Brand Commerce De-Coded: Amsterdam Edition

In the Isobar offices, overlooking the IJ, Amsterdam’s waterfront, Isobar Netherlands recently hosted their inaugural brand commerce event — Brand Commerce: Decoded. This event was hosted for 30 key clients and partners including PostNL, Fanta and KARWEI and here’s my account of the highlights.

Roland Teerenstra, MD, Isobar Netherlands kicked off the occasion, explaining the team’s journey from a social agency to a full service digital brand commerce agency — and how over the last ten years, they have matured the market and grown social into a key pillar of brands marketing & communication plans. But, he stressed that social media could not be seen in isolation and that brands need to do more than connecting through communication and activation.

The Isobar Netherlands team consists of over 60 strategists, creatives, producers and social media specialists are working on delivering this vision through content, campaigns, experiences and also platforms, products and services together with our partners from the Dentsu Aegis Network.

At the event, Sue Mccusker, Isobar Global Client Director, presented an overview of brand commerce and emphasised that we need to embrace commerce in a way that captures consumers’ hearts and minds. This can be delivered by using technology to bring points of inspiration & technology ever closer together, delivering seamless, delightful, shoppable experiences at any point of the user journey. This was brilliantly illustrated by the Ze Beer Ordering App case study, embracing commerce in a way that excites Brazilian consumers.

Ze Delivery encompasses brand commerce by removing consumer pain points when their beer supply is running low! The party could be in full swing, the pub could be closed, it might be raining outside — so Ze Delivery allows users to replenish their stocks at the click of a button, with delivery from local suppliers taking less than one hour.

Sue discussed how this illustrated the success factors for brand commerce — the evolution of technology and the omni-channel experience, integrating online with offline, with data as an enabler of these experiences and creativity playing an integral and critical role.

Cheyney Robinson, Isobar EMEA & APAC Chief Experience Officer, discussed how at Isobar, we put the customer at the center of everything we do, and are driven by a mission to enhance the human experience. Our passion is to craft products, services and strategies into experiences to create meaningful relationships between people and brands.

The experiences we create need to keep up with the speed of change in the Technology sector. As we have entered the fourth industrial revolution, this is marked by automation, the IoT and cloud technology impacting all industries and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and nanotechnology are emblematic of this era. This new age is marked by transactional phenomena enabled by the ‘sharing economy’ and peer-to-peer exchange. Mobility, online marketplaces and social media have empowered consumers, changing how we transact and approaches towards customer service.

Cheyney reiterated that, “Customer expectations are constantly changing and experience has become the competitive battleground for brands. Experience Design integrates human-centered thinking and practices to uncover new ways of innovating, solving business problems in ways that enable better outcomes for people.” This holistic approach considers end-to-end experience within an ecosystem across all touch points, and is the opportunity for brands to create a lasting connection with people.

Cheyney further explained that, “It’s a strategic design capability that integrates customer-centric considerations and design thinking to uncover new ways of innovating, growing and evolving our clients’ business. Brands need to consider not just a ‘customer journey’, but an entire customer ecosystem reflecting every potential touchpoint.” Analytics and measurement must also be used rigorously to test solutions to provide a pathway to improving customer experience and loyalty.

‘Data as an enabler for seamless shopping experience’ was explained in a presentation by Brigit Bong (Data Strategist at DAN) and Leandro Nascimento (Data Activation Consultant DAN). They discussed bridging the gap between consumers and brands with real time behavioural data to bring brands closer to conversion and showed how even with a wealth of data available to us, less than 1% of data is analysed and less than 1% of analysed data is acted upon.

Kees Plattel, Creative Technologist, Isobar Netherlands followed Data with Creativity by taking the audience on a whistle-stop tour to envision what’s possible with creativity and technology.

This was followed by Laura van Riggelen, Manager Online Marketing, KARWEI and Martin Kloos, Strategy Director Isobar Netherlands, who discussed how KARWEI is putting brand commerce at the heart of their digital strategy. KARWEI is the number 3 home decoration store in Holland and has 137 shops, and in 2014 they changed their strategy for branding to become a differentiator with KARWEI’s positioning to become a source of inspiration for personal interior decoration for consumers.

KARWEI’s goal was to be relevant in all stages of the consumer journey — and connect inspiration and transaction — a brand commerce opportunity. A set of tools were defined to build credibility through storytelling, to create immersive experiences and to turn inspiration into real action, through digital campaigns and services. These included an experience where the consumer could upload their room and get a design recommendation, shoppable functions on social platforms and a boutique pop up store in Amsterdam. This campaign resulted in a 300% increase in conversions, 20% decrease in CPA and a significant increase in brand performance.

Finally the audience worked through crafting a brand commerce brief, led by Sytse Kooistra (Senior Strategist, Isobar Netherlands) and leveraging the power of unreasonable ambition and what is stopping brands getting there.

After an afternoon immersed in the brand commerce world in Netherlands, and in conclusion, Roland Teerenstra stated that to be really meaningful and relevant to consumers’ lives, brands need to add real value. Brands who thrive today understand that success does not come from broadcasting a promise through an ad. Marketing success comes from designing experiences, products and solutions that bring proof and build trust. Campaigns are no longer about messaging and reach, their role is to document the transformation you make and the things you do that are relevant to people’s experience.

Creativity and technology work hand-in-hand and enable us to turn each touchpoint into a source of inspiration and potential transaction. This is what drives us at Isobar — adding real value to consumers by designing delightful and seamless user experiences from the first point of contact, to the point of transaction.

Caroline Dean, Global Director of Marketing & Communications, Isobar