Eric Baumgartner speaking at Flint and Steel event
Leading With Innovation: Strategies for Brand Evolution
7 minutes
Flint and Steel

Eric Baumgartner, one of the industry’s most forward-thinking leaders and creatives is the Executive Technology Growth Lead for VML. He set the stage for CLM’s Flint and Steel event. Eric led participants on a journey through the cutting-edge innovations of the fourth wave of disruption in technology and media.

We were reminded of humanity’s ever-shifting perspectives. From the belief that Earth was the center of the universe to the notion of possible alien species, Eric urged people to reflect on how quickly our understanding of the world can evolve. Drawing parallels to our collective journey of discovery, he emphasized the transformative power of knowledge and the limitless potential of tomorrow’s revelations.

Eric spoke of the future of marketing and how AI and other new technologies in this current fourth wave of disruption are allowing us to win with creativity at a greater speed and scope than ever before. Through his extensive experience in guiding global brands like Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile, and more, he underscored the importance of staying ahead of the innovation curve to remain competitive in today’s dynamic landscape. AI is a tool that allows us even greater flexibility with consumer data and how leveraging that data has become paramount in understanding consumer behavior and tailoring targeted advertising strategies.



Here are four key takeaways from his presentation:

1. Innovation is a Mindset

Innovation is not just about technology; it’s a mindset. In today’s rapidly changing landscape, innovation empowers us to harness the full potential of emerging technologies, such as AI and massive data, as amplifiers of creativity and effectiveness.

While some naysayers are critical of AI, ultimately it is a tool that, when used properly, can enhance the creative process, not replace it. There is no true innovation without imagination.

As an example, Eric shared how AI is revolutionizing creative processes, enabling faster ideation, research, and prototyping, using software like Copilot, ChatGPT, Midjourney and Adobe Firefly. With video editing software like Sora and VEED.AI, what once took thousands of dollars and weeks to produce can be created in a matter of minutes, allowing more time for revisions and refinements, giving greater flexibility to the creative team both in the form of time and budget.

With AI as a powerful ally, marketers can deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time, driving engagement and fostering brand loyalty. This embrace of AI as an extension of human creativity allows for more time to explore what could be.

Ultimately, innovation as a mindset goes beyond merely adopting the latest tools and techniques. It involves instilling a willingness to question assumptions, embrace change, and accept failure as a steppingstone to success. Additionally, AI should not be seen as a mere producer of finished products. Instead, it should be viewed as an extension of our own creative process. This allows us greater freedom to imagine, create, challenge the status quo, and explore uncharted territory in pursuit of excellence.

By embracing change, fostering creativity, and cultivating a culture of innovation, organizations can chart a course toward sustained growth, relevance, and impact in an ever-evolving world.

2. Brand Experience

The concept of Brand Experience has emerged as a pivotal element in shaping consumer perceptions and driving engagement. This concept goes beyond traditional marketing strategies; it encompasses every interaction, touchpoint, and impression that a consumer has with a brand, including marketing materials, products, services, customer service interactions, and more. At its core, brand experience is about crafting a cohesive story that resonates with consumers on an emotional level, fostering trust, loyalty, and affinity over time. A brand that customers identify with and like is a brand they will come back to time and time again.

Eric underscored the importance of aligning brand experience with the values, aspirations, and desires of the target audience. By mining data and analyzing it, utilizing AI, brands can gain a deeper understanding of the needs and preferences of consumers. This in turn allows them to carefully develop meaningful connections that transcend transactional relationships and foster long-term loyalty. Whether it’s through tailored messaging, responsive customer support, or intuitive digital interfaces, brands have the opportunity to connect unlike ever before.

3. Customer Experience Strategy

In contrast to the brand experience which focuses more on the emotional connection and perception of the brand, customer experience focuses on the practical interactions and touchpoints that customers have with the brand. In today’s fast-paced and digitally-driven landscape, where consumer expectations are constantly changing, brands must prioritize their customers’ needs and preferences to focus on key moments within the buying journey, from initial awareness to post-purchase support.

Customer Experience is about delivering a seamless and consistent experience across all touchpoints to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty. You’re not just competing against companies in your own category, you’re competing against the best customer experience your customer had last.
With this in mind, Eric emphasized the importance of shifting the focus from organizational structures to customer-centric approaches, where every decision and initiative is guided by a deep understanding of the target audience.

At its core, a customer experience strategy is not just a set of tactics or initiatives; it’s a mindset that permeates every aspect of a brand’s operations. By prioritizing empathy, agility, and innovation, brands can create differentiated experiences that drive customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

4. Brand Experience + Customer Experience = Exceeding Expectations

In today’s competitive environment, where consumers have countless options at their fingertips, brands must go above and beyond to foster loyalty. When you keep in mind the equation that Brand Experience + Customer Experience = Exceeding Expectations, having both sides of this equation working synergistically will increase the ability to exceed customer expectations in new and innovative ways. Adding the power of AI increases the ability to for this equation to work exponentially.

Eric relayed an anecdote in which a yogurt manufacturer was utilizing AI with a leading ERP platform provider to scan and mine the social media feeds of their customers. During this, they discovered that the times strawberry yogurt was mentioned in a positive light had increased. The company realized that now was the time to anticipate a potential increase in the sales of strawberry yogurt and that in order to meet demand, changes had to be made earlier rather than later when it came to making sure there was enough stock on hand. When the increase in sales hit (as predicted by AI), shelves had been preemptively stocked, ensuring consumers were able to purchase the products they wanted without issue.

This anticipatory approach makes it possible for companies and suppliers to mine data for critical information regarding their brand (Brand Experience) and then be ready to meet consumer needs (Customer Experience), helping reinforce the personalized service aspect that so many people have come to expect from their favorite brands…and ultimately…exceeding expectations.

In conclusion, Eric’s presentation underscored the transformative power of innovation in shaping the future of marketing and advertising. By embracing emerging technologies, harnessing data-driven insights, and prioritizing customer-centric experiences, brands can drive growth, inspire loyalty, and make a lasting impact in the ever-evolving marketplace.

To learn more about CLM or Flint & Steel schedule a discovery call with us.

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