Schedule some think time

The brand experience I'm looking for has the zenlike calm of a first rate spa, the spare design sensibilities of Philippe Starck mixed with the aesthetic wit of Chip Kidd, and the price point of Target. If anyone comes across anything in this zone, call me.

The brand experience I’m looking for has the zenlike calm of a first rate spa, the spare design sensibilities of Philippe Starck mixed with the aesthetic wit of Chip Kidd, and the price point of Target. If anyone comes across anything in this zone, call me.

Okay, I’ll settle for just getting whatever you promised, and not having a snit-inducing experience. In this issue’s instalment of ‘The War Within’ series, intrepid reporter Terry Poulton had one when she tried to buy a sweater from the Bay. It was her fault of course, for foolishly missing the tiny disclaimer in the sales flyer, listing which stores actually carried the item in question. As columnist John Bradley points out this issue, at Ikea the fault of being out of stock is even attributed to the consumer for buying too many, by cleverly labelling their supply failings as ‘Temporarily Oversold’.

Since some of us, well, me anyway, hold fruitless-shopping-mission grudges through several retail seasons, savvy retailers like Grand & Toy and Sears have spent rather a lot of time and effort – and money – on logistics, to ensure that marketing and fulfilment work hand in glove.

Since it’s that time when we review the year that was, and prognosticate on what’s to come, I have a few goodwill and prosperity-related thoughts to throw out for resolution consideration. While tech advances are the focus of a lot of such ad-related punditry (we address that elsewhere – see Media on page 24 and What’s Next on page 33), there are old school issues that also need attention. Tech has sped up the pace of business – we can do everything more quickly – yet somehow, it’s chiseled away the time it takes to muse, ponder, consider and reflect on decisions. It’s that dilemma that puts the following two points on the top of our list.

Thing one. If you don’t have a brand experience officer at your company, good for you. This should not be the remit of one person. Stress kills. If however, no one in your company is charged with making sure the consumer is having a happy, shiny optimal experience with your brand, take it on as the mission of the marketing department to fill that void.

I know there are marketers out there who are still trying to convince the powers that be that there’s a difference between sales and marketing, so this may seem a tall order for the non-megacorps, but it’s key to take this POV and make it a shared, all-department mission.

Thing two. Do you have a chief innovation officer? If not, ditto as per Thing One. While Harley Davidson cake decoration kits and Everlast fragrance are the poster products of brand extension gone bad, look at Dove to see the upside. And that’s just one small piece of it. The quest for consumer-centric innovation spans everything from R&D and distribution to evolving the basic business model based on successful innovation elsewhere. So, whether it’s setting aside a half-day a week, or whatever scale permits, it’s worth investment – and also works best as a shared remit.

The wider perspective gleaned will not only help sort all the day-to-day decisions that crop up – ‘What are we doing about MobiTV?’ – but also help align the focus of internal departments and external partners. The folks we’ve talked to who have a sound strategy when it comes to emerging touchpoints have one thing in common. A clear grasp of what their brand embodies which then informs the ‘where,’ ‘how,’ ‘who with’ and ‘why’ of what’s next.

Thing One and Two apply equally to agencies. I personally think a Zig spa, a DDB comedy club or a Taxi bar might be in the zone of my ideal brand experience …except for the target price point. Heh.

P.S.

If you need a prod getting started, strategy is putting together a Brand Experience ‘tool kit’ day in March, geared to supplying the ammo you’ll need to get internal and external partners on side.

cheer,mm – Mary Maddever, Editorial Director