How Big Data analysis and brand storytelling can work together

24th Nov 2014

Walking down any street in the UK, we can see the intelligent use of Big Data by consumers. It might be following a map, price checking a product or ‘googling’ the answer to a question from their everyday conversation. Consumers know there is an excess of information available to them to answer their needs, but do not feel the need to collect and scrutinise reams of data; they are getting to the point quickly, simply and speedily. They start with the end goal in mind. This is the mindset that we need to employ when looking at Big Data analysis; a single minded approach to extracting the useful and actionable insights from the terabytes of data available.

Before committing to any Big Data analysis, organisations should ask themselves are they clear on what goals they are trying to reach? And in order to answer that they need a clear customer and business strategy. Why? Well it’s clarity of purpose that informs the questions to ask in order for any analysis, especially Big Data analysis, to be effective. Without that, however sophisticated the analytical dashboard or however fast the analysis can be produced, there is a danger of a plethora of charts and bar graphs, with CEOs and marketing directors taking comfort in the latest dashboard they’ve been handed.

But in reality, very little real and actionable insight for a business to enact. Brands can become bogged-down in the visualisation of data analysis, when the key aim of the exercise is to extract the information that identifies and informs the activities that will really make a difference to the overall success of the business. And at the heart of this success will be the use of big data to deliver a benefit, not just to the business, but equally importantly, to the customer.

The companies that will win when it comes to Big Data analysis have a clear strategy in place and the right people to identify the questions to be asked to extract the best insights. It’s a successful formula that Amazon and Google have been building on for years.

Tesco were also at the forefront of using data to drive a customer-centric approach. With Dunnhumby sitting at the heart of the data driven solution that enabled Clubcard to be such a groundbreaking scheme when it launched in the 90s. But it’s evident that in recent years Tesco’s customer-centricity has waned. Tesco no longer seem to be sure of what story their brand is telling their customers. The application of data to deliver a programme of price/value driven vouchers isn’t enough. Big data analysis is not just a way of understanding your numbers, but a way of telling your brand story and placing customers at the heart of that.

Brand storytelling is essentially communicating. It’s something we do every day, whether we are conscious of it or not. From an email, to a body posture, we are constantly communicating to those around us and every moment is an opportunity to tell our story. This is an innate human need, something we do via reflex, rather than consciously. So why should brands behave differently when communicating? The answer is they shouldn’t. To reach a consumer in a way that is non-interruptive and enriching is a goal all marketers should strive for.

Emotive and engaging

Brand storytelling should be emotive and engaging. It needs to grab the attention of consumers, while informing them about your product or service. Emotive and engaging might not be words normally associated with data. However, the information we can gain from Big Data analysis is extremely personal and can give us insights in to the wants, needs and desires of our consumers. Care should be taken in how the information extracted from big data analysis is applied to communication efforts. Marketers must use these insights to deliver more personalised and less intrusive marketing to consumers. Providing them with the right information at the right time. In a way that resonates with their own wishes, to subtly inform and educate them during their interactions with the brand.

Using Big Data analysis to tell your brands story is something that any brand can do, as long as they have a little creative spark and some sound knowledge of how to interpret the results. By looking at how your consumers think, feel and interact with your brand, you can tap into something and forge an emotive connection that will carry your brand to the front of mind in the consideration process, making your brand memorable for all the right reasons.

The possibilities afforded by Big Data analysis are limitless. New approaches and techniques are being developed all the time that are extremely exciting. But the smart creative marketers amongst us are remaining focused. Using insights gleaned from effective big data analysis, guided by clear customer and business strategy and combining them with the practice of storytelling. It’s a powerful way for any brand to make its data work harder and smarter.

Delivering creative marketing to consumers that will build desire and respect for your brand. A desire and respect founded on your ability to build experiences that your customers not only find engaging but that they also value.

Liz Barnsdale is managing director of ais London.

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