As we move into summer, we continue to see many interesting shifts in the world of brand. Some of the things we reported on earlier this year – AI, relevance and storytelling – are still top of mind, but moving forward, I see the following trends shaping the next several months:

1. Brand and Experience are Inextricably Linked

In fact, Gartner recently came out with a study that said 89% of executives believe that the primary battleground they are fighting to win on right now is customer experience. Leveraging real-time data, we continue to see the brands that can deliver more intuitive, hyper-personalized, dynamic and contextualized experiences are winning the relevance war.

At Prophet, we call these living brand experiences. Think Spotify, Netflix, Sephora, Salesforce and UPS. They have mastered creating living brand experiences in moments that matter the most to customers.

2. Culture Matters

It always has. Prophet’s own research shows that strong brands, experience and culture all go hand in hand. Starbucks’ recent teachable moment about inclusivity has raised the cultural bar. Lyft’s empathy-driven, people-first approach, vis-à-vis Uber are great cultural movement proof points.

We need to remember, customers, more and more are not just buying stuff, but they are buying into stuff, which generally starts with a strong brand purpose and an even stronger culture that can pay off that brand purpose.

3. Content Is King

It’s been a hot topic for some time, but brands are waking up to the ways relevant content can help them cut through the clutter.

There is a recent surge in the Chief Content Officer title, many of whom are hired from outside the company, and don’t necessarily report to the CMO. Their mandate? Create independent, unbranded content that persuasively connects with consumers, earns their trust and reinforces core brand equity.

4. Security and Privacy are Part of the Brand Dialog

There have been very few companies immune from data issues or even breaches, but we believe companies that are transparent about how they are dealing with them will come out on top. It’s even possible to build it into the brand narrative, using it as a driving attribute and point of difference, like Apple, Unilever and even Wells Fargo are attempting. This will enable brands to stand out and stand up as they fight for both relevance and integrity.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few things to think about as you are building your next generation of brands and experiences. Look forward to seeing you in the fall to talk about what is next for 2019.