As industries transform so must companies, and as they do so in turn will the way their customers see them. Brand transformation is as inevitable a part of the journey as the technology or the business model. In the automotive industry, many companies’ brands rest squarely on the driver experience, being connected to the road, through the sound of the engine, the tactile feel and feedback through the steering wheel, the connection to the drive train through the stick shift. Fast forward a few years to a world of autonomous vehicle and the relationship between the car and the user is an entirely different thing, that connection with the road has become a connection with the cloud. It will be far removed from the current driving experience and more akin to a space for entertainment, relaxation or work. The brand promise that is all about driving, the one that has served top car makers so well for decades, will be obsolete.

This means it’s back to the drawing board to define a new brand promise, and most importantly, a new brand experience. When I’m asked how important the user experience is, my response is always the same: what else is there? We don’t desire technology for its own sake, it’s not just to get us home on time or to help us cook great food, it’s more about the meal with the family when all that is done. Experience is everything!

So new driving experiences need to be created and they need to be experiences that customers can buy into and that reflect the values of the brand. For an established company with decades, and in some cases centuries, of history, pivoting their business model is one thing, but brand transformation is quite another.

We’ve seen a few industry disruptions and since we joined the Jabil family we’ve been exposed to even more. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the automotive, retail or service sector, change is hard and the journey from established brand to new brand is challenging. Maybe we’re strange, but we thrive on that journey. We love the blank canvas of a new business and the chance to use our skills to discover what customers are looking for in their experience. Take the world of autonomous driving, what do users want from autonomous vehicles? Perhaps an entertainment space, perhaps it’s all about productivity and they want a great work space, perhaps they want a dining space or a flexible space that can do all those things and more. We ask ourselves what the ultimate autonomous vehicle feels like when it’s at its best.

Brand experience isn’t so much about what a product does, it’s more about how it does it! And brand experience isn’t about technology, it’s about how the application of technology feels to the user. The automotive industry has companies with amazing brand equity, badges we associate with performance, with comfort, with power, with finesse. Transforming those brands into the digital age is going to be exciting and will need a transformative approach to design, preferably from a design company that has experience of transformation and is connected to world class manufacturing and all the engineering disciplines and rigor that go with that. To me Jabil is like an engineering candy store where I can pick up the phone and get deep domain expertise in fluid dynamics, optics, mobile connectivity and just about every other technology discipline.

It’s an exciting time to be in design and a fantastic time to be in technology. This week at CES has confirmed that transformation and disruption is the new norm. We are embracing that new norm and thriving on the journey we are sharing with the brands that will shape the future.

You can watch my video interview here: