Five minutes with Claudio Guglieri
Claudio Guglieri, executive creative director at global experience company, Huge, speaks to Transform magazine about the relationship between a brand and its product. He argues it's essential to express core brand values in every component of the product.
What is the relationship between a brand and its product?
The brand is the product and the product is the brand. In their symbiotic relationship one cannot exist without the other and both are essential to establish a relationship with your audience. Of all the places and spaces where a brand can interact with their audience the product should be the best articulation of all the tenets, values and behaviours of a brand. It's their reason for being and their best shot at captivating new advocates. A powerful brand not backed-up by a great product is like having a great movie poster but lacking a decent plot; disappointing and misleading.
In the case of brands that come to life as services we interact with every day, this relationship is much tighter and comes with the baseline demands of today's digital access. The brand of a famous sneaker company needs to come through their sneakers but also through the platform you use to trade them. Making sure the user experience, the content, and the design of the platform is built upon the brand pillars is critical to the perception of the brand.
Why is it important to express core brand values in every component of the product?
It's important because brands in the abstract mean nothing to people. It's what they interact with that ultimately ends up defining their perception of a brand. However oftentimes long roadmaps, backlogs and organisational debt get in the way and brands and products grow apart. The processes we use to create a brand, the progressive enhancements of a product and all the disciplines that it involves makes the governance of a brand really hard to manage at scale. A disconnection between brand and product leads to disconnected narratives between what the organisation thinks it stands for and what the product is telling customers they stand for.
We recently collaborated with a stealth startup in the wellness space to help bring to life their new brand and to develop an end-to-end platform to alleviate some of the pressures busy parents face and get more joy back in their lives. Their product’s core purpose is to help you focus on what matters most. As a brand it's thoughtful, encouraging and accomplishing. In the product these attributes come to life through an extremely clean user interface that is direct, purposeful and, when it's appropriate, it celebrates your accomplishments with you. This brand was created to save you time, not spend it.
What are the best ways of distilling brand values in product components?
I like to think of a brand manifesto as how you might describe your purpose and personality, whereas a product is how you enact it, live it, and deliver it in the hands of your customers. These are some huge moves we take to turn brand beliefs into tactical actions. Translate brand values into experience principles because brand values can at times feel lofty in the context of a digital product. And, define the practical implications of your experience principles.
Once you have defined what your brand should feel like in your product, it's time to find the right scenarios for it.Find your defining moments. In every product there are transactional moments and moments of high traffic where the user will have a positive mindset and a brand can shine. Then determine outlier moments. Products, like people, are defined by their virtues and flaws and making a brand moment of them can be as powerful as a successful signature moment.
How has the advent of digitalisation and increased technologies changed the way a brand presents its product?
Digitalisation has made brands more accessible to their audience than ever before. CPG brands, for instance, don’t just compete on local shelves anymore but at a global stage through traditional ecomm platforms and nascent social networks with ecomm capabilities. Brands have transitioned from an intentional comms strategy to an always on paradigm. Regardless of whether a brand comes to life as a digital service (ie. Instacart) or represents a traditional package goods company, they are expected to be available and exhibit their best contextually aware behaviour at all times.
As a result, brands can’t stay on the sidelines of societal issues anymore. Brands are part of society and their hiring practices, their carbon footprint, charity or even political contributions define the role they play in it. Audiences reward brands with cohesive behaviours across channels. Today, brands have more influence in the ongoing success or failure of their products. Therefore, how we work to define their values and how they come to life over time is more important than ever. It’s fair to say that a brand represents its product as much as the product and everything involved in it represents a brand. Everything we do for a brand, whether it’s product or marketing related, big or small, needs to ladder up and service their main purpose.