Thoughts. News. Opinions.

6 strategic considerations when planning your data brand

The amount of data will only increase. Thus, will the opportunity for utilization. The regulation is halting slowly behind. But whilst most organizations are dodging the data dilemma and reactively minimizing their data usage, only a few progressive organizations emerge and seize the prospect of communicating about data as a new differentiator in the marked through data branding. Here are 6 strategic considerations to keep in mind when planning your data brand.


1. The data brand has to begin by answering your big data-WHY?

High credibility, a strong brand and a good value proposition are crucial elements when a company requests access to certain personal data sets. Can the company tell me why they want to handle and excel my data, besides wanting to make a profit?

The company has to be able to elegantly and reciprocally incorporate the added values the user will get for sharing their data when answering the big why. And the company has to be able to explain the specific and defined purpose for collecting the data, and the time frame for keeping it, in a transparent, easy to understand, relevant and yet engaging way.

Example: Grundfos is a B2B corporation that has found their data-WHY. Grundfos was just a water pump manufacturer a few years back. Today, they are solving the world’s water- and energy problems. They do this through their use of IoT, which gives them dynamic information from pumps around the world and a close to real time relation with the end user.

Through data of people’s water usage, Grundfos can ensure the water supply in Africa, which then does not become a utility for corruption and power struggles. And it is probably easier to win the big contracts in Asia and get the best employees from America when you’re solving the world’s water problems, instead of just being a water pump manufacturer from Denmark. Data can be used for a greater purpose and for B2B companies to go from being a product brand to a solid data brand with new data services.


2. The data brand should build a value-based win-win data relationship with the customers

The customers will give their data to the companies they trust. Most Danish companies can’t offer the same amount of free services as Google or Facebook in return for data. The customers might even have to pay for the service and share their data at the same time. In order to make them do so, there has to be a greater purpose and some sort of extra value added.

The customers will be a central part of the company’s growth in the data driven world.

You can’t just keep valuable unstructured data from customers floating around in customer service. Data has to be moved into the organization’s core. But you have to provide added value in order for people to share more data.

Example: Amazon has become a major corporation due to the fact that they have built a strong data relationship with the customers. The customer has shared data and gotten something in return. A transaction of privacy and value, that makes sense for the user.


3. The data brand has to practice privacy-by-design to the fullest

GDPR introduces the data subject and states the consumers right to their own data and protection. This adds extra administrative work for organizations but is fundamentally in the best interest of all citizens. Almost all customers have less trust in companies that have broken the GDPR regulation, and around 50 percent wouldn’t buy their products.

So it is, of course, important to be in compliance with the regulation in a branding context. But it is really about going the extra mile and do more than what GDPR demands, which then can be used to elevate one’s position in the marked.

Example: Pension funds could benefit from building a transparent consent-based universe that provides an overview of the customer’s financial situation. It should not only be a GDPR-compliant universe, but a user-controlled data universe, that might even enable the customer to discover the financial benefits in moving some of their savings into an annuity account etc. An added value like this could be exploited to the fullest in the pension company’s data brand.

Source: Marketing Week


4. The data brand has to kill Big Brother

Surveillance and unscrupulous usage of data against the interest of the customer/citizen, and for the sole benefit of the state/company, is an extremely bad branding position. And there’s a growing number of stories of how daunting data misusage can be.

A strong data brand is not only communicating how data is collected and used, but why there has been a conscious choice not to use e.g. a facial recognition system – but SoMe-data instead. This is a part of creating a customer centered value position that in no way revolves around surveillance. Data branding in about progressively communicating choices and opt-outs.

Example: The “The Chinese case” is Big Brother gone wrong. It shows how a massive distribution of surveillance cameras with facial recognition systems makes it easy for the government to find those they consider criminal.


5. The data brand has to be completely ethical. Ethics-by-design

The law is one thing. Everyone has to follow the GDPR. Ethics are something much more than rules. It’s about all the extra things you do because we as a society find it right or wrong. And the thought of an ethically responsible company is not new. CSR is an old discipline.

But the data brand is to a greater extend built on what Michael Porter and Mark Kramer described as “creating shared value”. The data brand has to be soaked in ethics. And the CSR department could eventually be closed down since ethics has to be naturally built in everywhere.

But just like greenwashing, “data-ethic-washing” is also a thing. Where some companies make a great effort to actually minimize waste, CO2 emissions etc. in every aspect of operation, some greenwashed companies simply just promote a couple of green ideas that looks good on paper.

An actual data ethical company is able to brand themselves on their good initiatives and activities. Whereas the ethic-washed companies can be recognized by their complete lack of evidence of any real actions taken, whilst having some good sounding statements of principles. It is therefore important for companies and organizations to incorporate the ethics into the culture of the company, and aim towards having ethics-by-design, where ethics are integrated into every process and data relations.


6. The data brand has to relate to the MyData-movement

If we glance into the nearest future, we’ll quickly realize that a part of what will characterize the digital world will be the “MyData”-industry.

The strongest data brand will not be the ones who just asks the users to give “an informed consent” after haven read three long pages of privacy policy or just clicked OK to get the information they were really just searching for on the website. The strongest data brands will get a “trust-based consent” from the customer, who is of the core belief that the company has a wholesome and responsible way of processing the data and a greater motive to do so.

Example: Hub of All Things (HAT) is a great example of a service that allows the users to administrate all of their own data, and companies can get access to it through them. Platform companies create secure data libraries that collect the individual’s personal data from the health care system, social media, behavioral data from Fitbit watches and other sensors and more – in one secure “data bank”.

It is then up the individual user to share their data with those companies and authorities that in return give the users added value. And it is only going to be the strongest data brands that will receive access to the client’s data, when we move towards the MyData-movement’s Me2B-paradigm.