As Head of Brand at FlixBus, Philipp Stracke looks back on a turbulent year for his brand. We talked to him about why simply continuing to advertise doesn’t work during the crisis and about his advice on brand management in 2021.
Philipp Stracke, thank you for being with us today! Please tell us what your favourite brand was as a child and what it is today.
I loved LEGO as a child. LEGO was not only a great toy … but always meant new parts for the next boats, planes, spaceships. The creative energy of always building something new made LEGO incredibly exciting – and still does today.
Right now, TESLA impresses me the most. To develop such enthusiasm and appeal in the environment of car brands with high marketing budgets is special. For years, Audi, BMW and Porsche models were my dream cars. For me, that would be TESLA now … because only TESLA still radiates this passion for innovation.
What do you think has changed in the brand environment in 2020 and what developments do you see for 2021?
2020 was a difficult, extraordinary year that changes a lot. For brands, this means “listening to what moves people” and then offering solutions for new needs. Those who simply continue to “advertise” in times of change are no longer relevant. Brands have always had two basic functions: They represent the company and thus the values of the people behind the product. And they stand for a concrete value proposition. In a year of global uncertainty and social distance, brands can help with both issues.
What advice would you give to someone trying to establish a new brand in the market or rebrand in 2021?
The brand should always be an expression of the company’s vision. A brand that embodies and creatively conveys this basic idea behind the product will also be successful in 2021.
What has been your biggest aha moment in brand management so far?
It is not the BEST brand strategy that wins, but the most CONSEQUENT implementation. Or to put it another way: when the brand strategy is ready, the brand work is just beginning.
What do you think works internally to turn employees into brand ambassadors in the long term?
In addition to all the marketing and external communication, there also needs to be internal brand management that explains the idea behind the brand to employees and makes them participants and fans of their own brand. Only when an employee understands the vision behind the brand can they incorporate it into their work and make the brand tangible at the touchpoint with the customer.
Imagine you encounter a brand fairy who can fulfill your every wish. What would you wish for FlixBus?
As a TECH company, we are very data-driven and want to know what our customers value about us and where we still need to improve. We are therefore working on making the effect of the brand measurable at the individual touchpoint. If the Brand Fairy has experience in this, I’m happy.
Otherwise, of course, I wish that the world would become a little more normal again in 2021 and that we would once more see many green buses and trains on our roads and rails, with which people can travel easily.