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Bruce Temkin: "Brands are Dying"

Posted by: Helen Walters on March 2, 2009

I’m in San Francisco, at the MX conference, an annual event purporting to explain the business value of design. Up on stage this morning? Forrester VP and principal analyst, Bruce Temkin, who talked of the need for companies to buy into “experience-based differentiation.” His top tips for executives?

— Obsess about customer needs
— Reinforce the brand with every communication
— Treat customer experience as a core competency, not merely a function

One other point he made in his talk which caught my ear: “brands are dying.” I caught up with him after his presentation to ask him to explain more.

Bruce Temkin, Forrester, MX 2009 from Helen Walters on Vimeo.

Reader Comments

Doug Pruden

March 3, 2009 10:23 AM

I agree with Bruce that brands are built across the entire rational and emotional landscape of the Customer Experience. The reason they are failing is because it is physically and financially impossible to provide that differentiated experience across all the marketing, product and servicing interactions. Corporations need to better understand which interactions and which components of those interactions are most meaningful to customers and make just a few of those areas the priorities for action. When management attempts to delight every customer at every point of contact with the brand - as some advise them - they are destined for failure.

Sid Banerjee

March 6, 2009 4:51 PM

Well said. As we've covered in our discussions about Clarabridge, customers' loyalty to a brand is less and less defined by the right brain experiences of habit, placement, and price, and far more defined by the experiences they associate with the products they buy and use. Brand preservation is the watchword for a tightening economy - and companies who want to preserve brand loyalty actually must create an nurture a desirable, compelling "experience" associated with aspects of purchase, use, and support of products. Conversely, companies should focus on the experiences that will secure customer loyalty and eliminate those that aren't wanted and that cost too much.

Customer Experience Intelligence is derived from monitoring and acting on customer experience feedback, and from using customer experience analytics to ensure your customers achieve sustained, differentiated, desirable experiences with your brands vs. the competition. Equally important is making sure customer experience analytics, as a practice, doesn't break the bank -- thus the need for text mining/customer experience analytics solutions like ours.

Jason Mittelstaedt

March 16, 2009 4:26 PM

Bruce: reinforcing the brand across every customer touch point and interaction is, I agree, essential to delivering great customer experiences.
I find your response to Helen’s question of ‘what’s next’ in terms of the demise of branding (that the really good brands will begin to step it up and differentiate themselves) to be accurate. One customer of ours,, just launched an innovative “Beauty Chat” on their Website to differentiate its brand from brick and mortar cosmetic counters. Another, Snapfish, has infused its brand into the Web support experience, taking it from static to interactive ( with our customer portal technology. Which brands today do you think are stepping up and differentiating themselves?” Jason M., CMO, RightNow Technologies (

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