How does digitalisation impact on your brand management?

Creativity, pragmatism, service focus, innovation, user experience – when it comes to branding and digitalisation, we all know the standard catchwords. But what do these concepts actually mean in reality for businesses? How do companies go about changing how they think? What changes do they make to how they manage their brands? According to the „German Brand Monitor 2019/2020“ (“Deutscher Markenmonitor”), a study published by the German Design Council and GMK Markenberatung, transferring a brand into the digital world is the biggest challenge for 38% of companies surveyed – more than any other issue .*

* Survey conducted among 287 B2B and B2C companies; multiple responses possible.

Many businesses and agencies are already experimenting with exciting new ways to meld brand management with digitalisation, and their efforts are meeting with success. Below we’ve put together a series of statements taken from conversations held with German Brand Award winners from past competitions. They provide valuable insights into the practice of brand management.


Portrait von Annette Becker, Brand Managerin of the Year 2019
Dr. Annette Becker, Senior Vice President Business Unit Home & Garden, Robert Bosch Power Tools GmbH

Dr. Annette Becker, Robert Bosch Power Tools GmbH, Brand Manager of the Year 2019

“Digitisation is a great opportunity to offer services with added value that go beyond the tool itself. The most prominent example of a networked product from our company is our Indego robot mower. The Indego is not just a networked product; it is also the first device in which we use artificial intelligence. This enables it to cope better with certain situations over time, such as detecting obstacles on a lawn. Our vision is that each Indego learns and makes individual decisions in its own environment. Then every user can say: I have the best Indego for my garden! We will continue to make consistent use of networking possibilities in the future; this is a very exciting topic, especially in gardens.”

Bosch Thermotechnik GmbH, Corporate Brand of the Year 2019

Dr. Ralf Steinbach, Vice President Marketing und Brand Management, Bosch Thermotechnik GmbH:

“Strong brands have qualities which are universal and can be separated from technology: they create identity, they provide recognisability, and they generate trust. It will come as no surprise that the environments in which brands operate has changed a lot due to digitalisation. Here’s an example from our industry: In the past, it was largely the heating installers themselves who were responsible for deciding which brand products got installed in the end consumer’s home or facility. Today, 85% of end consumers actively use the internet to research heating units before they buy one. We are constantly adapting our brand in response to new developments, but taking care at the same time not to change its core essence.”

comdirect bank AG, Employer Brand of the Year 2019

Christian Wendrock-Prechtl, Senior Vice President User Interface, comdirect bank AG:

“comdirect has been different from other banks from the very beginning. We don’t have business hours – we’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We don’t have branch locations. Our customers can reach us from anywhere in the world. We have established affordable online brokerage in Germany. So, as you can see, comdirect has been consistently using digitalisation to its advantage ever since it was founded, and we will continue to do so in the future. In recent years banking has shifted from online to mobile. At comdirect, “mobile first” is how we think now.”

Interbrand, Agency of the Year 2019

Jens Grefen, Executive Director Creation, Interbrand:

“The world has changed, it’s that simple. And it will continue to change in significant ways – because of digitalisation, as well as other factors. Everything is faster now, our needs as people are changing, and so is how we live and how we consume. This also affects how people interact with brands. Here’s an example: People use their phones to pay for things now, so they don’t carry their bank cards with them. Cash is as good as dead, and people hardly go to the bank any more. Yet banking continues to be essential. But what does this mean for banks? How can brands assert themselves in this world? At a fundamental level, we see brands as the interface between people and businesses. This means that brand managers today need to understand the brand interface, and strengthen brand interaction by understanding the customers’ expectations  and shaping their brand experience accordingly. This goes way beyond “traditional” brand management.”

Lufthansa AG, Corporate Brand of the Year 2018

Nicole Mies, Head of Brand & Marketing Communication Strategy, Lufthansa Group:

“Digitalisation has certainly brought about changes in brand management. Now that all touch points and all communication need to be made faster, more dynamic and more individual, the goal of the brand is not merely to react, but to actively create, to give clear answers and to take leadership. In our case, we’ve made refinements to individual design elements and optimised them in light of current demands; but at the same time, we’ve also created a system based on principles which enables us to operate as an agile platform. We interact with stakeholders, agencies and users to test our products in the early phases of development, so as to learn, and, if necessary, to make quick changes.”

ZF & Jung von Matt, Digital Transformation of the Year 2018

Thomas Deigendesch, Managing Partner, Jung von Matt:

“ZF has both mechanical and digital excellence at its core. So it was essential for our image to not only convey this digital expertise in a tangible way, but also to translate it into the user experience. Every element, application and implementation has been conceived with digital use in mind, and then later adapted for the analogue world.”

Philipp Braun, Head of Advertising & Corporate Design, ZF Friedrichshafen AG:

“ZF is a system supplier for smart mobility, and we are a leader in the digitalisation of mechanical components. Our new look enables us to visually embody ZF’s role as a technology leader. In combination, the newly created branding elements are able to do justice to the myriad applications offered by digital media, without losing their individual incisiveness.”

AXENT, Newcomer Brand of the Year 2017

Nicole Roesler, Brand Ambassador, AXENT Switzerland:

“Digitalisation is at the core of our brand. With our slogan “WISDOM FOR LIFE”, we create innovative, smart, networked solutions for bathrooms. These days it’s not enough to focus solely on producing a nice-looking product, i.e. just worrying about the hardware. In the era of Industry 4.0, delivering digital, networked solutions is the name of the game. At AXENT we are working on ground breaking, revolutionary solutions. You can expect to see plenty of exciting and innovative new developments coming out of AXENT. But that’s all I can say for now …”


More insights: The German Brand and Design Congress 2019

Hungry for more best-practice examples and talks on brand management? On 14 November 2019, the German Design Council will present the German Brand and Design Congress 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. This industry event provides attendees the opportunity to set up firm meetings in advance with other guests, including industry contacts, speakers and members of the German Design Council Foundation. To learn more about the speakers and topics of this year’s Congress, sign up on the B2B matchmaking platform Converve and start benefiting today from the networking and knowledge transfer opportunities.

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