A New Age Calls For A New Way To Brand – Introducing Forrester’s Intelligent Branding

Dipanjan Chatterjee

The traditional paradigm of brand management has been upended by intelligent branding — a customer-centric, emotions-driven approach anchored in the neuroscience of how people form brand impressions. The full report is available for Forrester clients: The Rise Of Intelligent Branding    

Why now?

Because the idea of traditional brand management is well past its prime and reflects neither the customer-obsession that characterizes today’s best brands nor the significant advances in our understanding of decision making:

  • Brand is not a monolith to be managed like a product or service; it is an idea, a perception. And there are as many perceptions of a brand as there are minds that have interacted with it. Branding is about consumer and customer obsession, not about products, services, and communications. 
  • Brand is not rational. Traditional marketing has always assumed a rational consumer (homo economicus). However, a considerable body of work (including Forrester’s own ongoing research), has shown the primacy of emotions and the subconscious in decision making. Traditional brand management has not caught up.
  • Brand is hard to measure. Traditional qualitative and quantitative brand measurement can be unpredictable because recall is fraught with error and highly prone to suggestion. Respondents struggle with “why” questions since they can’t access their subconscious which drives decision making.
Read more

This Brand Is Your Brand, This Brand Is My Brand

Dipanjan Chatterjee

In my role as adviser to marketing leaders, I am often met with the question: “How do I figure out if it is better to invest in brand or to invest in something else?” To which I often respond with a perplexed, “Is there anything else?”

Brand is what keeps the lights on in my home and the bar stocked with Bourbon, so you will excuse my brazen partiality. But hear me out. Companies take products and services to market and create experiences for prospects and customers – these are “things” that they manage. Brand is an all-encompassing perception that holistically reflects how these “things” are viewed. When the organizational gods draw their charts, they more often than not drop brand in the domain of marketing. Indeed, there is an umbilical relationship between brand and marketing, but it would be entirely erroneous to view brand as circumscribed by marketing. Anything and anyone that shapes brand perception drives brand.

The brand does not belong to the CMO alone. It belongs to all, from the CEO on-high, to the front-line brand ambassadors. It runs from the fountainhead of marketing through every part of the business, from ritzy show rooms, through distribution warehouses, to IT data centers. If you listen hard, you may hear a Woody Guthrie variant reverberate off cubicle walls: "This brand was made for you and me." This is the anthem for modern marketing.

Read more

Facebook Knows Your Emotions, So What?

James McQuivey

A minor ruckus ensued this week when major media reported that Facebook knows how its users feel. It appears that some believe that the world is therefore coming to a nefarious end. As in, "Lions, and tigers, and emotions, Oh my!"

The specific incident involved an analysis that some of Facebook's team undertook in Australia, the results of which were shared in a private conversation with a potential advertiser down under. The reaction of the major media and many voices online was to immediately panic. The objections were straightforward: a) Facebook is snooping into people's lives and learning things it ought not (in this case, insecure teenagers, which seems all the more troublesome), b) Facebook wants to sell this ill-gotten knowledge to advertisers, and c) Facebook and advertisers are in colusion to commit some kind of terrible maniuplation of humanity.

Read more

The Power of Best Practices and Next Practices

Victor Milligan

Most companies have accepted the new market reality: customers are in charge, having digital chops is table stakes, and disruption is becoming normal. 

Although most companies have accepted this reality, they also admit that they are not prepared for it. In our Customer Obsessed Assessment, 62% of companies identified as being behind the power curve addressing current customer demands and an additional 25% are slightly behind where they want to be.

The results are not terribly shocking; there’s a lot of work to do. But it doesn’t make it any less scary once you realize we’re in the early stages of change.

The large-scale market response is still playing out - and the cycle of far-reaching (and sometimes painful) change will be playing out for many years to come. Arguably the large-scale market response is still to come. For example:

  • We have seen early examples of digital disruption in select industries, but have not seen the impact of digital platforms fronted by virtual agents creating havoc for brands to retain or improve their relationship with customers. 
  • We have not seen the impact of industrial platforms reshaping manufacturing processes and unleashing the power of data to the strategic advantage to some – and to the strategic threat to others. 
  • We have not seen the global market impact if CMOs shift major chunks of budget to digital experiences and away from advertising, squeezing the agency market.
Read more

The End of Advertising, The Beginning of Relationships

James McQuivey

Today my colleagues and I publish a bombshell of a report. Titled, "The End of Advertising As We Know It," the report at first glance fits nicely into the current backlash against major publishers and ad networks, including Google and Facebook. Led by P&G Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, major advertisers like GE and JP Morgan Chase have been reexamining their digital display advertising spend and threatening to cut significant dollars out as they pressure companies like Google and Facebook to provide more transparency and ultimately more standardization into their ad reporting. It all adds up, as we show in an infographic excerpted here, to what feels like a revolt.

