Brand evolution: a critical step in digital transformation

Repositioning your business to keep pace with game-changing technologies requires a brand narrative that's all about the human touch, so it resonates with customers.

Johannesburg, 26 Jul 2019
Read time 4min 00sec
Mark Taylor, CEO, Nashua
Mark Taylor, CEO, Nashua

The term ‘digital transformation’ is generally used to describe the way in which companies are evolving to best exploit new, game-changing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and the Internet of Things (IOT). However, such an evolution doesn’t take place in a vacuum, and while an organisation’s technology and approach clearly need to transform, in broader terms, businesses will also have to begin reinventing themselves in a customer-centric fashion if they are to stay relevant in the digital age.

In other words, they may have to reposition their brands or adopt a whole new business style in order to remain relevant. While this includes the necessary evolution from simply supplying a product to partnering with customers to create real business solutions, the reality is that to be successful, such a repositioning needs to create a brand story that resonates with customers.

According to Mark Taylor, CEO of Nashua, most companies accept that in today’s world, the best way of differentiating their business is via customer service. A good brand repositioning simply takes this approach to the next level by appealing not just to the customer, but also to the human being within.

Furthermore, with technologies like AI, automation and IOT all taking over what were previously human roles, leading to increased human-to-machine rather than human-to-human contact, it is clear that focus must be placed on the ‘human’ aspect elsewhere in the value chain.

“When it comes to rebranding, there are two ways businesses can look to undertake such an operation. The first is through what we can call ‘evolutionary rebranding’, which is relatively basic changes such as an updated logo, a change in packaging or a difference in the manner products or services are delivered. In much the same way as people update their wardrobes every few years, rebranding like this helps a business remain current and in style,” says Taylor.

“This type of rebranding is all about keeping things fresh and ensuring that the energy surrounding the brand and the business doesn’t become stale. It also allows the company to leave behind baggage that is no longer relevant, such as when Apple, which today sells more iPhones than PCs, changed its name from ‘Apple Computers’ to the simpler ‘Apple’.”

The other type of rebranding can be termed ‘revolutionary’, and usually means moving beyond a basic update to one where you reposition the brand to stand for something new. This is a more radical shift and may mean a whole new direction or business model, such as moving from selling products in stores to selling direct to consumers via the Internet.

“Of course, for a revolutionary rebranding to work, it is important that these organisations make brand adjustments that are not wholly disconnected from previous positions. So, a supplier of hardware and software that rebrands as a solutions business may well work. On the other hand, a supplier of networking equipment rebranding as a cloud provider may not. Ultimately, customers need to still be able to connect the company’s past that resonates with them to the future it aims to create.

“Remember, though, that whatever type of rebranding you choose, it needs to keep the customer benefits front and centre. Rebranding is not about helping yourself; it must always be about bringing a fresh new benefit to the client.”

There is little doubt that digital transformation is creating a faster-paced, more automated and extremely digitally driven society, which means that humanity is fast becoming the new premium, Taylor says. The human touch, particularly in the world of business, is becoming increasingly scarce, and therefore, coveted.

“Thus, for any rebranding effort to truly be successful, your business should focus on cutting through the techno-babble in order to connect with audiences, pull at their heartstrings and engage with them.

"Remember that in this world of technology, it is imperative that you still appeal to the humanity in people. This means using human moments to show how your technology is having an effect on everyday people, on businesses and on the world as a whole. Perhaps the best way to describe this people-focused style of rebranding is as something that creates a new narrative, one that fits with the constantly evolving vision your customer has about their needs,” concludes Taylor.