Digital transformation is everywhere you turn–it’s a rare business that’s not talking about what it means for them. If you’re in marketing, the digital revolution is flooding your inbox: every day you’re presented with new concepts for machine learning, automation, voice and visual search, and performance-driven social and behavioral targeting tools. The pressure is on to innovate and try the latest thing.
Digital-first outsiders are changing the fundamentals of business models and may well keep you up at night. What’s so compelling about brands like Warby Parker, Glossier, Allbirds and Caspar? They have a clear and simple benefit statement and offer immediate gratification. They bypass industry norms and favor speed over perfection. They have a single-minded brand personality, unique design and a viral-worthy story. Digital-first brands’ metrics of success are acquiring influencers, speed to purchase and accelerating repeat purchases.
So, where does that leave creative talent? Here are five imperatives that will help you navigate the digital transformation.
Business leader, foremost.
The changing business landscape creates a natural entrée to entrench yourself in digital business models and have career experiences that go well beyond creative disciplines. Get obsessed with where you can generate and capture data, what you do with it and the business models you can create from it. Hone in on simplifying processes and speeding up productivity for your customer. And be the voice that takes no prisoners when it comes to the user experience. Above all, stop limiting yourself to a functional silo: the next time you find yourself saying, “From a marketing perspective…” pause and reframe your role: “From the customer’s perspective…” or “The compelling value proposition is…”
Strategy before hype.
By that, I mean marketing and communication strategy is more important than ever. Creative talent is strategic by nature: one-part visionary, one-part scientist and you make things happen. The pace of technological change presents a great opportunity to be on the cutting edge, be a tech enthusiast, continually pilot and learn, and use digital to drive results. The caution is to focus less on being the first to use a novel technology and, instead, be the best at picking digital applications and platforms that are compelling to your audience as well as supports your strategy.
Guardian of trust.
Inherently, people want to trust brands, but it takes time to build and can be lost overnight. The pressure to move fast is real, but place a high premium on quality, safeguards and doing the right thing, even if it slows you down. These areas of brand superiority paired with deep customer understanding make you the trusted voice of reason when the shiny new thing comes around.
Passion for the brand.
Iconic brands matter; the problem is they get diluted over time and many try to be all things to all people. Now, more than ever, you need to understand what makes your brand great and fall in love with it. Take a fresh look at the essential core of your brand promise, simplify and bring out its unique personality.
A compelling brand story.
We don’t fall in love with functional benefits; we fall in love with stories. Tell us about the people, places and lives you impact. What are the design philosophy and people behind your brand? What’s its viral-worthy origin story?
New competition and the digital transformation give creative talent the opportunity to question everything, learn, grow and add new value. Your unique perspective and strategic thinking are needed more than ever.