What are the current challenges for brands?
Matthias Pach - The market poses a certain dilemma. Brand managers act in a controversial field, because customers are so much more demanding, more saturated, and less easily accessible than they ever were before.
Dominic Bakic - The shelves of drugstores and supermarkets are filled in with semi-successful brands that struggle to meet steadily growing customer expectations while at the same time trying to differentiate themselves. All this takes place in an environment of saturated communication and target groups that can be heavily influenced by social media. The most important task in brand management today is to find a unique positioning and to assert it in the long term; rational factors play only a subordinate role in this equation.
And what solutions are there?
Matthias Pach - In our experience, there is only one long-term successful approach: embracing a holistic perspective of the brand and using targeted homogenous or synchronized brand touch points.
... could you please explain and elaborate?
Dominic Bakic - At the heart of this approach is the idea to carve out a brand‘s value and put it in the spotlight. We focus on character, tonality and benefit. The benefit may be functional or emotional. It is important to clearly and consistently implement all three elements across all the touch points of a brand.
This can be illustrated with the example of a professional hair care brand, where colour competence is at the core of the brand. Values like science, professionalism, and technology can be inferred, and this should be reflected in a clear and reduced style of the product design.
Matthias Pach - However, if you would now try to implement the described brand, we would drown in the “sea of equality”, because the brand would still be one-dimensional. Therefore, we mirror the brand‘s colour competence in a design concept with strong colours and well-known design elements from the world of painting throughout all touch points.
And this is enough to build a sustainable, multi-dimensional brand?
Dominic Bakic - No. A holistic approach like the one we are following requires that additional values are transported. An emotional perpetuation has to take place, in particular through the communication tools, the advertising campaign’s image world and the associations it triggers.
Matthias Pach - In order to emphasise the creative elements of the hairdressing profession and to reach the target group with a positive emotion, we used every-day items and tools used by hair stylists as design elements in our layouts, in order to infer a positive, artistic value to the craft. All we have left to do now is to transport all these elements at brand touch points, in order to create a holistic brand experience.
The way you put it, it sounds quite simple.
Matthias Pach - In theory, it is. The only problem is that there are very few service providers like us who have an intrinsic understanding of the international market and at the same time have the competence and the experience to give holistic support to a customer and work professionally on all brand touch points. On the other hand, it would be utterly impossible to coordinate several specialised agencies.
Dominic Bakic - In our method of operation, we follow the holistic approach that allows us to build brands, develop products, and to launch them on the market. We service our customers beyond the POS to the POA (point of action), because this is where products must hold their ground and be convincing. Our specialisation and our understanding of the beauty language and its development help us create unique brand identities.
How do catch new trends in this fast moving sector?
Dominic Bakic - Thanks to our international set-up and customers on five continents, it is possible for us to give forward-looking advice to our customers, and to discern and develop new trends even before they reach Europe.
For instance, we now see a trend we call „authenticity is the new organic“. In the future, it will not suffice to be simply organic or eco-friendly ...
Matthias Pach - ... or we observe the development of highly effective components for the cosmetics industry from so-called superfoods. Even if sometimes we can‘t imagine that there is still room for innovation in the beauty segment, the market is constantly moving and it remains exciting to see what will happen next.