The Role of Brand in Digital Transformation

Medium Read

Digital transformation as a buzz phrase has been floating around for the past few years and in some ways has lost its impact. However, consumer behaviour and expectations continue to evolve at a rapid pace along with changes brought about by advances in technology and the growing power of data. This change brings new entrants who have spotted opportunities and can move quickly to jump on market share. Most businesses underestimate the scale of disruption this can bring. Far from being safe, incumbent organisations need to constantly evolve and look ahead in order to stay competitive and keep their customers loyal. The majority of incumbents who don’t respond and transform ultimately fail[1].


People-first transformation

Digital transformation is usually focussed around technology and was traditionally led by the IT teams. Following a series of success and failure stories being published, the majority of transformations are now being backed by the C-suite to ensure it’s a business-wide, not IT-only, transformation. However, we still believe the industry needs to go a step further to make such projects a real success. Transformation projects are all about people; evolving businesses to meet today’s behaviours and expectations. This shouldn’t just be for end-users, but for the employees of the organisation too. Without people engaging with the new systems and technology in place, the transformation project will fall flat.

Every digital transformation project should have an internal engagement stream of activity to it. Often, the internal engagement part of a transformation project is approached as nice-to-have rather than must-have. This is a mistake for two reasons. Firstly, the war for talent will be won and lost based on experience. There’s no point transforming to prepare for the future while losing key talent because they didn’t understand what was going on. Secondly, once the transformation has taken place, the people ensuring it is successful aren’t just in the project team but are across different business functions rolling it out. There needs to be a brand story woven into a change management plan accompanying every transformation project; to explain why it’s happening, what the vision is, what benefits it will bring to each and every employee, as well as customers.

Communicating this transformation story to teams is vital to direct focus toward the end goal and to ensure talent doesn’t haemorrhage to a competitor along the way.


Do it with purpose

To achieve impactful transformation, in any medium, there needs to be a strong brand purpose behind it. If you want to create a transformation that not only retains your existing customers and employees, but creates advocates to help acquire new customers, then you need a wider purpose behind the transformation than just IT updates.

Many, if not all, Digital Transformation projects require the collaboration of different teams from across a business; IT, Marketing, HR, Tech, Design. Most of us know that a brand goes far beyond a logo and colour palette, but we’re often asked how brand comes into play during a Digital Transformation process. There needs to be an overarching goal to unite every team, and every task. Brand purpose sets a clear path and helps to define a unified success criterion, centred around the vision for the business. Every design decision we make through the transformation process should focus on delivering the best customer experience.

While there have been many Digital Transformations publicised in recent years, the most notable have been those who align digital experiences to the brand’s overarching purpose. If you have a brand purpose that drives every decision, you create genuinely memorable experiences for your audience.


Experience over product

78% of millennials value

experience over products[2]

For many consumers, experiences are becoming more important than products and this is changing how companies create, deliver and measure value. Many businesses in traditional industries look only to their direct competitors and, even then, only at a limited number of touchpoints.

In that light, they may look adequate, but we must remember that today’s digital customers, along with internal colleagues, will compare every digital experience to the next tab opened. This means every brand is up against the Airbnbs, Amazons and Googles of the world. Being ‘better than your peers’ is no longer enough.


Value exchange

69% of age 25-34 shoppers are willing

to trade their personal information for

more personalised services[3].

In this culture of experience, consumers expect brands to know what they need and when. Data can help provide an experience which fits seamlessly into a consumer’s everyday life. Although consumers are wisening up to how their data is being used, that doesn’t mean they are closing all doors to all brands. It means brands need to prove the worth of providing that data; they need to show how they are using a customer’s data securely to create a seamless experience that adds value every time they interact. We need to move away from data for data’s sake; it’s not about having 100,000 records in your database but about using that data to truly understand your consumer and then deliver the best experiences for them.


When embarking on a digital transformation journey, focus must fall on engaging internal teams, communicating a clear purpose and creating experiences centred around your customers’ needs, now and in the future. Technology, data and design are the vehicles for those experiences, not the drivers. Remember, without your customers there wouldn’t be a business to transform so they should be at the heart of your transformation journey.


[1] McKinsey Digital Global Survey, 2016 and 2017; McKinsey analysis

[2] “Fueling the Experience Economy,” Harris Poll and Eventbrite, 2014

[3] “Consumers Want a More Seamless and Personalized Customer Experience From Their Bank,” Cisco Press Release, 22 April 2013”