I was having lunch with an assistant professor of machine learning recently, when he asked me why, as a brand and design specialist, I was so interested in data?
My reply was quite simple. If you want to take ownership of your brand and control how it develops and grows, then you must understand and own your data too. And I didn’t have to look too far for an example.
I’d invited my friend to have lunch to discuss some of the more advanced aspects of data science, so I booked a table at a restaurant he suggested, followed up the booking with a confirmation the day before our lunch, and then as the host I would pay for the meal with my credit card and walk off into the afternoon skyline.
Right away you can see there were three times where the restaurant, let’s call the restaurant the ‘brand owner,’ had an opportunity to talk to and engage with me personally using simple digital tools including email.
But even though the restaurant, based in the university area of Belfast, has a website and an established social media presence, it had simply handed over its online booking process to a third-party system, which had not only handled the booking but had generated a generic confirmation email and sent a reminder of the booking the day before our lunch. In short the brand owner decided it was more practical and efficient to hand over my data to someone else, and failed to take the opportunity to have direct contact with me.
So when you consider that the only remaining opportunity to engage with me was also missed, it was Visa that handled the card transaction, you see a total failure to digitally engage or communicate with a client, even one who has eaten your well-prepared food and had an important business meeting while sitting at one of your tables.
This restaurant is an example of a brand that doesn’t own its own brand data – a brand that fails to fully reach its customers and own the conversation.
Of course most of the world’s bars and restaurants work like this, and much of the world’s service transactions happen with an even greater degree of customer anonymity.
But if you want to really own your brand, why not think about owning as much of the brand data and the interaction that surrounds your brand as you can.
If you own the data you can own the conversation and frame that conversation in a way that suits you. It means working that bit harder and that bit smarter, but it’s an approach that can add real value to your brand and to your business.