Improved connectivity, platform proliferation and an increased access to data are changing the nature of not only what a brand can offer, but also how it is fundamentally experienced. Products are morphing into services — never-fading light bulbs, always-on music streaming, automatic car maintenance and self-repair.

Even brands themselves are morphing into experiences – Uber, Airbnb, Instacart, Spotify, Domino’s – all multi-sensorial, responsive, upgradable, fluid and adaptive. They are living entities powered by data, code, artificial intelligence, geospatial dynamics, movement, sounds, and touch, which when taken together create a proprietary user experience.

This is how they’re staying relentlessly relevant to their customers – by knowing who they are, anticipating the experiences they want, and delivering them where and when they expect them.

For a brand to succeed and remain relevant in this new service- and experience-led world, it’s not just about having the right technology in place. It’s about meeting and exceeding consumer expectations. Gone are the days of closed, branded ecosystems. It is no longer sufficient for brands to act alone. Consumers demand more. They want everything in their life to work seamlessly together, and to work for them as individuals.

Thus, companies need to shift their thinking from acquisition to engagement. Instead of trying to compete with the latest app in the App Store, companies must think about how their brand can work within it to deliver an integrated overall experience.

What is Brand as a Service?

Successful brands today understand the value of partnerships and how to leverage open ecosystems to deliver new services and experiences that enhance their relevancy. Their brands extend past any single product, and come to life in the very services and experiences they provide.

This idea of “brand as a service (BaaS)” requires a new perspective on consumer needs and behaviors, a revamped approach to designing customer experiences , and even new technologies to seamlessly connect different platforms and piece together a holistic and valuable customer experience.

How IFTTT is Enabling Brand as a Service

Third-party platforms like IFTTT fill a critical role in this new ecosystem. They integrate disparate pieces of a consumer’s life, transcending brand boundaries and ecosystems to help brands deliver relevance. They create new connection points and enable experiences that result in a sum that’s more than any individual part.

Let’s look at a few examples of how these new integration points are delivering relevance in the eyes of consumers:

Domino’s

IFTTT worked with Domino’s to help customers track their pizzas, post-order. Using IFTTT’s technology, Domino’s is enabling new ways to notify people about their order and customize their experience. Consumers can now activate a Domino’s-branded applet that turns the Philips Hue lights in their house red when their pizza is out for delivery, or one that emails their spouse when they’ve placed an order.

AXA

IFTTT has also shown AXA, a global insurance company, how they can evolve their brand and truly act on their mission: to help customers live their lives with more peace of mind by protecting them, their relatives and their property against risks. To do that, AXA has curated applets that work with a variety of smart home devices and systems using IFTTT. Unlike the other services on IFTTT, AXA doesn’t have an API — but by sharing these applets with their customers, they’re reinforcing their positioning as the experts in smart, secure homes.

Louisville, Kentucky

In addition, IFTTT helped Louisville, Kentucky transform into the first city-as-a-service. In its effort to make public data more accessible, Louisville worked with IFTTT to extract and deliver its data in an actionable way for people, starting with air quality. Now Louisville residents can use applets to monitor their air in real time with custom alerts.

4 Questions to Consider Before Starting BaaS

So, how can your company drive relevance through this “brand as a service” orientation? Here are a few key questions to start with:

1: Think beyond the branded ecosystem

Consumers today use a multitude of devices and apps, and they don’t differentiate between where one experience ends and another begins. It’s not enough to simply create your own branded ecosystem, it must also operate with others. As you think outside of your brand, identify partners who play a complementary role in your consumers’ lives.

What role can your brand play across a variety of channels to add value to your consumers? What other partners provide access to data or experiences that your consumers might find beneficial?

2: Anchor services in consumer needs, not functionality

There are a multitude of integrations possible via companies such as IFTTT: with 400 services on its platform, from BMW to Amazon Alexa to Fitbit, there are tens of thousands of possible applets partners can build. However, before going wild with every possibility, identify a key set of experiences, services or behaviors that will add value to your consumer, meet an unmet need, or remove friction from their experience. Taking a customer-first approach is a critical first step towards designing BaaS experiences.

Which touchpoints make the most sense with your services and will have the most impact for your customers?

3: Get specific

With the consumer benefit in mind, plot out specific use cases, in detail, of the experiences your brand wants to create. With seemingly endless possibilities from a technology-standpoint, it’s essential to start with a clear vision of the specific interactions you want to deliver for your consumers.

What are the specific use cases you want your consumers to experience?

4: Start small and build out based on the data

Prototypes can easily be created to test a proof of concept, before investing in any major builds. Begin with a limited set of actions as a start, building on the functionality once the data reveals what’s being used most by consumers.

For example, Honeywell, another IFTTT client, started small by creating simple applets: turn off the thermostat when the owner leaves the home, if the temperature outside drops, adjust the thermostat, etc. After launching their first service, their analytics quickly revealed that users loved connecting their thermostats with voice-controlled assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This data gave Honeywell valuable insights as they built more applets and added more services to their platform.

Which pieces of data are most important to your customers? How can you leverage analytics to better inform your strategy?

Visit the IFTTT partner platform to learn more about how it can enable your BaaS strategy.