Is your brand keeping up with the platform world?

By: Vivaldi

Last month, Vivaldi, the growth, innovation and brand strategy consultancy, hosted on October 4th the first “Breakfast of (Brand) Champions,” a workshop series specially organized for the Branding Special Interest Group of AMA Chicago. We focused the inaugural workshop on how to build strong brands in today’s rapidly changing world. With platforms seemingly poised to take over our business landscape, we discussed how platform thinking can benefit even incumbent brands as they evaluate their own path forward.

The workshop kicked off by defining platform thinking as the ultimate source of value creation for modern business success – where value is created not by means of optimizing production and traditional value chains but by facilitating interactions and linking data sources for greater impact.  Platform companies attract a wide range of participants, and involve them in the creation of products, services, and experiences that help solve real problems and meet real goals, and that enable the participants to collaborate and interact with each other, and thus increase the value of the products and create exponential growth.

Using Vivaldi client LEGO as a case study, we explored how the modern advantage of facilitating interactions could be adopted by other brands – and how a thoughtful approach to understanding how to create value could leverage the global infrastructure of connectivity and collaboration, shifting power instead of struggling to control it.

We had a fantastic time and participants left the workshop energized by the conversation and the new thinking that emerged. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, here are three questions that were asked of participants, as they identified the best platform approach for their own brand and gathered into breakout groups where the Vivaldi team helped outline key steps that brands can take to navigate today’s world of platforms.

1. What is your brand’s source of strength?

As an incumbent player, two of your key advantages in building a platform are your existing customer base and an established network of suppliers, partners and intermediaries. You can begin the business of building a platform with a selected set of existing customers, and then grow the platform from there. But in order to do so, there needs to be some basis for which existing customers would want to bet on you. And that’s where your brand comes into play. It’s important to understand your brand’s source of strength as it will influence what type of platform you can most easily and credibly build and how to communicate the value it brings to participants.

2. What enabling processes and technologies can you take advantage of?

Are you, like John Deere whose sophisticated tractors can be equipped with sensors to collect and communicate data, able to bring the IoT to each of your products in order to offer a new data infrastructure to partners? Do you, like Amazon who put its warehousing and fulfillment capabilities at the service of small businesses globally, excel at certain activities along the value chain and can you offer these to participants in exchange for gathering data about participants on the platform? Or are you, like GoPro who has become a media powerhouse, at the center of user generated content that can be shared and amplified, leading to network effects?

There are many ways to build the processes and technologies that will enable your platform, but before you plan a new digital transformation project, take a look at the initiatives already in place within your organization. You may be surprised at how forward-thinking they are when looked at in the right light.

3. What interactions can you facilitate?

The final question that we addressed in the workshop was that of knowing how to uniquely respond to the market’s needs. Using a series of probes, we explored the long list of possible stakeholders who could interact on our platforms, the goals they were pursuing, the data each of them would need to meet their goals, but also what data they had or could generate easily for others to meet their goals. This led to some insightful ideas regarding how some of the companies present could create new connections between stakeholders, play a different role than today, and create value in the process.

We wrapped up the workshop by discussing how this platform exploration could help expand a brand’s vision, shared some examples and introduced our next session. Join us in Q1 of 2018 for the second “Breakfast of (Brand) Champions.” We’re partnering with Barry Calpino, VP Innovation at ConAgra to talk about brand innovations and share some tips and tools to consider as you look ahead to 2020.

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