webthinking® is an integrated approach to brand management and corporate communications in the digital age. It consists essentially of selected methods and tools, which are deployed in the concept design and planning of communications projects, in order to create a positive experience for the viewer or customer in any encounter between people and brands.
This effect, often referred to as brand experience or user experience, may arise at many different contact points. In reality at a trade show, via interaction in public spaces, customer service at a branch or quite simply in a magazine. And, of course, virtually on a display, on a smartphone or smart glasses. In any situation the target person can be addressed on several media and channels simultaneously or successively. Unlike cross-media communication, which often only transmits recognizable content in different formats and involves reciprocal links, with real networking of communication the focus of attention is on the context, i.e. the surrounding space and point in time as well as the person’s situation and concerns. Each individual step in the process and each part of an act can influence the experience, push it ahead or interrupt it. With the right combination of communication resources it is possible to guide the dialog partner and fulfill his needs, where a positive feeling is created in him. An approach conceived at this depth is significantly more effective but also more complex to plan and execute at the same time.
And this is where our webthinking® model comes into play.
Companies can achieve far more with communication than merely transmitting messages and hoping for a response among their target groups. The heyday of mass advertising has clearly passed and more and more people yearn for relevance in brand communication. It is no longer about creating abstract fantasy worlds but producing tangible benefits. The aim is to make areas for taking action discoverable, to establish relationships and present shared experiences. A well-conceived service has a significantly greater influence on brand loyalty and generates more recommendations than the most expensive TV commercial. Companies have to position themselves today as experts, supporters and companions as well as using the opportunities provided by digitalization to deal with the changed expectations of their customers and staff.
Our webthinking® system is divided into four dimensions, which harmoniously bring the added value factor of communication to full fruition: Profile Design, as a central perspective for a thoroughgoing understanding of customers and users; Business Design, as a functional component to support and expand business processes; Story Design, as a focus on the issues to produce relevance and dialog, and finally Interface Design, as a management tool of brand perception and brand experience. These dimensions each have an external as well as internal effect and improve not only the approach to customers but also working relationships within the company. Each dimension can be managed individually in its own right and release a variety of synergies for various projects or business sectors. The more networked the entire system appears – in terms of a close meshing of the knowledge of target groups with coherent storytelling and the optimization of interactions – the more efficient the intended measures will be.
When we develop strategies and implement projects, we combine trusted tools from consultancy disciplines (such as business model and organizational development) with marketing methods from market research to brand development, and new methodologies from design research, service design and the startup culture. The structured application of these instruments helps considerably in reducing the complexity of the assignment and thus making quicker and better decisions. The tools deployed have been extensively tested, partly optimized or supplemented with in-house developments. This means we can ensure the seamless meshing of individual findings and their links with integrated perspectives.A significant benefit of our webthinking® model is found in the flexible composition and scalability of its methods, depending on the objective and budget availability. This also makes its use appealing for medium-sized companies with limited budgets. Its systemic structure also allows for modular treatment. You can start with simple steps and then add further activities and measures to the overall picture later on. Many instruments include living documents, whose application can be learned by the project participants and therefore used for ongoing optimization.
The modular webthinking® system allows for a whole series of different applications. Overall strategies spanning both online and offline such as brand strategies, communication strategies or content strategies, as well as sub-strategies, e.g. social media strategies, online marketing strategies or service strategies can be developed efficiently and for international deployment. Not only strategies benefit from networked ways of thinking and working, but also channel or media-specific individual measures from mobile applications (apps) to responsive websites. The set of webthinking® methods can also be deployed in specific areas in order to develop customer loyalty concepts for marketing, to optimize lead management or trade show support for sales or to define agenda setting for the corporate communications sector. Even internal improvements can be achieved with the webthinking® system at a high quality and economically productive level: for example by creating collaboration platforms and social intranets or the establishment of a digital culture.