All of this is good, necessary, and moving in the right direction for the health of the digital advertising economy. You have to have confidence in what you're buying and right now advertisers don't, for very good reasons. But that is not why we're declaring 2017 the year in which advertising as we know it comes to an end. Something bigger than that is happening. Or should be, if it's not, and that's why we wrote the report. What are we trying to make happen? It's less about the mechanics of advertising and more about a shift consumers are about to go through. Put simply, the end of advertising is coming because interruptions are coming to an end. As I say in the report:

Read more

Alphabet's Earnings Emphasize A Skewed Value On Monopolies

Shar VanBoskirk

I was speaking with my colleague Fatemeh Khatibloo about the strong Q1 2017 earnings that Alphabet just announced this week (I mean Alphabet the parent company of Google here, not the soup or anything to do with Letter People).  Alphabet revenues are up 29%, due largely to growth in mobile search and video ad sales. And she made a profound observation: that today the success mindset isn't about thriving in a market with a set of worthy competitors.  It is about domination so extreme that you and you alone dictate market trends and there simply is no platform for innovative upstarts.

James Wang of ARK Funding Administration agrees.  He says, Alphabet's Q1 earnings underscore "a macro theme we are seeing in the internet space, which is that the bigger players are getting bigger and the smaller players are treading water or shrinking."

I don't like this.  I don't like this one bit because I'm always a fan of the underdog.  But also because it seems way too risky to tie so much market health to a small number of firms.  And because it creates a socialogical mis-perception of how much is enough.  I'll let you economists out there weigh in here; I'm interested.

And I will simply say that I don't expect Alphabet's advertising growth to continue in a similar habit because:

Read more

Alexa Will See You Now: Why Echo Has A Camera

James McQuivey

Today Amazon announced the latest addition to its Amazon Echo line of Alexa-enabled devices. The Echo Look is the first Echo device to include a camera. It will not be the last. Adding a camera is the smartest next move for Amazon even though it will trigger an "ick" response by people nervous about Amazon looking into their homes. First, the details.

Echo Look is being positioned as an Alexa device that can also take your picture or capture video hands free. By playing on a double meaning of the word "look" the company baits a nice marketing hook because it then goes on to emphasize that by looking at you, the device can help you "love your look." How? By fulfilling a portion of the long-hoped-for magic mirror concept I first wrote about in 2011. The magic mirror would look at you and help you make yourself over. While many companies like L'Oreal and Rimmel have adapted this concept for use in a mobile phone makeup app, nobody has yet gone for the full-body closet assistant we described in 2011. (Actually, there are several of these available in upscale dressing rooms, but none available for in-home use.)

Read more

Nature or Nurture? Culture As A Cornerstone Of Global Branding

Dipanjan Chatterjee

The Earl of Greystoke would have grown up in an idyllic English manor, sipping tea and munching on clotted cream biscuits, were it not for a rather unfortunate turn of events that left him orphaned in equatorial Africa, being raised by a she-ape. At the heart of Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of Tarzan, which have captivated audiences for over 100 years, lies an elemental question: what makes us who we are – nature or nurture?

In my last blog post (Marketing's Dirty Little Secret), I discussed the biology of behavior and how we are wired to ride the express-lane for decision making. This is an area of investigation that is gathered much steam, including work done by Forrester (see How People Choose by Shar VanBoskirk). This interest in consumer neuroscience has led us to another intriguing area of inquiry: How do we account for cultural context in the biology of behavior? How does nurture shape the biological nature of our decision making?

Read more

Go Ask Oprah: The 'O' Comes to Alexa

James McQuivey

Hearst magazines announced last week that Amazon Alexa users could invite Oprah -- or at least her voice -- into their homes. Fans of the media personality, which includes just about everyone, can ask Alexa to play a quote recorded by Oprah from her 2014 book What I Know For Sure. A different quote will play each day. Other than the fact that the whole thing promotes the book, there are no other sponsors yet. Though that can easily change, see my post on the rise of ads on voice interfaces a few weeks ago. Hearst and Amazon not are exchanging money in the deal, though honestly you could make an argument for both sides to believe the other should pony up some earnest money. After all, this is Oprah. And it's Amazon. When two big brands collide, you never know which one has the most leverage. Evidently they've decided to postpone resolving that question.

For now there is no intelligence applied to the process and that is the big missing piece. There are about 90 quotes that Oprah has recorded, a different one will play each day. The real potential here is when the Oprah skill adds a bare minimum of artificial intelligence. Imagine coming home and asking Oprah for words of wisdom based on your needs in the moment. "Alexa, ask Oprah for help with raising my teenager," or "Alexa, ask Oprah how to reignite my love life," or "Alexa, ask Oprah what special gift I should get my sister for her birthday."

Read more

Martech That Matters (For Marketers Who Actually Use It)

Carlton Doty

Sick of scouring sector landscapes with thousands of vendor logos organized into loosely defined categories?  I mean, do you really need to know the names of 150 programmatic display advertising vendors out there? What’s the total Martech ecosystem going to tally this year – 7000+ vendors? Actually, yes. Yes it is. As my colleague Joe Stanhope said in his work on the convergence of Martech and Adtech – it’s hard to remember a time when there was such an unhealthy and unsustainable technology ecosystem.

At Forrester, we’ve covered marketing technology and the now overused term – “left-brained marketing” - for nearly fifteen years.  We've come a long way as an industry since then, and today Forrester's marketing clients now enjoy step-by-step playbooks like the Enterprise Marketing Technology Playbook, and the Lead-To-Revenue Management Playbook that help them get more out of their technology investments. This is becoming more important every day. Why? Because marketing technology now commands one-fifth of overall marketing budgets for B2C marketers. That’s already a sizable chunk, and we expect it to climb quickly because 41% of these marketers tell us that they still lack the technology they need to grow their business.

Read more