Business Models to Solve Your Brand Promise

The idea of a “business model” can be taken to mean many things to many different people. It can be as simple as how you make money to as complex as how your operating processes, supply chain, service, product development, marketing, consumer experiences, and retail all work together to achieve a goal of revenue growth (and hopefully do some good in the world). But there are two things for sure that come to mind when discussing business models and basic economics, how to build demand (sales) while providing the appropriate supply (product). As we’ve seen over the last two decades, digital has changed pretty much everything we’ve come to know about both the supply and demand sides of business models.

The proliferation of the internet and digital technologies has created new demand models through new entrants that have started to disrupt entire industries. The world of lean and on-demand manufacturing, connected inventory systems and rapid logistics has provided a new way to provide value to consumers across an entire supply chain. Put those together with new pricing and value models of one-for-one, variable pricing and subscription, and you have a new world that we’ve never experienced before. All of these variables are being driven by some sort of digital evolution and all are open to be used by any company to create new business models.

The idea of a business model in today’s world should be focused around continuously expanding value between a company and its consumer over the course of the relationship.

The idea of a business model in today’s world should be focused around continuously expanding value between a company and its consumer over the course of the relationship. This value is created through efficiency in both time and cost as well as enhanced services based on interaction. In any case, we need to be able to understand the holistic consumer experience, the moments within the experience and how digital is powering it as we plan the evolution of our business models.

For good and bad, this does open us up to a new world of competition. One where our companies are in direct competition with verticals outside of our own (Amazon v Burberry). The models and value that is created in other verticals can directly affect what our consumers expect from our company. On the flip side, we’re also in a competitive landscape where we can determine our own destiny by creating a value proposition where we only compete against ourselves. By building strong relationships with our consumers we can find new ways to serve them in new ways in new industries. As Benedict Evans said, “saying that you’re aiming for x% of a $ybn industry is unambitious - great companies change the y, not the x.” How can our company change the y?

So, what do we do with all this change? Here are just a few ways digital is changing business models and things to consider when looking at your own.


Product Development: Digital has opened a new world of product development. The companies that are doing it best are using consumer feedback and data to evolve their product development cycle. New manufacturing techniques are minimizing go to market lead times.

Access v Ownership: The sharing economy is in full force and disrupting industry after industry: Uber in auto, Airbnb in hospitality, Rent the Runway in fashion. Consumer behaviors are shifting in a way that look for micro-moments of indulgence or utility vs long term ownership of a particular product or experience.

Logistics: On demand delivery has shattered brick and mortar retail. But there are major opportunities for companies to succeed with both. Looking at ways to encourage trial while providing on demand delivery for core products and services can deliver incremental value across the entire consumer experience.

Inventory Systems: The behavior of shopping has turned into an always on activity with mobile devices in every pocket. The idea of physical inventory and choice has shifted in a way that too much choice can become a burden. Finding the appropriate mix to meet demand will create a better consumer experience while minimizing cost throughout the supply chain.


Consumer Experience: The companies that are growing now are the companies that have figured out how to immerse their consumers into a continual branded experience across digital, physical, and human. Companies like Warby Parker and Amazon started with designing the consumer experience first then providing value second and using data to back up all decisions. Defining and designing a holistic branded consumer experience is crucial to business model success in the future.

Pricing Models: Pricing has changed dramatically with consumer behavior. Whether subscription models for companies like BirchBox or Trunk Club to variable pricing based on demand like Uber to flash sales like Gilt, pricing can become a major differentiator for the consumer relationship and driving profit.

Marketing & Advertising: The idea of marketing and advertising continues to change every day. As advertising becomes more splintered and the success rates continuing to decline, major companies are moving to the value proposition of making product so good you don’t need advertising. Tesla has done a tremendous job at doing just this. Their product is built in a way that the software updates creates moments of conversation and earned exposure so they don’t have to spend money in advertising. P&G is even looking at moving to this model.

There are millions of variables and avenues to be taken into consideration when thinking about the future of your business model. But the main thing is to create a model that fulfills your brand promise to your consumer. Once that is defined and you have a solid view of a holistic consumer experience, the other decisions fall into place.

We’d love to hear how you’re solving for this in your organization.