DNA are a respected design agency – regarded as one of New Zealand’s best- and they have a blog: open.dna.co.nz, where their staff get to promote DNA under the guise of vaguely interesting posts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s quite common and you can get a good insight into what companies are thinking.
So my attention was drawn to this post: “Branding is Dead, Long Live the Brand“, and because it’s written by their strategy director, Martin Grant, it must be good, right?
Unfortunately not. Unless I’m reading this wrong, it completely contradicts itself. According to Martin, this is an example of wrong thinking:
“Customer experience is the interaction between a person and a business at any number of touchpoints. If you design and deliver customer experiences you are branding. So they are one and the same or another term for the same thing.”
According to his research, that was “completely wrong” and this is correct:
“So, customer experience is real observable interactions between the business and people, quantifiable, meaningful, impactful and business-like. Branding is a misnomer generally confused with logo design and advertising, controlling aesthetics, form and communication.”
What is the difference? I posted this question:
“I’m confused, you say that the idea that the “customer experience is the interaction between a person and a business at any number of touchpoints” is “completely wrong”, but then you say “customer experience is real observable interactions between the business and people, quantifiable, meaningful, impactful and business-like”.
What’s the difference?
Also, if senior executives don’t find marketers credible AND you still feel that there is an important message to impart upon them, then you have a ‘journey’ to take them on, to educate them, rather than just telling them.”
Martin replied with this:
“The bit that is wrong is that customer experience design and branding are seen as one and the same or even in the same space for an organisation’s CEO.
I’m not a defeatist, but marketers have been trying to have conversations with senior leaders for many moons around brand, branding and marketing – and it’s not working.
My advice is stop flogging the dead donkey and move on. Start talking up and taking perceived ownership of the customer experience, knowing that you’ll be really affecting brand perceptions. “
I’m seeing more and more design companies starting to position themselves as a key, if not primary, part of a client’s web strategy. I think that’s awesome – I’ve often felt that the design aspect of web development was subservient to the developers.
Having said that though, if designers think they can now be the new IT rockstars, then they’re about 10 years too late. These days, web development is just another business enabler, and you have to actually bring value to the client and their business – not just tell them that you’re awesome and you have all the answers.
So when Martin, in the same article, says this:
“75% of all CEOs believe marketers lack credibility and 77% feel that despite marketers talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters, top management has difficulties linking it back to results that really matter: revenues, sales and even market valuation”,
followed by this:
“Clearly there are big perception problems with brand and branding and people who undertake this in the mind of senior executives who allocate scarce resources in organisations”,
then for me, the answer is obvious. If you have an important message to impart upon these CEOs that you’re pitching to, then you have a ‘journey’ to take them on, to educate them rather than just telling them.
Rocket science huh? Bring value by demonstrating a deep understanding of your client and their business, and how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their business problems.