The Business Case for Brand as a Platform

The most successful and valuable brands in the world are becoming platforms. This means that the brand promise is built around the consumer need; is fulfilled at every interaction; is consistent and perpetual; and is powered by technology. Take a look at Apple, the most valuable company of all time. They have become so successful because they built their entire organization around the consumer and brand experience. Their products are superb and highly connected to the ecosystem of the Apple brand. Their service, support and even packaging all tell the same story and elicit the same emotional response. Apple isn’t just a brand that sells products, it’s a platform that enables their consumers lives. 

Apple isn’t just a brand that sells products, it’s a platform that enables their consumers lives.

Apple didn’t get to this point by accident. It was a specific, focused effort that has brought them here. And there are no signs of slowing, only evolution. Depending on your situation with your brand, you may be skeptical on performing the transformation for your brand towards a platform, but you shouldn’t. The proof is in the numbers. 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about how to enable a brand as a platform. Now we’ll show you why.

The Business Case for Brand as a Platform

The Brand as a Platform model focuses brand growth through retention, loyalty and advocacy as the core drivers. The cost to keep a customer is far less than it is to create one. However, in today’s economy the simple act of doing what it takes to keep a customer is inherently sharable and public, which increases reach in the most authentic way. This approach also allows you to manage growth continuously, not just through planned campaigns. As we see in the diagram below, we see the lifecycle of a customer over the lifetime. This model focuses on lifetime value, not single-purchase and defect value.


A key element of brand as a platform is the experience that is delivered to the consumer. The experience that a brand provides will soon become the key purchase decision for many products and services, even more than price and efficacy. This experience happens in multiple ways over the course of the relationship between brand and consumer. 

Harvard Business Review did a study on the value of customer experience. They found that: 

  • Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.
  • A member who rates as having the poorest experience has only a 43% chance of being a member a year later. Compare this to a member who gives one of the top two experience scores — they would have a 74% chance of remaining a member for at least another year.

Another great result for brands as platforms is the rate of referrals or word of mouth from engaged and loyal customers. According to Forrester, “customers who have a better experience with a company say they’re less likely to stop doing business with the company and more likely to recommend it.” And as we’ve known for the last 30 years that this form of marketing is the most powerful and most successful in terms of new customer acquisition. 

In addition to driving incremental sales, brand as a platform companies see a reduction in customer services costs. Which further increases the satisfaction levels for consumers while increasing the margins to deliver the product or service. 

...delivering great experiences actually reduces the cost to serve customers from what it was previously. Unhappy customers are expensive — being, for example, more likely to return products or more likely to require support. Systematically solve the source of dissatisfaction, you don’t just make them more likely to return — you reduce the amount they cost you to serve. For example, Sprint has gone on record as suggesting that as part of their focus on improving the customer experience, they’ve managed to reduce their customer care costs by as much as 33%.
— Harvard Business Review

All in all, the transformation of brands to platforms is not only great for the consumer, it’s great for the business as well. As we’re seeing the effectiveness of advertising waning and the growth rate of most industries stalling or declining, we need a new solution. Brand as a Platform is the next phase in our businesses future. We need to embrace it now so we can start to grow again. 


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