Inside the heart of ING’s newly designed London offices the EACD hosted a coaching day, the theme of which was “How to future-proof your brand”. Marc Cloosterman and Jo Davies were the experts the EACD had invited to lead the session. Approximately 50 attendees from a variety of industries attended the session, all with a desire to discover how to manage their brands through change and disruption.

What does the future have in store for brands?

The event was kicked off by Marc Cloosterman, CEO of VIM Group, who introduced the audience to the digital trends, that he and Laurens Hoekstra have predicted in their book Future-Proof Your Brand, that will have the greatest impact on brands and the organisation of brand   in the coming years. These trends include technology such as augmented and virtual reality, the introduction of the 5G network, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Marc predicted that any brand who is not already thinking ahead about how these new technologies will affect their daily management of brand, the assets, communication and marketing will struggle to thrive.

Marc proposed that the world of brand management is facing a paradigm shift, with brands becoming more community managed, instead of “policed” from one central point. Brand managers are also facing increased complexity due to the explosion of channels and brand touch points in recent years. Marc then went on to discuss how to approach brand from the business administration side, how to present the brand as a financial asset, and how to translate its importance into a language that can be understood in the boardroom.

Putting theories to the test

The second portion of the afternoon took the form of a workshop, and was led by Jo Davies, Managing Director, VIM Group. The attendees were split into small teams, and each team was provided with a fictional brief, detailing a company and their business strategy. The teams were then asked to have collaborative and immersive thinking about how these fictional companies could organise their brand to meet these business strategies. The focus being how do you future-proof; thinking about tomorrow, rather than today. From mapping out the customer and employee journeys for their brand, to identifying the priority brand touch points, and brainstorming ways of creating employee engagement. The next step was to consider how to measure brand touch points for brand performance, and how to apply new trends and digital disruption to their strategies. The final part of the task was to then analyse their proposed brand strategy and identify where it aligned with the business strategy, and define what would be useful when creating a business case for the organisation.

After working through their briefs, the teams reconvened to share their strategies with the rest of the group. Although each team approached the task differently, there were several recurring themes that reflected real world trends. Topics that arose included as the importance of data, developing and training employees on all levels to become brand ambassadors, and with the prevalence of social and digital strategies, the lines between the communication and digital departments are constantly blurred, clearly showing that a more collaborative, brand management structure needs to be embraced within organisations. The afternoon concluded with an opportunity for attendees to freely discuss the topics of the day, and ask any lingering questions.