The last couple of years have seen a number of startups companies the world over disrupt several industries through innovative products underpinned by shift in business model, technological advancement among other factors. Successful companies such as Safaricom, Equity Bank, Uber have one thing in common; they look beyond product and service features, functions and performance but strive to understand the real meaning users give to things. This is called design driven innovation but that is a story for another day.
Successful companies in Kenya and Africa from a pedestrian point of view are not your average incumbent organisation; they are all newcomers and seem to have common trend although they operate in different industries. Two factors that drive them are design driven innovation combined with new age digital branding.
New digital branding goes beyond ad hoc posting stuff on your website and social media pages but looks to engaging customers strategically in continuous conversation.
I will focus on new age digital branding and how it makes companies that adopt it so successful.
First and foremost successful digital brands don’t just post advertisement on social media and website to position their brands in the minds of the consumer; their focus is positioning their brands in the lives of their customers.
Further they don’t just post about their products and services online, they engage customers more as users than buyers directing their investments away from pre purchase promotions to post purchase user experience and advocacy.
Incumbent brands although perform well on average due to the fact that they have existed for a long time and have, therefore, diversified their portfolio prefer to advertise and engage customers through traditional media, which contrast to fast rising digital brands that are more often discovered via social media and direct word of mouth.
Successful digital brands focus on user experience and creating demand for product or service use contrasting incumbents who are focused on advertising to create demand for their products or services.
Similarly incumbent companies are worried what they tell customers and therefore craft elaborate messages and engage PR firms to manage their corporate image while adventurers digital brands are more concerned with what users are telling each other since their view of customers is less of one time buyers to more as users or members with a continuous relationship.
The point can be summed up by what most golf enthusiast will tell you; the best way to hit the golf ball is focusing not on the ball, but your swing and follow through.
Companies looking to exploit the branding potential unlocked by core digital technologies need to make the shift in their engagement with customers – from purchase to usage. These changes fundamentally require rethinking strategy, organisation, investment, and measurement.
Victor Otieno, Director-Research and Innovation at Wylde International