How to avoid your brand being bypassed

Disruptor Trend Study: Jo Boyd, King and Tuke
In April, Foresight Factory hosted a Creative Exchange (an FF programme which invites innovators, experts and industry disruptors to share their ideas with our team) with Jo Boyd, Managing Director at independent advertising agency and brand consultancy King and Tuke. With over 25 years in the business, Boyd came in to give his opinion on how brands can avoid becoming invisible when purchasing decisions are automated.
The threat – brands are bypassed
Voice is regaining importance for brands thanks to connected home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers that use smart assistants and voice commands. In the trend Branding Bypass, Foresight Factory describes the disruption AI assistants cause when they govern brand discovery. Although the functionality of AI assistants and smart homes is currently limited, Foresight Factory predicts that, by 2025, 11% of global consumers will rely on algorithms to automatically choose financial products. The connected home of the future can make purchasing decisions on behalf of the consumer.

The solution – strong branding
Jo Boyd argues that the human needs brands fulfil will remain the same in spite of automatic purchasing. Customers will continue to look for reassurance from brands that they can trust products, and will use brands to make choice easier to navigate. Brands will also continue to signal personal identity and self expression. On this basis, Jo has created five principles for maintaining visibility:
1.Come back to a proper brand idea
A core tenet of branding and marketing is a solid and relevant brand idea that informs all decisions. Boyd says “brands must ask themselves, how can we innovate and what role can we play to ensure we remain relevant to consumers?” From values to personality, product design, innovation and all marketing and communication, a strong brand idea becomes a guiding principle.
2. Remember shoppers are polygamous
Shoppers are polygamous and will not solely rely upon one channel or one brand. Challenger brands can continue to entice consumers through traditional and digital retail and marketing. However, there is also an opportunity to partner with new channels to become a preferred brand.
3.Do not overestimate invisible shopping (yet)
Current automated shopping decisions show how easy it is to damage consumer trust with bad automated choices. This includes grocery stores making swaps in online shopping. “My son loves Ketchup, but he will only eat one brand of Ketchup. Heinz. He is a Heinz fan through and through and no algorithm will change that” said Boyd.
4.Use new channels to learn about your customer
AI’s potential to analyse new streams of data and create insight is the first step towards truly personalised 1:1 marketing. This is an opportunity for relevant communication with consumers in real time.
5.Make your brand heard
Right now AI assistants threaten to become an intermediary between brands and consumers. Smart brands are creating skills on channels like Amazon Echo and Google Home so that they have a brand voice in these channels.
Voice is yet another channel in which a brand must express a recognisable and consistent story. Tone of voice in aural channels is key, which Public Health England understood when developing a Breastfeeding Friend skill that is available on Amazon Alexa and Facebook Messenger. Mothers can access breastfeeding support 24/7, important for lonely middle of the night feeds, but importantly a healthcare worker recorded all of content so that the interaction sounds as natural as talking to a midwife.
Foresight Factory’s View
Maintaining a strong brand story over so many channels is challenging, and some may simply prioritise winning the favour of the smart assistant’s manufacturer to become one of their guaranteed, go-to brands. Like Boyd, we think there is still value in branding. A strong brand is less reliant on retailers that make changes. Instead, because of their direct connection with consumers, B2C brands are in a position to control their own future.
Foresight Factory published the full article on FFonline in May 2018. Jo Boyd, Managing Director at King and Tuke, took part in The Creative Exchange @ Foresight Factory, a programme which invites innovators, experts and industry disruptors to share their ideas with our team. Please contact your Account Team or write to [email protected] if you would like to find out more.
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