Building brands at lightning speed

Brands don’t move at a single speed. New, technology-centric brands like Interbrand’s Breakthrough Brands—unencumbered by legacy processes and free to reinvent how they do things in the Age of You—can build up their businesses and brands at head-turning rates. Chinese rideshare brand Didi Chuxing, Indian online marketplace Flipkart, and US e-commerce and payments provider Square have reached valuations of 50 $b USD, 11 $b USD, and 6 $b USD respectively. What do they have in common? They’re all forward-thinking, digital-first companies that have worked just as hard to establish their brands as they have their new technologies.

The key insight is that being an agile innovator is not enough. There are plenty of companies creating incredible technology and breaking down paradigms that go nowhere.

Without a strong brand as an interface between your incredibly fast-moving company and your actual customers, it’s difficult to make real impact in the market.

This is where companies with established brands have a massive advantage. They have already done the hardest work: their brands are strong, recognized, even beloved. It’s the internal structure and capabilities that need to be boosted.

There are a few ways to build the technical capability of a company to expand its brand. Integrated systems and collaborative tools that provide seamless communication should be a given, but are often overlooked. Beyond that: acquiring, investing in, or partnering with younger, faster brands is effective. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn, Walmart’s acquisition of Bonobos, and the partnership between Target and Casper are all a testament to the growing popularity of this strategy. Now, as once-Breakthroughs reach the Best Global Brand level, they are even acquiring longer-established brands (and their clout)—Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods being a sign of what’s to come.

Worldwide spending on IoT will grow 16.7% in 2017, reaching more than $800 billion. [1]

Established brands are also in a good position to use and create new technology. While startups can drive flashpoint innovations with sustained focus, established brands have the budget to fund and foster these efforts at a larger scale. They are able to truly experiment and put ideas into practice with the resources that smaller companies just don’t have, to build their brands faster.

Samsung’s continued investment in VR and IoT, on display at the Samsung 837 experience space, is an example of a Best Global Brand that never stops in its efforts to put the latest technologies in the hands of real people. Auto brands like Nissan and Toyota continue to push boundaries for self-driving and electric cars, with up-and-comer Tesla setting the pace. Breakthrough Brand Face++ creates stunning facial recognition technology, but it took Lenovo to give them their most well known use case—allowing users to login to Lenovo products with their smile alone. Best Global Brands are enablers of technology, and when they combine new capabilities and solutions with a strong brand platform, it only amplifies their business growth.

Technology and brand are now indelibly intertwined. We form opinions on many brands through the user experience of their apps alone. Established brands that get the most attention do so for technological leaps and innovations, not just for the latest ad campaign. People want to try new things that work well, and when those things impart a stronger connection or a positive feeling, they are associated with the brand that supplied it in the first place. That needs to be the goal of any brand looking to grow, and technology can take them there faster than ever.

Building brands at lightning speed is not just reserved for startups. No matter how established or beloved a Best Global Brand is, continued brand-building is a must for business growth.

 

[1] IDC – Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide 2017