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Embracing the digital shift in consumer branding

9 October 2020 12 min read

Our series currently explores the role of digitalisation and its impact on brand-building in key industries such as Real Estate , Banking and Finance and Telco and Technology. This week, we explore the digital shift in Consumer Branding.

As the world continues to deal with the effects of the Covid19 pandemic, the impact of the crisis has certainly made a compelling case for the shift to digital and even accelerating that change for many industries. In Asia, digital transformation has always made sense but adoption rates vary across countries depending on infrastructure and the ability to take on the sheer size of task. The shift to digital is a necessity and no longer a nice-to-have. Based on consumers’ heavy reliance on digital in the last few months alone, it is clear that the benefits outweigh the effort, however overwhelming.

Today, consumers are holding brands to an even higher standard than ever. Brand purpose and consumer empowerment are the two focus areas of business regarded to affect meaningful change. To do this authentically, it is vital to have a good grasp of what your brand represents to be able to deliver a message you believe in. Pre-pandemic, brands have been expected to provide authentic sustainability experiences that convey a deeper sense of purpose and ultimately build belief in the future. This carries on into current consumer expectations where responsible and authentic brand marketing resonate and are rewarded best.

Prioritising the customer-brand relationship

Digital transformation has transformed consumer habits, from daily interactions, shopping and e-commerce, mobile payments and social networking. In Asia, we’re seeing new applications in the mobile experience, e-commerce, AR visualization, interactive brand campaigns and face-scanning technology. Advances in vending machine technology are being made with cashless payment and on-line ordering of  ready to eat meals.

The benefits of digital branding are clear: Multi-channel reach, virality, interaction and overall better connections with consumers. In a future that seems uncertain, digitalisation brings brands closer to people and strengthens the customer-brand relationship.

In consumer branding, this shift has been most identifiable in the growth of new media and reflected in the way advertising forms and roles have diversified. This enables a brand story to be told through formats that resonate with customers best. Consumers today are much more active in the brand marketing communications process whose major role is to develop and strengthen customer relations. Connectivity radically changes this — what should warrant the most attention is how brands are currently establishing connections in the digital world.

Overall, consumers are seeking connected experiences and brands that both provide and fulfill this need will survive. Let’s dive into some examples of brands whose high regard for sustainability and strong online engagement add value to the customer journey:

SATS Home Chef Branding & Packaging, Singapore and Hong Kong

Feeding Asia with a brand of healthy and convenient meals

Brand design & strategy – brand identities, language, visuals, packaging, sustainability

SATS is the the chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Country Foods is a subsidiary of SATS and known as the go-to-market partner for sustainable and innovative food solutions to Singapore and Asia

A new product line called Home Chef arose from the opportunity to create a new B2B4C product line aligned with SATS’ company vision of “Feeding & Connecting Asia.” This further translated into an online e-commerce opportunity in China for ready-to-eat meals as well as a conceptual application of a stand-alone vending machine.

Given the project scope across Singapore and Greater China, two brand identities were created — one in English and a bilingual that used English and Chinese. The project was also an example of how different naming conventions for the same brand is sometimes necessary but can still be united through the use of symbols. For the English-language markets for example, “Prepared from the heart” landed well thus the preferred name “Home Chef” while for the Chinese-language markets, the brand name was derived from Country Foods. Uniting the two was the concept of “with love” pertaining to the way food is prepared, which was translated into a visual language with relevant symbols across both.

The overall brand identity and strategy translated well for the consumer market as seen on the final e-commerce site. Delicious, on-the-go meals need not be unhealthy while also imparting a feeling of warmth from the heart and home. Attributes relating to warm home-cooked meal were carried through in the product photography, clean brand packaging, handwritten typography and minimal packaging.

A conceptual design for a vending machine showed how the application of a strong brand identity can influence consumer behaviour and promote brand ideals, in this case, convenient on-the-go meals can impart a feeling of home and need not be unhealthy.

SATS Blu Branding & Packaging, Singapore

A B2B commodity brand creates demand from end customers through smart packaging

Brand design and strategy to boost brand prestige and tell a sustainability story

As a business that clearly understands the role of design and strategy in conveying an impactful brand story, SATS sought to develop a B2B4C brand for their bottled water product. The challenge was to create a premium brand out of a commodity product. Aimed at elevating airline passengers’ in-flight experience, they looked at extending beyond the aviation sector and reach institutional and commercial catering customers — boosting overall brand prestige.

The first move was to configure a smart packaging design solution for more economical transportation. Moving away from round bottles solved the problem of inconvenient storage and management of inventory. Following a series of refinements to the ‘Blu’ identity, a premium solution is set to elevate the perceived value of the SATS brand to both customers and also consumers.

Purchasing choices are instinctive and branding helps products stand out in retail environments. Furthermore, a deeper sustainability story can be told through design, aligning with current expectations for a sustainable experience. In this case, efficient packaging married with sophisticated design elevates the experience of a commodity product.

The Meatery Brand Experience, Singapore

A traditional trade transforms into an inspiring culinary concept

Brand visuals, concept space and animated digital content for investment presentations to drive business expansion through organic growth.

Meat Up is a premium halal butchery located in one of Singapore’s largest suburban neighborhoods. The brand’s proprietor, Cesare Cantarella, is a veteran chef and artisanal butcher who is passionate about good quality meat and saw the opportunity to create an authentic culinary experience beyond retail.

The F&B category in Singapore is extremely competitive. Beyond satisfying very diverse and discerning palates, new market entrants must consider location given high rental and property rates in Singapore as well as accessibility. Brands must make sense within the context they exist in; as such, Meat Up first needed to observe lifestyle and dining trends in the area in order to align with the profile of demand.

Guided by their core values of originality and quality, an in-depth brand strategy laid the foundation in order to elevate the brand from an entry-level supplier of halal meat into a premium purveyor of inspiring experiences. Meat Up’s clear vision translated into bold interior design and digital touch-points that complemented the brand’s physical facelift.

In order to further differentiate as a premium butcher, the website also served as a platform to relay expertise in the dry aged meat technique they aimed to be known for. This illustrates that if you have a good concept and even greater grasp of what your brand represents, your digital communications become a vehicle for delivering a message you believe in and complement growth driven through word-of-mouth.

Diners can opt for communal dine-in or take home fresh cuts of meat to cook at home — always with cooking tips from the friendly staff whose attention to service and detail elevate the brand experience further. From inviting, sophisticated interiors and a cohesive visual identity online and in their physical storefront, the transformation certainly conveys Meat Up as a place where food is a sensory experience best enjoyed in the company of others.


Participation and purpose as the new benchmark for consumer branding

By fusing strategy, sustainability, design and digital expertise, brands can thrive and endure in times of crisis or not. At Sedgwick Richardson, we believe in leveraging branding as your foundation for long-term growth to convey value, resilience and relevance and purpose. In today’s digital world, seeking ways to become more purposeful online is the expected norm. For consumer brands — aside from listening and learning in order to drive customer action, there is a much bigger role to be played in today’s society in order to build belief in the future. You’ll be remembered for it.

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