1. Profile Design
If communication is to be successful, you need to understand what makes your dialog partner tick. It is important to be closely engaged with your counterpart, his character, motives and behavior, his needs and situational challenges to be able to develop a profile for your target audience. The aim is to develop empathy and the right gut-feeling for his underlying desires and expectations. Only then you are in a position to address the appropriate issues, to take the appropriate actions – and of course to present yourself appropriately, so that sympathy, trust and relationships can develop.
Areas of Expertise:
- Recording and analysis of target group information (surveys, individual interviews)
- Creation of persona profiles (needs, behavioral patterns, influencing factors)
- Development of customer orientation and empathy enhancement (workshops, training)
- Identification of customer contact points and interfaces (touch point universe)
- Context analysis and situation-relevant experiences (time, place, situation)
- Creation of activity maps, mental models and user flows (movement patterns, processes)
- Development of scenarios, user stories and customer journeys (user experience)
2. Business Design
Actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, wrong actions also speak for themselves. A company cannot be successful in the long term if it is not in control of its processes or does not offer options for interactions that customers expect. So many Internet startups have long since recognized that the future lies in digital services, which relieve us of numerous procedural steps and make life easier. Digital transformation has shortened routes, simplified requests and enabled new business models, which have established themselves so quickly that our everyday lives would now be inconceivable without them. But these innovations do not just appear by themselves. They are based on one question, asked over and over again: how can I make my customers even happier? Innovations and intelligent services are created by having a good understanding of people. An essential factor here is not only access to customers but also the involvement of employees in organizing the appropriate procedures.
Areas of Expertise:
- Environmental analysis and business model development for digital applications (business modeling)
- Concept design of digital service and sales processes (service design)
- Trend, ideation and innovation workshops (design thinking methods)
- Development of (open) innovation and crowdsourcing solutions (innovation management)
- Concept design of collaboration and knowledge management platforms (social intranet)
- Strategy development and support for digital transformation (cultural change)
- Concept design of mobile applications and mobile services (application development)
- Support for marketing management and managerial accounting (monitoring, reporting)
3. Story Design
Stories help us to understand the world. Our brains think in terms of sequential scenes and even combine our feelings with these sequences. While it is also possible to store pure, abstract information, its meaning is acquired only through context. A good story is so powerful that no one can elude it. Even reference books and professional articles can tell exciting stories and thus impressively convey the current state of knowledge. But storytelling is not easy – it requires a lot of practice. You have to know how to track down good stories, how to put them together and present them in an appealing and inspiring way. This applies to all their forms and formats, from simple text versions to computer games. Not every company and every employee has a knack for storytelling but they can all make a contribution, if the company provides well-conceived narrative strategies and editorial processes.
Areas of Expertise:
- Development of brand messages and mission statements
- Identification of issues and editorial development of content
- Development of content strategy and content marketing concept design
- Planning, setup and support of editorial procedures
- Staging of transmedia storytelling and story lead management
- Concept design of social media and viral marketing activities
- Development of user-generated content projects and user communities
- Concept design and implementation of edutainment and gamification services
4. Interface Design
Successful companies in the sports and lifestyle industries, such as Red Bull, have known how to stage a brand as an experience for quite some time. Every point of contact should provide an individual experience, which lives up to the brand quality and the desired brand attributes. This goes far beyond the display of logos and imagery. What is required to create positive perception through interaction is a passion for detail. Brand management is also currently undergoing digital transformation and is questioning old brand models and approaches. Information architects, user experience designers and usability specialists are today’s experts, as they give rise to tangible realms of experience with the right tools, which utilize the best aspects of the respective medium and still create a unique and exceptional brand experience.
Areas of Expertise:
- Trend scouting and idea development of innovative interfaces
- Interaction design and user experience design (services, apps, platforms)
- Concept design of user-oriented interfaces (responsive, adaptive, tangible)
- Advice on ease of use / joy of use applications and usability testing
- Development of prototypes for digital applications
- Development of visual brand strategies and visual imagery (brand design)
- Development of modular design concepts and digital style guides
- Concept design and production of animations and moving images (video, illustration, 3D)
- Development of entertainment formats and games concepts