David Cooperstein of Forrester Research Shows CMOs How to Build 21st Century Brands

Read the original post published on iCrossing’s Great Finds blog on May 3, 2013.

Are you a 21st century brand? You are if you deliver a connected experience for empowered consumers, according to David Cooperstein, vice president and principal analyst of Forrester Research. Cooperstein discussed the attributes of successful 21st century brands at the iCrossing CMO SummitMay 3.

Cooperstein kicked off his presentation by showing key data points on how consumers use online media: there are 133 billion searches on Google per month, 400 million tweets sent per day on Twitter, and more 33 million streams per day on Hulu.  Audiences online are much larger than traditional television audiences, and even larger than traditional print audiences.  Consequently, brands that embrace new media and digital marketing can experience a greater volume of success.

But how does a brand succeed in the digital age? You start by taking a look at the changing activities and desires of your consumers. Cooperstein built off Tom Daly’s earlier CMO Summit presentation on building mobile connectedness for Coca-Cola, stating that Forrester has witnessed a significant mobile mind shift. This shift has made it so consumers expect that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at the moment of need. So-called perpetually connected consumers – those who have at least three online devices, who go online at least three times per day, from at least three different places – thrive off of convenience and building shared experiences.

Because of the desire for perpetual connectedness, brands need to shift their perceptions of traditional marketing and focus more strongly on improving the consumer experience. Consumers drive the strategic direction of the brand and want to feel pride in the brands with which they interact. The greater amount of pride felt by a brand, the greater the chance the consumer will share those experiences.

How do brands manage this shift and become a more connected, 21st century brand?  Cooperstein shared three steps:

  • Steer the organization toward your brand’s North Star. A brand’s North Star is its guiding principle. This North Star needs to be honest, strategic, inspirational, and concise. In order to successfully navigate toward the North Star, marketers must lead the brand internally. They must inspire the organization and rally the culture around the brand. Marketers must communicate the brand’s North Star to guide internal and external strategy, while providing guidelines for a consistent brand experience.
  • Redefine how you deliver the brand experience. Because of the ever-changing perceptions and desires of consumers, successful brand marketers will be the ones who present their brand experience is a new way. Marketers must first focus on building a message that tells a story, and then take action to match that story and purposefully engage the consumer. Finally, all products must deliver on your new values, your North Star, to ensure an honest interaction with the brand.
  • New traits strengthen the brand and serve the needs of empowered consumers. The 21st century consumer has taken the brand to a new land that can no longer be reached by traditional competitive positioning and shareholder gain alone. Brands now need to create a roadmap – using Forrester’s Brand Compass – to navigate their brand to become trusted (being more transparent and accountable); remarkable (disrupting the market in a way that is worthy of conversation); unmistakable (creating unique experiences); and essential (being irreplaceable in the lives of your customers). Developing those four traits will strengthen the brand pillars that support consumers’ new expectations of brands.

By finding your strategic direction, delivering a brand experience that engages your consumers, and strengthening your brand to serve the needs of these empowered consumers, your marketing moments will lead to deeper connections. And you will achieve greater success as a 21st century brand.

Dana Notman is a senior natural search strategist at iCrossing

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