The New Agenda for brands: how can brands excel in the post-digital landscape?

The New Agenda for brands

Digital has happened – hence post-digital. However, in terms of devices and connectivity, digital’s impact on customers is still working through and creating profound implications for brands. We’ve set out a seven-step agenda for brands that want to excel in the post-digital landscape.

Start from the truth that customers create the value in brands

That has always been the case, but digital has made this truth truer. The imperative is to understand what matters to customers, post-digital, and to be clear about what the brand can deliver that customers value. Bear in mind that the post-digital model is very simple: the more value customers perceive in the brand, the more value they will deliver to the brand.

Considering ‘trust’ and ‘fair exchange’ will help your brand excel

Spend time working with customers, to properly explore what ‘trust’ and ‘fair exchange’ mean for your brand. That is vital foundation work and can’t be delegated (though it can be facilitated), and it is critical for the senior leadership team to be engaged. Make sure that where you end up has real substance, real integrity and real teeth, rather than being some kind of PR snow-job. Communicate to customers what you’re trying to do and why: before you do it, whilst you’re doing it, and after you’ve done it.

Prioritise ‘simplicity’ and ‘ease’ in the post-digital landscape

Reduce the effort for customers in dealing with your brand. Co-opt customers to help simplify processes and to address their pain points. Make the process wholly transparent: open up the brand and invite customers in. Again, communicate to customers what you’re trying to do and why.

Worry about what happens when things go wrong

Prioritise getting the complaints-handling aspects of customer service right and invest where it’s needed. Focus on understanding and tackling the causes of dissatisfaction, and chase down disgruntled customers to hear their horror stories. Engage, then empower front-line customer-facing staff. Leverage the ideas and know-how of your tech engineers.

Build an adult-to-adult relationship with customers

Have an open dialogue: be upfront about what you’re trying to do and why. Brands like Monzo and Bulb have developed a tone of voice to talk to customers honestly and simply, without patronising them.

Re-do your segmentation

Given the speed at which things are changing, it may be out of date anyway. But even if it’s not, if your segmentation can’t differentiate between customers on the basis of their digital engagement, then it doesn’t give you what you need. Post-digital, any brand serious about getting it right on fundamentals such as loyalty, satisfaction, personalisation or minimising effort, first has to segment how customers engage with digital. (And, yes, we do have a vested interest in saying this because, uniquely, that’s what our New Masters classification system enables brands to do.)

Change the brand mindset

Look in the mirror and be honest about the brand’s bad habits. Stop abusing customer loyalty and rewarding promiscuity. (Please don’t think customers don’t notice this, just because they don’t mention it much or haven’t gone anywhere else. Yet.) Enshrine ‘loyalty’ as a core brand KPI: it’s your truest test of ‘trust’ and ‘fair exchange’ in action.

Succeeding with post-digital customers requires brands to change: to think, act and be different. The good news, and a big thing for brands to hold on to, is that whilst digital changes the surface of things profoundly, the deep, underlying customer truths have not changed. The surface may be transient, but never the substance: ultimately, customers value and want the same things as they always have.

The key, as ever, is to understand and prioritise what matters to customers.