Archives for March 2021

23rd March 2021

The Concept of Digital Brands

A Q&A with Jesse Swash, Co-Founder.

Jesse Swash

Jesse Swash

What is a digital brand in 2021?
A digital brand is one that lives and primarily functions on every screen you own from your monitor to your iPhone and everything in-between. What would we do without alerts on our iWatch?

In reality, almost every brand is a ’digital’ brand. What is different is how digital a brand is. This is, or should be, driven by the needs and demand drivers of the core users and target audiences.

After all, we’re all digital now.

A digital brand, like any well thought through brand, has to be standout and distinctive for the right reasons. Digital or not, the brands that succeed and survive are those that are sure of their purpose, of why they exist.

Solve a problem and you will always succeed.

A truly digital brand looks and thinks about everything it does through a digital lens, embracing digital channels and methodologies to communicate with and engage with its target audiences.

Succeed by being digital-first.

The great digital brands are at the forefront of transforming how we work and live. Their offer, driven by better UX and well thought through service lines, spread through organisations rapidly, changing the way companies behave and operate.

Join in or be left behind.

What are the current innovations in digital brands?
The innovation is where these brands are seen and found, in new channels, with new ways of reaching consumers and prospects with new forms of content and messaging.

Being new now is what matters.

The leading digital brands are driving profound behaviour change. We work, collaborate, and live online. We may be at multiple locations, but we’re increasingly accustomed to working together in this way.

Change is one step at a time.

The real innovations are only just starting. There is a tsunami of AI, AR, and VR developments just around the corner, waiting for us to accept the next stage of virtual connecting and working. Hold tight it’s almost here.

With the impact of COVID-19, what trends have you seen in digital brands?
We have seen huge shifts in the willingness to engage with people we have only ever met on digital channels. The power of the handshake has been replaced by a smile on a video call. We have quickly let go of the need to meet people physically to work with them.

Technology and access to digital brands is now seen as more than a necessity. It’s increasingly a fundamental part of our lives, delivering the tools we need to get on with our job.

Digital is now a must-have, a human right.

In the first two months of lockdown, we believe we saw two years of change. Businesses and organisations adapted to the new blended digital and physical normal to survive. This trend will continue beyond this moment. Who wants to go back to the daily commute?

What are the benefits and challenges of having a digital brand?
Digital brands and services can transform experiences. Just think of something as simple as booking a restaurant via an app, all from the comfort of your sofa. This is the benefit of convenience, something everyone likes and wants and possibly demands and craves.

This is never going away.

The ease of use comes with the requirement to log in or supply data. The data in turn gives brands the ability to target their audiences with pinpoint accuracy. This is the ability to create markets and segments of one.

Making everyone feel like a VIP.

Digital brands also have the power of agility and responsiveness. Be in total charge and control. But open that door and the energy and pace required to sustain the communications and reach is a full-time task.

The best digital brands employ Jeff Bezos’ ‘Day 1’ strategy to stay ahead. They behave like a start-up even when they are years old. Because the side effect is that new isn’t new for very long anymore and the disruptors are being disrupted faster than ever.

When it comes to digital brands what is the best strategy?
Digital brands, like all brands, need to respond to pain points and challenges that need solving. The best solve a problem for a poorly serviced audience who can and want to be reached in a new and meaningful way. Find a problem, show you understand it and deliver the digital solution.

Many of the brands we speak to have grown so fast, they have lost touch with what their customers need. For digital brands being ruthlessly user-centric is key. Do this by following the data and constantly trying and testing things to see what works. In the world of digital brands, the data never lies so take all the insights and use them to give yourself a competitive edge.

Money is a precious resource, but time is more valuable. Brands need to be effective in where and when they invest their time to get their biggest return. As digital channels grow, all brands need to be strategic in where they deploy their effort.

How can organisations get the most out of being digital?
For organisations to get the most out of digital they need to be truly immersed. The senior leadership team needs to get behind the digital strategy and be seen to be truly living it.

The best organisations encourage adoption and don’t force it. If everyone comes to it open-minded it always has a better chance to succeed.

