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Marketing Matters

Brand Transformation In A Time Of Change

Change can be difficult, but for companies it’s something they absolutely must do. Technology has drastically altered consumers’ behaviors, patterns and lifestyles, and regardless of their specific business, companies are finding they have to swim with the tide. During a panel at All That Matters in Singapore this week, business experts discussed how companies large and small are dealing with transforming their brands both internally and externally to keep up with the pace.

 

According to research done by OgilvyRED, 90% of companies in the Asia Pacific region say they are somewhere on the journey of transforming their brands and businesses. One of the main reasons these companies are going through transformations, according to Lucy McCabe, President of OgilvyRED Asia Pacific, is fear. “We’re going through a period of economic slowdown,” McCabe says. “In every single category, there are new business models disrupting your category. Growth is incredibly hard to find now.”

That fear can lead many companies, especially big ones, to reject urges to change. Some folks believe that a strong brand or company shouldn’t risk upsetting the status quo—why would they if what they have done and currently are has resulted in the strong brand of today? Juliana Chu, APAC Director of Digital Marketing analytics for Kimberly Clark, says that a brand promise should not change. Rather, the execution of that promise is where a company must innovate.

Big companies and small companies should think differently when it comes to transforming their brands. First, though, investment is key for all companies. “You don’t grow through cost savings,” McCabe said. “You only grow through your consumers and customers, through finding new audiences and bringing new value to your customers.” McCabe mentioned that Nestle, a 75-year old company looking for new ways to grow, has made investments in food delivery services and other new ventures. While bigger companies may be able to scale, they often move slower than their younger, more nimble counterparts.

“Disrupters are very good at innovating and failing fast and have a mentality that ‘we’ll give it a go’”—something that McCabe believes more big companies can benefit from. “One of the strongest pieces of advice,” McCabe said, “I can give traditional brands is to look for fast pilots where you can get it out into the market and have a proof of concept, because that then gives you all the data you need to convince stakeholders to move forward with that particular innovation. Brands that adopt that fast pilot model are generally more successful at starting to move the organizational mindset towards more continuous innovation.”

But not every innovation initiative is the right move. McCabe knows of three clients who have opened innovation units in Silicon Valley. It sounds like a great idea but often has resulted in the brands chasing new shiny tech toys without a clear business objective, “trying to find a problem to solve,” McCabe said. It’s important to keep the consumer first, and then try and innovate around the real problems that your company needs to solve, whether that’s internally or something to make your customers’ experience better.

Thinking of the customer first will help a company stay on track and innovate and change how and when they need to. Spencer Lee, Head of Commercial for AirAsia Berhad summed it up succinctly.

“Don’t change because of change. Change because you need to innovate to stay relevant.”

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