Multiple channels, authentic advocacy, transmedia branding, Phygital, hyper-segmentation, Big Data, or emotional linking are some of the new concepts that have conquered the world of communication and marketing and that took center stage in the debate with over 200 colleagues at the 2nd Communication Forum on Brand Trends, organized by LLORENTE & CUENCA on March 8 in Madrid.

These concepts have not played a role in the rules of the game of this exciting profession, but the future of communication cannot longer be drawn without them.

Technology has transformed the rules of the relations between brands and consumers traditionally based on one-way mass messages. Instead, they offer personalization as well as the tailor-made products and services consumers demand and which require in-depth knowledge of their preferences, behaviors, and needs.

Brands can no longer limit themselves to simply searching for consumers; now they need brand ambassadors. Brands have ceased to be what they tell consumers they are because in this day and age, they are what consumers tell each other they are.

In light of this transformation, companies face the challenge of matching the perceptions that users receive and what brands convey by creating new experiences, placing consumers at the center of strategies and going beyond simple communication in order to encourage recommendations.

In this regard, examples such as user generated content and gamification, based on games and incentive systems are proving to be successful. Immersive contents create an opportunity for consumers to visit new worlds and live different experiences and at the same time they create a bubble of empathy between consumers and brands. They are also the perfect alternative for addressing the era of transparency in order to show, instead of promise, and tell stories in which our consumers feel like the main focus.

Audiences no longer connect emotionally with logos but rather with other people, and this personal and human touch is extremely valuable in a highly digitalized world. Brands sell more than just a product; they sell trust and values. Now more than ever, having strategic and loyal defenders is what will make a difference.

But for them to recommend us, we have to attract them and to attract them, it is necessary to know them, which in turns requires understanding exactly what they need, and providing it. This is where Big Data comes in. This 21st century tool allows us to collect and segment information, predict behaviors, and offer personalized, individualized services with a high level of detail. Among other benefits, this improvement increases customer loyalty towards the brand.

Despite the rise of Big Data, there is a long way to go as far as knowing how to efficiently interpret and cross reference information in order to establish accurate consumption parameters. One of the biggest challenges of Big Data is to avoid having consumers feel like they are constantly being monitored and analyzed, which means that we must understand how to show that the trust placed in us is transformed into the products, services, and experiences that best adapt to each of their needs and profiles.

In summary, today, as the World Consumer Rights Day, is a good opportunity to reflect on how the rules have changed. Brands have relinquished the leading role to users, whose experiences and opinions are what determine success or failure in a scenario where time is essential and physical and digital elements are increasingly connected. As a result, it is key to adapt to the new scenario, use active listening and continue to innovate if we want to play a major role in the game of communication.

By José Antonio Llorente, Founding Partner and Chairman of LLORENTE & CUENCA