The BrandTech Stack4 minute read
The BrandTech stack is one of three major components in the broader MarTech stack (BrandTech, AdTech and DemandTech). BrandTech is the set of software solutions that enable brand marketers and channel support organizations (web, social, etc.) to efficiently plan, create, communicate and measure brand activity.
We think of the stack as having a 'top' and a 'bottom', where the top focuses on the designing and creation of brand assets, as well as the tooling to automate content publishing and ongoing communications. The bottom focuses on analyzing market signals to understand the effectivity of different digital channels, messages, and brand design choices.
PLAN, CREATE & OPERATE
The creative authoring suites are a collection of applications used by graphic designers, web developers, photographers, web developers, etc. to design and manage creative assets. These tools are used to bring brand personalities to life, focusing on design elements, colors, patterns, marks, icons, shapes, use of space and overall imagery that identify the brand.
The digital publishing suites are similar to content management packages but focus on media. These solutions reduce the effort to create high end digital magazines. The software also allows creators to adapt their content to different devices and formats.
Social Media Marketing
The social media marketing solutions enable companies to easily plan, author, and distribute content across multiple networks. The software enables workflow approvals across the team to ensure proper governance including following brand style. The solutions will either offer a basic social listening module, or they'll integrate with a specialty vendor.
Audience Profiling & Intelligence
Audience profiling / segmentation solutions enable brands to group like-minded buyers together. This enables the tailoring of messages for a subgroup. The groupings are typically based on demographic, or psychographic attributes.
Influencer marketing solutions maintain databases of influencers across a variety of markets. Users are able to recruit influencers, collaborate on strategies, facilitate payment, and monitor the results of the efforts via reporting and analytics solutions.
Digital Asset Management
Digital asset management solutions help organizations centralize the storage and management of their creative assets. The offerings also typically include modules to manage and publish brand guidelines, automate asset workflows and approvals (i.e., brand team review), and use pre-built templates.
Modern content management and marketing systems focus on the authoring, storage and distribution of branded content. Companies like HubSpot initially emphasized 'inbound marketing' but have since moved into outbound demand generation as well. Hence, many of these solutions bridge the BrandTech/DemandTech pillars.
Online Community Management
Community management software is used to establish a deeper relationship between the buyer and the seller, both before and after purchase. The communities are used to educate buyers, listen to their feedback, and discuss solutions to problems. The goal is to increase the depth of the relationship with the brand, grow loyalty and promote vocal advocates.
The brand safety vendors straddle the BrandTech and AdTech spaces as they seek to ensure that advertisements don't conflict with the image a brand intends to convey. This includes ensuring that a brand's ads are not associated with Not Safe For Work sites and content that doesn't align with their brand purpose or mission (e.g., politics).
Customer Data & Personalization
Customer data & personalization platforms collect information about buyers, their interests, and preferences so brands can present the right message at the right time. CDP's collect gobs of data from many data sources and integrate it together, capturing a profile (think cohort) of a customer.
For high consideration items, virtual events have become a preferred mechanism to bring buyers and sellers together. The solutions scale from basic webinars to full virtual conferences, with multiple tracks, breakout rooms, Q&A support, interactive chat, and post-event analytics. After the event is over, there's an opportunity to 'keep the conversation going' and the more modern platforms are integrating online community management solutions into their offering. The goal is to drive brand interest and consideration during the event, and to drive brand loyalty and advocacy after the event.
LEARN, MEASURE & IMPROVE
Unified Brand Intelligence
Historically, branders would ask the PR team about their reach, and the CX team about brand reputation, and the social team about online sentiment, and the web team if the new message was driving traffic, and the CI team about competitor activity, etc. Capturing brand health was costly, time consuming and often inaccurate.
Unified Brand Intelligence integrates directly into channels to get the data needed to make strategic decisions. The solutions provide visibility into brand awareness, interest, preference, and perceptions. The data is used to continuously update brand decisions and channel investments.
Media monitoring is an older category (pre-Internet). Today, the focus is largely on identifying brand mentions from online news sources. Some solutions now cover broadcast media, podcasts, and social media.
Content Intelligence solutions provide insights into the content that is being produced throughout the Web. The emphasis is on discovering new and interesting content to share with your team and facilitate new idea generation. The solutions help brand marketers more rapidly create current and relevant content.
Rating, Reviews & Reputation
Buyers use ratings and review sites to understand who the competitors are in a category, as well as to find the leaders. The reviews are a form of social proof that bring comfort to buyers in their purchase journey. From a brand perspective, the data is considered part of 'brand reputation' and overall sentiment.
The Competitive Intelligence (CI) solutions aren't strictly a "brand" tool, as they're typically used by product marketing teams to feed insights to their sales teams. Some brand teams use CI tools to view the creative assets and messages produced by competitors.
Social Intelligence (aka, Social Listening) solutions brand activity on social media. This typically includes: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Reddit. Their analysis is on posts, reactions (likes, shares, etc.), embedded URL's, influencers, trending content, and follower counts.
Web & SEO Intelligence
Web analytics and search engine optimization might seem like they have nothing to do with brand - but the truth is quite the opposite. If your goal is to put your wonderfully crafted messages and artistic assets in front of the buyer - but they land on page 12 in search, you've already lost. Branders can imagine all the right 'Jobs to be Done' or 'Category Entry Points' - but if they don't translate into search keywords, the work will go unnoticed.
Brand Surveys and Panels
Finding out what people think is no easy task. Perhaps the easiest way is to just ask them - and that's what the survey packages have been doing for decades. Most large survey companies now offer a standard 'brand tracker' survey that asks questions about brand awareness and perceptions.
Attribution and Marketing Mix Modeling
Multi-touch attribution and marketing mix modeling solutions help marketers understand which digital channels are performing. Quite literally, they "attribute" the success of a campaign to an upstream digital channel. After attribution data is collected, decisions can be made on how to plan future investments to maximize returns. These solutions support both 'brand' and 'demand' but are more focused on the bottom of the marketing funnel.
The BrandTech stack has become a much more predominant element in marketing solutions. AdTech and DemandTech remain important elements - but their use and features seem to have stabilized. The ongoing privacy-driven tech changes are reducing the effectiveness of performance marketing, pushing more people to double-down on brand. We encourage marketers to start by creating a baseline of their brand (immediately), and then monitor and analyze it relative to competitors over the long haul. Brand intelligence MUST go beyond short-lived campaign metrics.