside

Through all this creative destruction, in the form of our current economic reality, the dead wood is being cleared from the system, making way for more innovative players to take hold and prosper.

Many once beloved and dominant brands have surrendered their leadership position to scrappy startups who offer more. Amazingly, the rules of the game change in real time even as we all play along. Improvisation, once shunned by corporate organizations, is now considered an essential strategic business skill.

Yet, through all this disruption and confusion, it’s an exciting time full of opportunity for those big thinkers and dreamers who view it as such. If you’re a marketing executive charged with defining the perception of competitive advantage for your brands, the implications of this disruptive age are of significant importance to your future.

Creating relevant and differentiated value for people is less and less derived from the attributes of product features and benefits, and more from the quality of the experience customers have through their association and engagement with your brand.

Brands are not things they’re emotional experiences. Creating these experiences, and the use value they offer, is the result of an integrated creative process of design.

A Focused Fanaticism To Create Enormous Value

Design, in all its disciplines (product, process, environment and communication) is a strategic business imperative. For the entire enterprise to receive its benefit in the marketplace, design is the differentiator not a decorative act.

Design and the process of “design thinking” has added billions of dollars worth of market capitalization to those enterprises that understand its significant power and higher purpose to engage and delight customers in ways never before possible. In every leading company, design has become the soul of enterprise strategy.

You don’t have to look very far to see brands that apply this principle with phenomenal results–Apple, Nike, Starbucks, Google, Patagonia, BMW, Herman Miller, Target, Gillette, Virgin – every one of these enterprises are absolute fanatics about design and its importance to their business strategy.

Whatever the product or service enterprise, you’ll find design fanatics at the very top of leading organizations–fanatics who value design as the driver of competitive advantage.

Design leaders are not bound by the restrictions of the competitive plane (think cost and commoditization), when they are free to grow and expand by leveraging the love (think passion and devotion) customers have for their offerings.

Bake Your Marketing Into Big Dreams

The stakes are ever higher for marketers. Nothing is more destructive to success than clawing your way to the middle, to the common, to the good enough. It takes big, uncommon dreams to design beloved products, design beautiful environments and design rich customer experiences

The biggest dreamers of all are designers and design thinkers. It’s their inherent nature to dream. In many ways, marketers ought to think more like designers and dream the seeds of a bigger, brighter future regardless of the naysayer and quantitative non-believers. Dreams require imagination. Market leaders always have big dreams. Design lights their way forward.

The idea economy is especially kind to the dreamers who utilize the discipline of design as an inspiration force for manifesting much loved customer experiences into the real-life marketplace.

The functionality or usefulness of a thing is not enough to create devotion to it. The current battle in the smart phone category and the demise of the original category leader proves the point.

Nowadays everything “works”! Everything is good! It’s far better to place resources on designing excitement, surprise, delight, passion and uniqueness. Think about, and create beauty. Forget product and service attributes, instead, design experiences people love and share. Bake your marketing into your big dream.

Make your next product innovation an opportunity to design an experience that people can’t live without. Dream big. Never let the metrics of short-term demands weaken the resolve of a big dream still in the “goo” of creation. Creativity is a process not an event. There is no more room in the marketplace for me-too anything– dream dramatically different!

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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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