Brands & digital Media: interview


Brands & Digital Media in the 21. Century

BRANDGUARDIAN discussed decentralized marketing, agile branding and the role of analog and digital brand experiences with book authors and experts, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Dänzler and Prof. Dr. Thomas Heun.

Dr. Stefanie Dänzler teaches at numerous German and US universities. Previously, she worked for 17 years for well-known companies (Jung von Matt AG, McCann Erickson, Pixelpark AG and Studio Hamburg GmbH), the last six years of which as Managing Director. Prof. Dr. Thomas Heun is Professor for Marketing & Methods at the international Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. He researches and publishes on the topics of brand & digitalization and customer experience management.

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Dänzler, together with Prof. Dr. Thomas Heun and various experts, describes the transformation of the brand concept in the 21st century in her current reference book

You write that consumers do not separate the analog and digital brand experience. In digital, marketers can react almost immediately to current trends or topics. Don't brands then also have to speed up analog brand communication so as not to create a perception gap? 

Prof. Dr. S. Dänzler: Brands must increasingly address the customer journey and provide consumers with a consistent brand experience. The digital must be enriched by appropriate analog communication. An example: A manufacturer launches an innovative new camera and advertises a new, simple lifestyle. Just hold it up, and the camera will do the rest. But if the camera is then packaged in a complicated way and comes with a poorly produced 160-page manual in six languages, then there is a break in the brand experience. The perception at the POS, the packaging, supporting collaterals or brochures: all this is still part of the brand experience and should not be underestimated. The analog, physical experience at the POS or in contact with the product is incredibly important for the emotion of the brand. 

Prof. Dr. Th. Heun: Digital and analog must mesh. Accordingly, there are different functions of digital and analog touchpoints along the customer journey. Aligning these with each other is one of the core tasks of brand experience management. "Speed" tends to be reserved for the digital touchpoints, and if the tasks and messages of the different touchpoints are well coordinated and digital is not wildly conveying this today, that tomorrow, there should be no perception gap. 

Some studies see a trend towards decentralized marketing. How important is it to support decentralization with solutions for the regionally correct adaptation of communication for POS, print and digital?

Prof. Dr. Th. Heun: The ideal of centralized control has become a bit obsolete with the end of the Integrated Communication paradigm and the possibilities of digitalization. If you perceive brand as something that has a positioning and stands for defined values, but is also prepared to offer customers the best possible solution wherever, decentralization is a necessary consequence of this development.

Prof. Dr. S. Dänzler: Logistically, it can be a great advantage to decentralize brand management. You become faster and can respond more specifically to regional or individual customer needs on site. A personal greeting alone has a very positive effect. The most important thing, however, is the measurability of the measures. Just decentralizing because you feel it's better doesn't cut it. The bottom line is agile branding, short project cycles. Brands need to try new things through trial and error, and have agile processes to quickly check successes at headquarters. This agile system must be open to feedback and innovation. Efficient mechanics and processes are now more important than creativity, which you spread top-down and uniformly into the market. This requires good tools to manage and evaluate the processes. Ultimately, COVID also demonstrated the importance of agility. Change is becoming more and more fast-paced, so all processes around the brand and communication need to be more agilely adaptable. 

How far has the triumph of mobile, web and social media progressed? What role do print and the PDF container format still play in brand communication?

Prof. Dr. S. Dänzler: All media and channels still have their place. That's what makes it so difficult for brands. It is becoming increasingly complex to serve all media. That's why we have to analyze exactly: Who am I as a brand, who is my target group and what is the customer journey like? For example, some brands have more silver agers as a target group or offer B2B products that require explanation. Here, print or detailed information in PDF format is more important than for simple consumer goods. But as I mentioned, the brand experience doesn't just include a fancy advertising clip or a cool influencer using the product, but ultimately also the feeling of being able to unpack the product and use it well and easily..

Thank you for the interview!

Agile Branding

The central idea of "agile branding" is based on the principle of a build, test, and learn cycle that operates according to the principle of "act instead of plan". In contrast to traditional marketing, strategy and its project plans play a subordinate role in agile branding. The goal is to keep each process loop as short as possible in terms of time so that the assumptions and ideas developed can be validated as quickly as possible by the data or surveys generated and adjusted in the next iteration stage.

BUILD: In this phase, the goal is to come up with a minimally functional product or communication idea in order to get the intended learning process started as quickly as possible and to go through the test and learn feedback loop.

TEST: Here it is important not only to use the team and its ideas as an evaluation, but always to focus on the question of the benefit of the idea and to test this in the most appropriate way.

LEARN: What counts is not whether the project is on schedule or on budget, but whether the quality requirements keep improving. The decisive factor is whether the quality of the project or idea is right. The most difficult decision here is to immediately make a course correction when necessary and not just stick to the goal.

machine translation (DeepL free version)