Finally, embrace the idea that digital is a continual journey to improvement. Understand that it never stops, be open-minded and it will always be a success.

9th March 2021

Technology Enables Innovation

Author: Olly Chubb, Strategy Director, Design by Structure

Technology enables innovation to happen – but it is not why innovation happens.

Thousands of businesses have the capability to ‘innovate’ – to create something new, or something better. What separates successful businesses is not whether they can do something, it’s whether they know why they are doing it. There is a huge distinction here, let’s look at that further.

The most successful businesses deliver more than linear, incremental improvements that make something better, faster or smoother. Instead, they harness a deep understanding of their customers, not just observing how they currently behave but revealing and understanding their pain points, interrogating what really matters to them and identifying new opportunities to create meaningful change for them.

These businesses can rethink the sector/customer problem, approaching it from a fresh and original perspective, reframing the context and transforming expectations of what ‘better’ means.

As the classic Henry Ford quote goes, “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. He could have bought the fastest horses, bred them to be even faster and become rich. He didn’t. Why? Because he understood that, although his customers might not have articulated it directly, the problem wasn’t just about speed – so the solution wasn’t just about being faster. Instead, he built a new mode of transport that exceeded expectations and transformed the landscape forever – and he became extremely rich!

In short, technology enables innovation, but the smartest innovations are driven by insight – and so too are the smartest businesses.

It can be easy to forget or overlook this, not least when businesses are running full speed to improve and when there seem to be more options for improvement than ever. The most ground-breaking innovations are not remembered because of the technology, they’re remembered because they transformed businesses, cultures and industries.

We need to think of technology and innovation as having a symbiotic relationship in business. Insight is the catalyst for this change. And by putting it at the heart of every decision and using it to constantly challenge and rationalise why they should do something, businesses can streamline activity, optimise resource and align every action through a clear purpose.

The interconnectivity of tech and innovation
Technology and innovation are interconnected they need each other to thrive, let’s look at some examples.

What’s the biggest frustration people experience with customer services? Feeling that they are not being understood or listened to. Having to go through the same conversation, the same complaint, over and over again because they’re speaking to a different agent. We all know this pain.

Dixa, is a SaaS business currently transforming the customer service experience by making it more personal, intelligent, and data-driven., it puts people at the core of its business and addresses this particular pain point – frustration.

Dixa could have used technology to reduce waiting times or increase accessibility. Instead, they looked at the problem differently and unlocked a fresh way to innovate in this industry. The service combines every customer interaction into one seamless conversation by unifying all contact points – phone, email, chat and messaging. Therefore, changing the landscape by removing the frustration of having to explain yourself again and again to different customer service agents.

It has used technology to create a seamless, ongoing dialogue that has transformed expectations of customer service forever.

Mews is another business blending insight and technological innovation to revolutionise the hospitality guest experience.

Rather than think about how to improve the traditional property management system that dominated the industry landscape, Mews decided to drive its innovation from a different angle – the human experience of both hoteliers and customers and asked what are their pain points?

By adopting a customer-first perspective, Mews developed customer-first tech that identifies how and where to simplify or automate hotel operations – from booking engine to check-out, front desk ritual to revenue management.

Small scale improvements would not have been enough to compel hoteliers to switch from the established incumbent – but a new way of thinking brought to life through technology, has created wholesale change and encouraged hoteliers and guests to imagine more.

What both these business example show, is where technology was used to deep dive into a real problem, to fulfil a gap in the sector where meaningful change could innovate to the benefit of the end-user – the customer. Both of these solutions tackle specific pain points, and instead of an easy fix, have come up with an idea that can shake a sector and really challenge sedentary thinking. That’s the beauty of tech, it can realise a business idea and elevate a sector with innovation.

A final word of caution, too often businesses create or adopt technology for technology’s sake. They realise they can, so they do, but they don’t stop to ask ‘why?’. They should. When you unlock ‘the why’, you unlock the insights.

It is the insight that unlocks innovation – and technology that makes good on the promise.

 

This article was first published in Global Banking and Finance Magazine.