Brand value and what it means today is a topic that is causing much debate. Is brand value dying? Is brand value already dead? Do consumers even care about brands at all anymore?
Recent research from the Havas Meaningful Brand Report shows that most people would not care if 74% of all brands disappeared for good. This startling statistic is evidence that we are now living in an era where brand identity does not hold the value that it did. So what has changed?
Steve Jobs speaking in 1997 said, “To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”
Coming from the most ‘valuable’ brand in the world, these words may seem cheap. It is fair to say that Apple has now sailed past any brand marketers dream goal. Despite a lukewarm response from critics, the iPhone 7 had the strongest sales of a new iPhone in four years, driving the strongest week for Apple shares in five years and putting the company back on track for a return to revenue growth in the end of this year. Some could argue that people now feel so emotionally attached to the brand as a lifestyle that it does not matter what they release, it would still sell.
However not every brand can be Apple. In fact, as we have already established, 74% of brands are failing to echo their success, so brands must stop trying to make consumers fall in love with them.
Put the customer first
Consumers today are demanding. We live in a ‘right-now’ culture where people refuse to wait and want nothing less than instant gratification. The ever-connected consumer orders a taxi on their smartphone that arrives in less than five minutes, they order food on their smartphone on the way home to arrive when they get there, and then watch a film of their choice at the click of a button.
Tech companies like Uber, Deliveroo and Netflix are disrupting traditional ways of living with great success. These brands are not selling big emotional ideas; instead their selling point is the service that they provide to the customer. Big ideas in this new world, whilst not obsolete, are much harder to sell.
Brand value can still be important, but it must be targeted. It must be presented in a way that benefits the customer and gives them the instant gratification they need. Customer experience is now at the helm of branding.
Stand up and step out
New research shows that brands that stand for something grow twice as fast. The changing perception of brand value does not mean brands can no longer tell stories. On the contrary, consumers are now looking for brands that act on the stories they tell. Consumers want to be associated with brands that align to their own values. This can be as simple as a snack bar associated with healthy living or a charity initiative that shows a brand’s desire to give back.
The empowered consumer
As tech takes centre stage in consumer’s lives, the buyer-seller model has shifted in power. The consumer, once passive is now in control. Increased connectivity, only set to continue, means that consumers now have more choice than ever before.
In addition, the average attention span of consumers is increasingly dropping, now at just 8 seconds. A Media Dynamics study on ad exposure revealed that consumers see an average of 5000 advertisements and brand exposures per day. To succeed in this era, brands must streamline their processes and their communications so that they are concise and effective.
When everything is available in all places and at all times, it is harder for brands to serve and fulfil their customer’s needs. They must focus on new and innovative ways to help their customers and grow brand loyalty, rather than fixating on ‘brand value’ alone.
Put simply, brand value isn’t dead, it’s just changed. Brands need to work with the new empowered consumer in a newly competitive, increasingly digital landscape. Brands aren’t dead but the traditional meaning of the world brand value doesn’t mean what it used to.
‘Succeed in a brand new era’ was this year’s theme for Bynder’s annual OnBrand conference where speakers from brands such as Uber, LinkedIn, Twitter and HubSpot shared their stories on how to build a successful brand in the 21st century.