Regarding digital and every time something new emerges, either technological or not, we can’t avoid this question : “what should brands do ?”. Generally speaking digital is mainly seen as a challenge for brands.
The brand/enterprise divide causes a digital divide
Of course brands are impacted by digital but the response comes from enterprises.
Let’s call a spade a spade.
The brand is the way a business projects itself, creates an identity, a perception for the customer. The key words are identity, perception, experience and communication.
The enterprise is the machine working for the brand to exist and deliver. There are the people delivering the service, those who build the product, support functions etc.
On the one side the appearance, on the other the delivery.
Honestly I’ve already met and seen enterprises, they are tangible, but I’ve never met a brand. Brands are fictional. They are necessary, useful, essential to enterprises. But fictional.
The often-seen problem is that when a brand (and the people in charge) face a digital challenge they try to meet it with their tools and skills without onboarding the rest of the enterprise.
Brands are not off the ground
Brands are both the tractor and the projection of the enterprise.
The tractor because it’s where the enterprise meets the client. The reason for being of any enterprise is the client. So the brand should care about aligning internal resources, technological, human, in order that what happens internally is consistent with the promise made externally and able to deliver on it.
The projection because it reflects an identity and a culture. When the brand message is nt consistent with what the enterprise is, when the customer experience is not consistent with the employee experience, then there is a big problem.
Now that customer experience is queen it’s essential to understand that a brand is about posture and communication anymore but also about delivery and operations.
Brands are disconnected from the enterprise reality
However we are forced to admit that the relationships between brand “owners” and, just to mention a few, IT or HR and not that consistent. Generally speaking the brand speaks very little with those who make it tangible by delivering or supporting the production of products and services.
One of the main reasons why digital transformation fail in many businesses is that the brand jumped on the digital wagon head first without hooking the enterprise wagon and it’s easy to notice it. It’s as visible as the inside is what takes the most time to move so the latter it moved the bigger is the debt regarding the promise.
A brand does not transform, or as less as possible. The more perennial, the stronger. What’s transforming is the enterprise behind.
This Accenture study issued this summer nails it perfectly.
“Many legacy companies have responded by creating a forward- looking digital business strategy. The problem they often encounter, however, is that the weight of an old operating model is a drag on the new strategy. Their organizational structure, incentives, culture and capabilities have not changed enough to deliver on that strategy and realize value.”
That said, this should not be a concern for consumer brand owners only but also for employer brand owners where the gap between what the brand says and what the reality of working there is a major concern. But that’s another problem.