What do we really want from brands? The answer to this question has changed with the development of the internet. We’ve become accustomed to finding what we want quickly, having our queries responded to in real-time, the overnight delivery of our purchases, and the benefits of personalisation. At the same time, however, we’re also feeling a little swamped by the information, messages, feeds, and adverts that compete for our time.
All businesses have been told they need to keep up with the "new stuff." They need to harness new technologies, new channels and new platforms to improve the experiences they provide. So, they continue adding bright and shiny new things to their existing services and experiences, much like a teenager adds go-faster stripes to a car when they should really be booking it in for an MOT.
The fact is that adding new, shiny things can actually hinder not help the customer experience. It can create cognitive dissonance, with customers wondering "how can they do this while they’re still rubbish at that?" The consumer is in charge, and is peering through the cracks with a knowing sneer.
Only once the experience "MOT" has taken place can you truly start to think about where things can be improved and what’s in need of innovation or enhancement. But once that’s been established, where do you begin?
It’s a good question. Businesses too often start with the new and shiny—a new piece of technology, a new platform or a new toy. There’s always hope that somehow the answer will lie within the latest innovation: that the experience can be magically improved by throwing in a slice of AI or VR, or whatever the next big thing is when you read this.
This isn’t the case. The starting point for anything new has to be driven by an insight into that most valuable of commodities: the customer. Will they like this new technology? Will they believe you’re adopting it to really make a difference, or will they just find it just intrusive? Are you putting your customers first and then thinking about how technology can enhance their experience with your brand?
Companies have spent years building value in their brands. Some have done this very consciously, some maybe less consciously, but whatever approach they’ve used, the lens of the brand is as critical for innovation as it is for any aspect of marketing.
Once you’ve conducted this analysis—your experience MOT—and found the value in your brand, you’ll be ready to add the magic. And this magic comes from creativity: putting insight, brand value and technology into the blender and creating new inspiring things. These innovations should be something customers really want. They should surprise and delight them and raise their expectations so they want to spend more time and money with that company.
Finally, the era of public failure in innovation is changing as businesses and brands realise their customers expect more than the flexibility previously given to the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon. The public iteration of a new product or service, in the past seen as a necessary piece of the development cycle, can seriously slow down your quest to deliver the most innovative and amazing experience. To counter this, you must be able to test your new, exciting ventures quickly and cost effectively, via prototyping and closed testing. If you can master this, the sky is the limit.