Chief Growth Officer Ariadna Navarro recently shared her thoughts on building breakthrough brands in a piece published on MarTech Series. Ari explores the importance of truly differentiated brand experiences, the cyclical nature of brand-consumer relationships, and how even product-driven, tech companies need strong branding to truly stand out.
Check out an excerpt below, or click here to read the full article.
No matter how innovative your product or service is, or how niche of an industry your business operates in, it’s excruciating to find differentiation these days … and it’s a never-ending chase. The acceleration of a perpetually changing future has made it all that much more critical to sharpen the most important tool you have for standing out from your competitors: your brand.
Before digging deeper into how a brand is built, it’s crucial to first understand what we mean when we say “brand.” While many people (even some in our industry) conflate brand with advertising or the products they sell, those are only pieces of what you do that make up the larger idea of who you are. Put simply, a brand is the most compelling articulation of your business strategy—a clarification of what you stand for, and the basis of your relationship with customers. Note the word “compelling.” It has to be true, relevant and differentiated.
Using the Silicon Valley startup landscape as an example, you can see the effects of using product as a brand (PaaB™). Technology is not a differentiator anymore; it’s an equalizer. Although tech-driven, business-model innovation is great, it has to come with the development of brand. Think about how many times you’ve heard a business described as “the Uber of X” or “the Warby Parker of Y.” Just as quickly as those household names upended industries, they were engulfed in a sea of copycats all sporting minimal, templatized UX; clean, muted design; and a familiarly witty, human tone. When ideas are only new for a moment and products are easily imitated, “disruption” becomes more of a category than a way of standing out.
To avoid fights on features and performance comparisons, it’s up to brands to create a more authentic connection with customers, building relationships and loyalty over time. That’s what I call a “better human experience.” It’s a pursuit to create value for all stakeholders—employees, customers, investors, clients. But how do you commit to standing for something in an ever-changing landscape? It starts with conviction—fighting the urge to follow every trend or to say something broad enough to appeal to everyone, and instead find what’s true to you and relevant to your audiences. Identifying that sweet spot is what makes the connection between a brand and a customer resemble any other human relationship. For the same reasons love isn’t eroded by a single argument, customers stick by brands that stay true to the values that attracted them in the first place.
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Ariadna helps clients identify and unlock growth potential by connecting business strategy to brand and experience strategy as a way to relentlessly and cohesively deploy a company’s ambition. As Chief Growth Officer, she leads strategy, client engagement and business development. Acknowledging the connective tissue between what a brand is and what a brand does allows her to have a unique perspective on where markets are going, what clients need and how a brand can find a moment of differentiation in crowded markets.
Across these disciplines, you can find her working on projects from IBM to AT&T to Wayfair. Ariadna is relentlessly curious, whether figuring out the future of quantum computing or deeply understanding how a new acquisition fits within a company’s portfolio. She is passionate about politics and filmmaking, having earned a postgraduate degree in film. Ariadna joined VSA after heading up strategy at Interbrand. She is originally from Venezuela, and lives in New York with her husband and two kids.