No element of the modern world is safe from disruption. New possibilities in how consumers behave and relate invite new business models that can threaten the very relevance of the most established brands. With that there is great temptation for brands to turn to technology as the primary means of innovating or transforming. And while technology is needed, it is only a means. Transformation is not a SKU sold and implemented by change managers. It is an emergent property of an evolved brand.
The world we live in runs on three things: Culture, code and creativity (David Shing gives a great talk on this from Cannes 2015). Brands that hope to transform need to be sure they are built with that in mind.
It Begins With Culture
Studies show just how much there is a crisis of credibility in the world. While trust in governments and media are at all-time lows, brands are one of the last institutions where some hope of credibility remains. When we think of great cultures like REI, Western Union, Patagonia and R/GA, we see deep care for the well-being and growth of the people that make up the brand – and this care starts at the top. And if your brand is not actively engaging and energizing your people in meaningful ways, then your brand does not have the culture necessary to reach its full potential.
Code Can Help Bring Culture To Life
Transformational brands are putting code to work to help improve or rewrite business processes and enhance customer experience. They no longer see systems of record, they see systems of intelligence. Amazon comes to mind because of its fanatical obsession with data and customer service. But also consider Amazon’s humble beginnings selling books: Rather than jump in and sell many categories, they resisted the temptation to diversify until they were certain they had the data model right for books. This allowed the brand to build a platform from which they could iterate into other categories.
Tesco, too, has put code to work to improve customer experience, and reinvent business process. Mike McNamara, Tesco’s CIO says, “In the past, we might have upgraded financial software every four to five years. Today, we’re doing a fairly major release …every week or two. The rate of change and the complexity of the environment make this a completely different world.” Tapping the cloud, Tesco has further empowered their IT staff to focus on how to apply the technology, rather than maintain extensive server farms, allowing them to more directly address the fast-changing needs of agile and connected customers. Even brands with classic brick and mortar beginnings can transform when they are rooted in a growth oriented culture that applies code to solve problems.
Most Importantly, Be Creative
Processes and platforms can scale easily. But time is the one commodity that remains fixed. In the attention economy, creativity wins. Transformational brands amplify culture and code in ways that attracts consumers’ attention. While advertising is an obvious means to bring creativity to life, there are other, less obvious ways transformational brands are applying creativity. Carnival Cruises announced its Ocean Medallion program earlier this year which promises to improve customer experience. By adding several thousand sensors to a ship, and giving guests wearable technology, Carnival will be able to collect and analyze customer behavior and preferences to surprise and delight guests in ways that eliminate friction.
Transformational brands reimagine their culture to inspire growth, innovation and invention by empowering and engaging their people. They make the culture exciting and attractive to the outside world. These brands use code to connect with consumers and they tie culture and code together in creative ways that delight customers and captivate their attention. Transform your brand with that in mind.
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