We’re hearing a lot from marketers about the need to build branded systems.
One great example is the Apple music system. iPhones, iPods, iPads, computers, Apple TVs and iTunes create a music system for learning, organizing, buying, syncing and playing music.
Apple has created a series of interlocked products and services that together provide lots of consumer benefits.
From a marketing standpoint, building an effective system that more and more people buy into is money in the bank. Not only do systems provide lots of benefits but the switching costs are high, so marketers earn a more loyal customer base.
Systems can also sell individual products more powerfully. Despite arguably the best products on the market, Apple computer share plateaued and stagnated at around 3% for years. Now, as more and more people want Apple’s music system (iPods, iPhone, iTunes) or Apple’s App system (iPhones, App Store) or Apple’s photo system (iPhoto, photo book publishing), computer sales have risen dramatically. If you count tablets (and we do), Apple could have as high as 20% of the global computer market in 2011.
Serve from American Express is clearly an early node in a bigger system planned by Amex. Serve is a paypal-like money exchange platform that is an alternative to the highly profitable current credit card system out there.
With the continued emergence of companies like Square and the advent of NFC, Amex recognizes that the infrastructure that has benefited them for so long can be circumvented. Now the task is to create another, better system from a consumer POV. Serve is the first step. You can read all about it in a nice Fast Company article here.
In what way might a consumer-facing system benefit your or your client’s business? Is there a way to link products and services or channels or communication platforms in a way that benefits consumers? Could you imagine building onto that system over time to provide even more value?
We’ve developed a series of ways of thinking about this. It is very interesting and we think key to marketing that employees both digital and analog elements.