Mastercard. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mastercard. Picture: SUPPLIED

The world is transforming at an incredible pace, affecting how consumers engage with everything around them, including brands. The digital age continues to transform the way we live, shop and pay – including how and where brands show up. By redefining the way they engage with consumers, brands can establish more meaningful relationships with them.

Communication has evolved during this transformation. Take the example of Mastercard’s “Priceless” platform – a single word that is embedded in the DNA of our brand and drives differentiation. While it has been a constant, critical element for more than 20 years, what it stands for has evolved over the years. What started out as a storytelling tool is now something that engages our consumers in new and innovative ways. We care about what they value and what would make a positive difference in their lives. This is exponentially more powerful than any advertising material could ever be.

Brands today should encourage and inspire consumers to create their own stories, their own memories; this ensures that the brand resonates with them on a more personal level. As part of this approach, paying greater attention to how you engage with your consumers and enabling them to make their own memorable moments are paramount. This is more pertinent than ever before given that today consumers expect action, not advertisements, from brands.

The power of brand identity

Our research indicates that 84% of people say brands have a strong identity and a clear role in the world, while 87% say that brands must stand up for what they believe in. This is a clear indication that brands need to evolve and touch the lives of their consumers – passive brand identities will not remain relevant for long. Brands which still view their consumers as statistics, rather than real human beings, and approach communication in an impersonal manner, will fall by the wayside.

A brand needs to connect to people on several levels and be able to appeal to their various senses, which means that the need for continued transformation and innovation cannot be overstated.

In addition, the digital age is creating new definitions of consumer needs and experiences. As the lines between digital and physical blur and the number of consumer touch points increases, consumers’ brand expectations evolve in keeping with the rise of new technologies — some, like ad blockers, increasing challenges, and others, like voice technologies, opening up new possibilities.

The big take-out

To remain relevant, brands need to innovate to be more dynamic, more engaging and more meaningful than ever before.

There has been a rapid ascent of audio in our lives – hundreds of millions of people are already using smart speakers, and voice shopping alone is set to hit $40bn by 2022. In light of this development, an audio strategy is no longer a “nice to have”; it’s just as important as a brand’s visual identity – sound adds a powerful new dimension to brand identity. A sonic brand, and the opportunity to further explore all the senses, is a crucial component to the advancement and evolution of any brand.

Remember that consumers are human beings

To remain relevant, brands need to be more dynamic, more engaging and more meaningful than ever before. Innovation remains key to ensuring that a brand transcends from what would conventionally be a mere logo to something that can engage consumers in a multisensory way, something that stands for a higher purpose.

In essence, speak to your consumers as you would to a real human being who might be standing right in front of you. The age of impersonal communication with a one-way stream of messaging is all but gone, and that’s where the innovation piece of the puzzle comes in. Innovation is key to opening a meaningful dialogue with your consumers, and eventually transforming your brand. It is the lifeblood that makes a brand alive, and can only be achieved if a company fosters a culture of innovation – the change has to come from within.

*Beatrice Cornacchia is senior vice-president of marketing & communications, Middle East and Africa, at Mastercard