We are living in astonishing times. We find ourselves in the midst of a perfect storm of new technologies. Trends that have been decades in the making are reaching their full potential. The opportunities for value creation, and value destruction, have never been greater.
Many brand managers are happy to talk about disruption. Talk, as the saying goes, is cheap; too often, actions fail to keep pace with good intentions. Until more brand managers embrace the transformational opportunities of mobile, social and the emerging Internet of things, the future will remain un-evenly distributed.
Why is this? In our view, it's not because managers are naive, it's because this particular shift is so unprecedented, and so all encompassing, that many people, and organizations, are under-estimating the size of the opportunity and urgency with which they need to act.
Peter Thiel has talked a lot about the danger of reasoning by analogy in exponential times, and I agree with him. The worst mistake a company can make is to assume that the current period of disruption is cyclical; to move slowly and cautiously, in the hope that things will settle down again. Basing future decisions on past experiences feels like the safe thing to do, but when those experiences simply don't apply, it's downright dangerous.
When we really think about it, it's obvious that the Internet, in all it's incarnations, is not cyclical, but exponential, transformational and relentless. If you are a taxi medallion owner in New York City right now, you probably have a very clear understanding of just how transformational and relentless it really is.
When I hear people express reluctance about moving quickly and decisively to experiment with social, mobile and related technologies, I’m always shocked.
- I’m shocked because the Internet, powered by search and social, has already remade the face of many industries, and it's not about to slow down, or stop.
- I’m shocked because social technology has already created hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe trillions of dollars in value almost overnight.
- I’m shocked because the cost of experimenting with social, mobile and with the Internet of things is very low, while the cost of NOT experimenting will be so incredibly high for those who are left behind.
So what should a brand manager do? How do we get to grips with something so vast and all encompassing? How do we wrestle this particular alligator to the ground?
We recommend starting with these questions:
- Have I re-examined my brand lately? Is it a brand that can thrive in a fundamentally altered customer acquisition and retention landscape?
- Is my brand being managed as just a messaging platform, or is it a true customer experience design platform that gives me a strategic framework for integrating new technologies into my existing marketing, CRM and product / service delivery?
- Am I investing in R&D specifically for my brand? Is there a budget to explore new ways of developing and sustaining customer relationships? Is there enough fresh thinking in the mix? Do I have the right mix of internal talent and external expertise? Are my R&D initiatives well aligned to my business objectives? Are my budgets "cross-departmental" or mired in unhelpful silos?
Fabric Branding helps companies answer these questions, and act on them. We help companies transform their approaches to customer acquisition and retention for this new era. We'd love to hear from you and talk about how your business can benefit from fresh perspectives, and new initiatives. You can get in touch here. We'd love to hear from you.