Swiss Brand Congress: Brand Communication in Radical Change

Digitization is omnipresent in the economy and is leading to a strong change and increase in media use. At the Swiss Brand Congress 2019, those responsible from well-known companies showed how they are dealing with the challenges. Around 500 brand decision-makers attended the event at Zurich's The Dolder Grand hotel on Tuesday.


The way brands and customers interact has changed radically over the past 15 years. "The established principles of successful brand communication are being turned upside down," says marketing expert Torsten Tomczak of the University of St.Gallen. "Throw away the books on brand management, including mine!", Tomczak becomes even more explicit. Brand management, he says, is increasingly developing into a team sport in which more and more specialist jobs have to be filled perfectly.

Carl-Frank Westermann, CEO of Wesound, talked about what a fully managed brand has to achieve today: "Audio branding gives the brand additional value". According to him, a good corporate design not only attracts attention visually, but also acoustically. At Swiss insurer Die Mobiliar, they are already setting acoustic accents and making themselves heard. "We've done away with music on hold on the telephone hotline. Instead, the stories of the claims sketches are now recited," explains Michèle Rodoni, Head of Market Management at Mobiliar.

Attention is the new digital currency

"Brands have three seconds to attract attention," explains Roger Haemmerli, Head of Social Media at Ringier. That's why attention is also the new digital currency. View therefore creates around 200 content posts per day for its approximately 1 million followers. According to Haemmerli, companies are now competing with all media content.

Instead of content masses, Coop relies on a targeted approach to customers through regionality and individualization. Communication in various regional dialects strengthens customer sympathy, which creates identification with the brand. Peter Erni, partner at Brain & Heart Communication, summarizes success on social media in the pillars of content, reach and community management: "Brands must successfully manage the reach, the necessary content and the users on all channels.

The balancing act between digital-first and customer-first

If it's up to Nicolas Ziegler, Group Vice President at ABB, this balancing act need only be minimal. The industrial company has set itself the goal of embodying "digital-first" and "customer-first." "We've turned everything upside down except the logo: brand experience, masterbrand and brand activation. Digital-first because that's the most important touchpoint for the customer," Ziegler said.

Mammut is going one step further and not only networking its product portfolio, but its customers as well. "We have created a digital platform through which Mammut customers can find each other for joint ski tours," explained Oliver Pabst, CEO of Mammut. Mammut's goal is to become the digital leader in the outdoor industry.

Digital inflation - and what about print?

Olaf Hartmann, Managing Director of Multisense Instituts in multisensory marketing, takes up the cudgels for non-digital communication channels such as print and TV. He says these are still the first choice for conveying many brand messages, even though the costs are higher. "Olymp has managed to double sales since 2009 with print-only measures. Multisensual communication incorporating haptics and sound is the silver bullet for many brand messages."

Award for practice and science

At the Swiss Brand Congress, the Swiss Academy of Marketing Science Award once again presented the Rigour & Relevance Research Award for a particularly practical research project. In 2019, Tim Böttger received this award for his research work on the topic of "Customer Inspiration". According to Böttger, the usual measurement of customer satisfaction today starts far too late in the customer journey.

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