Content Inspiration

Applying Data Science to Brand Bonding in the Digital Age with CMO, Tricia Nichols

By Skyword Staff on April 22, 2024

A Content Disrupted podcast with Tricia Nichols, CMO.

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Brand bonding isn't just a buzzword; it's a science that any marketing team can master. In this episode of Content Disrupted, trailblazing CMO, Tricia Nichols shares her insights on fostering and tracking brand bonding, balancing short-term vs. long-term perspectives, and using data science to answer the right questions at the right time.

Tricia Nichols is a consultant, angel investor, board member, and former CMO at Gap, Estée Lauder, Pepsi, IPP, and Belk. She is renowned for her ability to spearhead innovative strategies, catalyze growth, and deepen consumer engagement for iconic and rising brands. Her commitment to crafting distinctive and persuasive consumer value propositions, alongside fostering new avenues for revenue growth through decision science, stands at the core of her approach.

Episode Highlights:

  • [02:55] What is Brand Bonding? — In today's noisy digital landscape, building strong connections with customers has become more challenging than ever. With the fragmentation of channels and the shift towards a cookie-less world, marketers need to adapt their strategies to reach and create bonding experiences with their audiences, across a wide range of digital touchpoints. Tricia defines brand bonding as multiple frequent positive engagements with a brand that customers seek out and advocate for. It goes beyond brand awareness and focuses on building a deep connection with customers over time. In her experience, when marketers start using data science to measure brand bonding, they can begin to unlock what has caused people to bond with the brand and what their behavior looks like when they're bonded.

  • [09:38] Micro Storytelling — The Key to a Connected Brand Narrative – Tricia shares her approach to "micro storytelling," which she developed during her time with Estée Lauder. Brands will often have a macro story that lives within the customer value proposition. The problem with this is while your macro story might resonate with an overarching group, it's not as effective when speaking to specific demographics or individuals facing specific challenges. Micro storytelling allows marketers to break down their brand's value proposition into smaller stories that resonate with different customers. It's all about answering the right questions at the right stage while maintaining a consistent narrative thread.

  • [13:27] Making Decisions with Data — Tricia is known as a CMO who champions digital innovation. When it comes to leveraging marketing data, she takes a strategic approach. Before diving into analysis, Tricia recommends defining the business decision(s) the data will inform. She avoids getting lost in irrelevant data points by asking key questions like 'What are we trying to test or solve for?' upfront. She's also a proponent of having prescriptive data and company health dashboards that answer questions like, 'What does someone's behavior look like before they churn?' Having that dashboard in place keeps marketing accountable and allows brands to test and learn what's going to drive the most positive business results.

  • [16:19] Tackling Data Attribution in Marketing — Tricia recommends considering how data attribution needs to be organized, depending on whose questions are being answered. CEOs and CFOs might prioritize immediate impact on sales, while marketers should advocate for considering the long-term health of the company and where to go next. That said, marketers shouldn't just view historical data. Data science now allows us to predict the impact of future decisions, such as how removing a product or deprioritizing a channel will play out. Similarly, marketers can identify promising new channels or customer acquisition strategies with predictive modeling, even if the initial real-world results seem weak.

  • [24:20] The Opportunities and Pitfalls of Generative AI — Tricia believes Generative AI can be a helpful tool for marketers, but stresses the importance of using it strategically. She highlights the importance of human control over brand voice and core messaging, and using AI for optimization and scaling, not content creation from scratch. For example, AI cannot create micro stories without instruction, and even then, AI has tendencies to provide inaccurate or hallucinatory responses you don't want to put in front of your customers. Tricia believes brand bonding relies on human empathy, understanding, and strategic control, which AI lacks. She recommends that marketers use AI as a tool to support their decision-making process and enhance their marketing efforts, but not rely on it to be the sole voice of the brand.

Follow and subscribe to Content Disrupted on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. Every other week, we host candid conversations with pioneering CMOs and researchers on the topics most relevant to enterprise marketers, from the psychology behind today's digital buying behaviors and how to craft more relevant creative to maximizing internal trust in the marketing team.


Skyword Staff