The future take-up of mobile commerce means some hard thinking has to take place over how brands should change to cope with a mobile world.
Even though Wap may a be a dirty word in terms of the functionality it currently delivers, the fact remains that over 100 million people will be Net-enabled by next month, and over two billion simple message service messages are being sent in Europe. Branding has already become a key part of e-commerce, and it is going to be no different with mobile commerce.
It is important to remember that a brand is effectively the promise you make to your customers, in terms of quality and perception, and it also defines the relationship between you and the customer.
But, consumers are demanding more mobility - how many people use telephone boxes these days? And facilitated mobility will undoubtedly change the way we purchase and compete. It is clear also that the brand will become ever more critical to sustaining performance.
So, what insights can you expect to be relevant to building brand in a mobile world? According to Kenneth Windsor, executive vice-president of Siegelgale, who gave an excellent presentation on the subject at a recent e-business event in Italy, one of the first things to remember is that your brand must be able to be "intimate" ie, one that people are happy to have near them all the time. And if your brand is not intimate, then maybe you should be partnering with someone whose brand is.
Another issue to be aware of is that your brand in a mobile world must not be obsessive, or else it is more likely to be shunned. If you imagine a situation where your mobile tells you have 2,543 messages, you might be cursing the idea that so many messages could be sent to your phone. That means you are more likely to concentrate on "pulling" the user towards you, rather than "pushing" material at them.
In a mobile world, your brand must also be easily extensible. In the future, your mobile phone could effectively become a credit card with an antenna. So, adopt an attitude towards mobile that could embrace the future. The ones you ignore today could be the opportunities of tomorrow.
Your brand should also not suffer from any over exposure. For example, despite its many guises, the Virgin brand has stayed fresh. You need to create a reason for the user to remember the brand is there, and not just when they might need it.
A good concierge is a key selling point in terms of hotels, and that should also apply to your brand. In other words, a good concierge will always make sure that whatever your hotel experience, it is a good one that reflects well on him/her and the hotel. The same applies to your brand.
Two final examples. If you make a mistake, and your brand is in the intimate, always-close zone, you are unlikely to "get back in" in a hurry. Therefore you must be able to apologise - with actions.
For example, if a mobile phone company makes a mistake with your bill, the least you might expect is an apology, and a certain number of free minutes to make up for the problems caused. The savvy company will do that, creating perpetual channels of feedback that will help preempt the inevitable.
The last golden rule for mobile branding is that your brand should not be "vanilla" (boring). Don't let your offering - or your attitude - become standard.