How to grow your brand ecosystem

Flipping your textbook pages back to elementary school science class, you may or may not remember an important unit on ecosystems, in which students are taught how communities of living organisms interact with their environments. Working as a system, all components of an ecosystem are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows, each part contributing to the system’s overall operation.

Never did I anticipate that these learnings in 5th grade might come in handy years later in the world of consumer marketing, but in many ways every underwater or tree-top ecosystem is much like its own high-functioning brand.

How? Like an ecosystem, a brand must make sure every component works in harmony to help maintain a distinct brand personality. Each piece of content, tweet, application, user experience, email and online post helps contribute to a brand’s image, drive purchases, create loyal customers and ultimately customers. In order for the brand to operate successfully as a whole, all components of the “ecosystem” need to be running in sync and at optimal performance.

So, how would you start to grow your brand’s ecosystem? Begin by assessing your brand’s current capabilities and evaluating the use of existing resources. Then, gather a better understanding of where your brand stands within the larger, competitive business environment.

Try taking a look at:

  • The data infrastructure: How is your brand leveraging data? What do you know about your customers? Is your data actionable for real-time messaging across digital channels?
  • Site infrastructure: What is your brand built to do today? Where will it be tomorrow? What is its staying power five, ten or 25 years from now?
  • Applications: What set of functionality exists and how portable is it? What’s your brand enabling in consumers’ lives?
  • Campaign measurement: How are you managing your brand’s campaign information? How have campaigns performed in the past? Is there room for improvement?

Having established a clear understanding of your brand’s current performance, you’ll be in a good position to create a new platform from which to engage consumers in a more personalized brand experience. Aim to build a world that immerses consumers in the brand through both emotional experience as well as contextual engagement. The emotion provides the ‘why’ I’m feeling this way about a brand, while the contextual drives the ‘what’ I’m doing in connection with the brand. Creating a place where they are brought to life both emotionally and contextually will allow for a consumer’s full immersion into your brand’s newly formed “ecosystem”.