Modern Brand Pillars

With the annual Cannes advertising awards just wrapping up last week, it got us thinking about what it takes to build successful brands today. Advertising is still a hugely important part of marketing awareness and brand building – but this isn’t the age of Mad Men anymore. Below are the pillars of creating a successful modern brand.


Technology advances and media channel proliferation have clearly put the customer in control. Mass marketing has it’s place but personalization and authenticity drive results. Brand building begins with understanding the narratives happening in people’s lives and finding opportunities to participate and add value. Call it journey mapping, customer lifecycle, or touchpoint analysis – it all comes back to understanding real people, reaching them as an audience, and turning them from potential customers into brand advocates.

Brand Promise

Modern brands start with a promise, a purpose – what they’ll live up to and deliver upon. The Marketing 2020 Survey showed that brands with a strongly defined purpose (functional, emotional, societal) outperform those without a clear purpose. And this just makes intuitive sense with the continued impact of social media and growing millennial spending and consumption. In the old days a brand was the story told by a company about itself or its products. Today it’s the aggregated interactions and behaviors of the company and its customers in a (hopefully) virtuous cycle. Brands can no longer buy their way to market share via advertising; they must earn it via keeping a brand promise.

Experience Ecosystem

Brands today are effectively the sum of customer experiences across marketing, sales, product, and service. For the mathematically inclined, it looks something like this:

Each touchpoint, each interaction is an opportunity to fulfil the brand promise (and to surprise and delight the customer). The tools and techniques born in digital marketing 20 years ago (eg. user experience design, data analysis, personalization) are now becoming pervasive across the organization. This interconnected experience ecosystem can be a powerful driver of customer satisfaction and company growth.

Innovation + Iteration

Brand innovation is taking what’s new (like AR/VR, OTT, IoT) and making it relevant and meaningful to consumers and the business. But modern brands don’t stop there – they iterate relentlessly, fueled by data and insights. Jump in the Wayback machine to see what websites looked like 15 years ago, maybe BofA or Amazon or Nike. Change is good – whether its sites, apps, or the next experience on today’s cutting edge technologies. Modern brands learn from
the outside-in, from the experience layer, and evolve continuously. Lots of small bets and learnings add up to competitive advantage.

Zemoga has been helping to shape the experiences of modern brands for over 15 years. We hope our friends enjoyed the beaches of Cannes – we’ve been heads down focused on the future. Our proven methodologies, including rapid innovation workshops and expert design and development, can help you stay ahead.