4-D Branded Networks
In today’s digitally driven landscape the Internet has shifted the balance of how brands perform and gain commercial success. The Internet has disrupted the journey and time it takes to bring a product to market and social media has dramatically reduced the time it takes for a brand to gain dominance. So if brands can launch themselves overnight how do you create a brand that lasts and resonates with consumers?
There is a change in the way that brands are operating – no longer can a brand be simply about a distinctive product. Brands must build up a strong defence to protect and weather the competitive storm. It seems that a brands armour lies in the intensity and two-way conversation between consumer and brand. 4-D branding, lifestyle concepts beyond product, heralds a new era where brands are built on an emotional devotion from a brand ‘hub’ of loyal fans.
Traditionally brands are built around a product with distribution following but today creating a devoted network of followers is key to secure success. This change in mindset is uncovering interesting trends in the market from edited brand simplicity, renewed interest in craft, tactile localised concepts, interactive product playgrounds, lifestyle hubs and digital personalisation.
These trends talk to consumers who search for a more intimate, personal relationship with brands built on honesty and generosity of spirit. Inspiration from the hospitality industry is hardly surprising when customer expect every brand to offer a concierge that meets their daily needs.
This renewed focus on network also explains the rise in the collaboration strategy – brands join forces to capture new audiences and extend their following. This invites new customers through the door, securing new connections and offering generosity in terms of introducing like minded brands to a consumer’s world.
Brands need to build a network round a central brand purpose that sparks an emotion. Building lifestyle brands founded on brand love, gets straight to the heart and establishes core business objectives. Exploring the brand personality, market dynamic and customer intelligence uncovers the connections that generate loyal brand fans. In building beyond a community, it’s about a connected group of people, united by a mindset, members who actively exchange values. This creates networks that harness a loyal following.
Clothing brand Supreme is built on a limited release of quantities of product online and in store, consequently the secondary after market is worth millions of dollars. Supreme has no control over this or any revenue but the powerful network generated keeps the products in demand. Bot vendors have even have coded software to beat the website demands and ensure swift payment. On a recent release Supremes website received 986, 335,133, page views and 1,935,195,305 purchase attempts – mostly from bots not even real humans.
Supreme are also famous for collaborating with other brands to extend their network and gain access to collaborators databases. This powerful secondary market is to be celebrated and acts as a key defence to the brand. It will be interesting to see how Carlyle Group will capitalise on this business model.
Cosmetic blog Glossier built its success on feature ‘The Top Shelf’ showcasing the stories and beauty routines of a wide range of women. Thousands of thousands of women have formed a network, allowing Glossier to make a massive dent in the beauty industry. Glossier understands the power of a two-way conversation, engaging fans in feedback on potential new product releases, this is invaluable building an influencer market. Glossier rejects a celebrity face to use employees and customers as the face of the brand. Glossier involves the consumer and always says thank you. There is also a clear operational transparency that allows Glossier to retain an accessible price point, unafraid to let consumers know when products are out of stock. All of this creates a powerful defence network around the brand.
The vulnerability of a brands defense had been highlighted by the recent press on Lululemon sharing a fabric supplier with e-commerce giant Amazon which has recently moved into activewear – this resulted in a LuluLemon’s shares dropping 4 percent in two days. Should brands be patenting processes and fabrics alongside design aspects? This highlights the importance of building a powerful brand purpose and product that protects and keeps replicates at bay.
When a product is built and defended by brand love aimed at consumers needs and desires it builds an emotionally connected network that is shared and exchanged. This becomes a very powerful tool in gaining market share and customer devotion which ultimately brings commercial success. It has never been more important to deliver a concept that attracts a mindset beyond product. There seems to be a general less is more approach - less emphasis on product and more investment in how brands can help build a lasting relationship with their consumers. Achieving a better quality of life is top of mind for some brands – it seems in some cases building “a better you” is actually becoming the product itself. This is illustrated by the new launch of No1 Carnaby by Sweaty Betty, a space of edited retail product incorporating a fitness studio, farm café and blow dry bar. This is the perfect place for their growing network to hang out and form a connected defence, an ‘ownable’ culture and hub, which is difficult for would be competitors to imitate, around the brand.
We are a passionate team of curious designers and thinkers driven to deliver commercial results by accelerating brand love. We explore how to genuinely capture hearts and minds – ultimately aligning with personal consumer demands with an aim to reduce complexity and effort. There is a “make it mine “ generation of consumers emerging that invest in curating their lives and don’t want to fit into someone else’s mould – they expect brands to craft a personalised relationship.
We work closely with a diverse range of lifestyle brands on a global stage. Often, there is a need to revitalise a brand that has faded in a fast changing market. We apply our intuition and intelligence in identifying what to lose, what to keep and what to evolve. Revisiting why a brand was set up in the first place, bringing the lost story to the surface, extracting this original brand love and reconnecting consumers over multiple, seamless touchpoints builds a solid foundation for brand revitalisation.
Retaining the acceleration of an already successful brand is ensuring that their message continues to evolve and amplify in an increasingly competitive context. Great creative design always drives great commercial results and distinctive customer experiences sit at the heart of accelerating brand love.
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