Five Steps to Future-Proof Your Brand

Five Steps to Future-Proof Your Brand

It is no secret that technology, and therefor the business world is advancing rapidly. With the advent of smartphones, apps, and new web languages, there is always an easier way to get something done. This is a brilliant article from, that outlines five steps to future-proof your brand.

Five Steps to Future-Proof Your Brand

Change is coming, are you ready?

Every business is undergoing a massive reinvention. In some ways, you might say that they’re rebranding. Those that may not have traditionally viewed themselves as “technology” companies are embracing emerging tech like AI to reach their customers more seamlessly and personally than ever before. To achieve this at scale, we as marketers have a huge opportunity to help lead the way.

With the proliferation of tools, data and ways of working, the journey can seem daunting. So, what can you as a marketer do to help your brand thrive in this new era? Here are five ways to future-proof your brand:

1. Find your big idea

One of the most critical questions a brand can ask itself is: “What is our big idea?” Why does your company matter? Who does it matter to? Oftentimes, the answer is within a company’s core values.

For IBM, it’s 108 years of bringing the next generation of technology and industry expertise to help our clients transform in every era, always with trust, security and responsible stewardship. From a creative perspective, that shows up in our icons and our campaigns. “Let’s put smart to work” is an invitation that shows our willingness to roll up our sleeves with our clients, bring the best of technology, the best of our people and the best of our culture to help them thrive, era after era.

That’s our big idea, our grand purpose, our north star, and why we’re one of the only tech companies to reinvent itself over and over again. 

2. Know the user as well as the buyer to serve her better

The foundation of marketing has shifted. Marketers and brands used to set expectations for consumers. Now, consumers set the expectations. They’re the ones in control.

Technology is in the hands of millions of end users, and buyers are being shaped by their personal experiences as consumers. To create relevant experiences, you must develop mechanisms to deeply understand the user.

We’re harnessing the power of billions of data points collected from every client interaction. Through the power of NPS feedback instrumented across all of our offerings, we can understand and physically see what users are saying they love and don’t love. More importantly, we can act on that feedback immediately and close the loop with our end users.

3. Understand and improve every dollar you spend

Marketing now has a well-earned seat at the table, but our success depends on proving that marketing matters, and that means running it like a business. Every marketer should be asking themselves three questions: 1. What is marketing’s contribution to revenue? 2. What is the return on every marketing dollar spent? And, most importantly, 3. Where is my next marketing dollar best spent?

To start, it’s important to establish a common data foundation and radical investment transparency across the organization–the whole organization, including finance and sales. Once you’ve established that common platform, you can start to integrate new tools to make marketers work smarter and drive improved business results.

As a CMO and as a marketer, this is where you can become a bit of a venture capitalist. Do you want to put more money into a campaign that is underperforming or one that is outperforming? Are your events adding value or would your dollars be best spent elsewhere? Ask the right questions, test and then consult the data to make changes and optimize. 

4. Create an open, agile culture where people can do their best work

One of IBM’s greatest brand stewards, Jon Iwata, once said that “culture moves in a linear way, technology moves exponentially.” It’s true that the latest, most innovative solutions can oftentimes be the hardest to measure, predict and put into market.

That, however, is not a company’s greatest challenge. The challenge becomes establishing and maintaining a culture that’s prepared to tackle these challenges in an open, collaborative, cross-functional way. Teams must fundamentally break down the siloes in which they’ve operated in favor of becoming agile to the core, learning quickly from every failure and success.

For us, that has meant educating all marketers on agile values and principles, investing in world-class spaces for teams to work together, identifying agile coaches to globally support over 200 agile marketing teams in their mission and continuously learning what’s working and not working through an Agile Health Radar. This particular mission is both the hardest and the most gratifying. It’s a journey without a destination. It’s always being better tomorrow.

5. Embrace the technologies that will shape our profession

I believe that AI will change the way marketers work in three ways:

1. Changing what we know: Gone are the days of qualitative focus groups behind closed doors. Now, with AI, we can understand so much more about our customers, at scale. One way we can achieve this is through Watson Tone Analyzer. The tool allows marketers to analyze emotion and tone of what consumers write online in tweets or reviews, for example. This becomes especially important in an online chat experience, enabling better monitoring of customer support conversations to determine if a customer is satisfied or frustrated and if agents are polite and sympathetic. With these insights, you can build more effective dialog strategies to adjust the conversations accordingly.

2. Changing how we interact: We have a huge opportunity to say farewell to static, broadcast digital ads. More and more consumers are looking for ways to have 1:1 engagement with their favorite brands. Watson Ads Builder is one way that marketers can quickly get started. Through natural language generation and industry learnings, it empowers marketers, developers and agencies to seamlessly build relevant conversational experiences that can be deployed across touchpoints. And just imagine the rich data you get back when consumers start interacting with your “ads” and telling you what they really want.

3. Changing how we work: While taking action based on relevant data is critical, we are getting better at being able to predict effectiveness before it happens. We just released AI alerts for all of our marketers, using IBM Watson. As a marketer works, they can be notified when the AI-powered marketing platform identifies a potential weakness in their campaign and provides a couple of recommended actions they could take to optimize the effectiveness of the campaign, all in real time. It’s critical for marketers to interact with those alerts, as the platform learns over time. AI will augment the marketing professional to help us do our best work.

Invest in you

I’d close by just emphasizing the importance of investing in yourself as a lifelong learner. Companies and communities are increasingly focused on reskilling their current workforce and preparing the workforce of the future with the right skills to succeed in this new world. IBM is one of those companies.

For marketers, specifically, IBM Watson Advertising, in collaboration with Adweek, is thrilled to be launching a free, immersive six-month professional development program comprised of online courses, evergreen content and peer-to-peer learning designed to empower marketers with the skills to advance in a disruptive marketplace. Visit The Institute for Brand Marketing now.

Source: Adweek

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