How to deliver a rich brand experience in someone else’s marketplace

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It’s more important than ever to protect a brand and shape a customers' journey. Michael Chadwick, Head of Strategy & Experience Cheil UK, chats to LBB about doing that on third-party marketplaces

Implementing a brand across third-party retailers is not a new quandary. For decades, the physical store has posed businesses with the same question: how can I present my brand and initiate customer experience optimally, in an environment operated by someone else?

In the digital world this just functions with the added wrinkle of often being navigated via mobile devices, where the real estate is magnitudes smaller and oftentimes more prescribed.

Effective brand experiences in third-party environments are possible for two types of brands…

Firstly, the biggest, most powerful brands and secondly, the most fluid and progressive.

The first are businesses able to evoke meaning through the simplest of assets – a colour, a lettermark, a shape, able to bring flavour, even in the most restrictive of environments, thanks to the strength and legacy of the distinctive assets they have built over time.

Secondly, we have the more interesting cohort – the D2C native, next-gen brands, designed for and built via the modern marketing environment. These brands are more fluid and able to morph into a variety of environments, yet retaining their core qualities, spreading organically across channels, even where the business has no control: growing through social, marketplaces and communities.

They are defined by underlying values and principles, delivered through behaviours, and built not just by words and images, but also by actions. So, the potential to feel this brand even in a marketplace with limited ‘branding elements’ is greater. From them we learn how critical product and packaging are. Growing in the D2C era, the marketplace challenge has been inherent: how to showcase themselves within a limited space? For this reason, the product and packaging alone are enough to express everything necessary – indeed, many tell their brand story as fluently through their product as they do through their marketing.

They also tend to have a highly developed aesthetic and tone of voice, recognisable wherever they show up – possessing the ability to adapt to any environment, yet always remaining consistent and true to their underlying values. Simply, they are at heart highly authentic, reflected through every aspect of the experience – therefore, space or latitude to dress the product in brand ‘clothing’ is often not necessary.

Other options…

Beyond rethinking and reimagining the approach to brand, there are other options. The first is for brands to make their own commerce destinations as attractive as the third parties’. This is no easy task, but the biggest brands are attempting it. Nike have stated their ambition to build a delivery function as fast and efficient as Amazon. Competing with the logistical and functional capabilities is a clear way to reassert power – albeit not a simple or low-cost endeavour.

Additionally, the marketplaces themselves are of course opening up possibilities for brand-building in their environment through the explosive growth of retail media. Media placements in third-party retailer environments are not just chances to drive conversion – but also to add that brand layer which may be more challenging to implement via store functionalities.

In essence, marketplaces may feel restrictive to brands which have learnt to build equity through paid media; but, to the next-gen of D2C native brands – and indeed any brand adopting that mindset – they can be fantastic showcases, as well as providers of reach.


Read the full article on LBB Online.