At the Dynatrace PERFORM customer conference today, Dynatrace CEO John van Siclen made this subtly provocative statement: your apps are your brand.

In conversations about the digital disruption driving digital transformations across enterprises today, the relationship between the technology efforts – the apps – and the corporate brand is as important as ever.

And yet, the statement that these two very different concepts are actually the same thing raises the bar on digital transformation. Does it even hold water?

Let’s begin with the concept of a brand. Above all else, a brand is a promise – a promise between company and customer that represents the value customers expect from the company.

For example, take Panera Bread – a brand who not coincidentally spoke at PERFORM. Regardless of which Panera restaurant you enter, you know what to expect. The promise of the Panera brand covers its food, its restaurant layouts, how its employees act, everything you expect from a Panera.

Panera is now in the final stages of a comprehensive reinvention they call Panera 2.0. Included in this transformation are tablets in kiosks and at tables for ordering, improved online to-go service, and a host of other, more subtle improvements aimed at improving the “desire to friction ratio,” according to Michael Wojcik, VP of enterprise technology services at Panera.

All of these improvements are now part of the Panera brand – the promise to customers of the experience that Panera represents. Clearly, there’s more to this promise than its technology elements – after all, you go to Panera for the food, not the technology. But from the perspective of Panera’s digital transformation, the entire experience at the restaurant is the digital app.

After all, the word application means the purpose of a tool. The application of a hammer is hammering in nails. In the case of Panera – as with any other successful digital transformation – the digital application is the entire customer experience, which of course is the promise of the brand itself.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, Dynatrace is an Intellyx customer. None of the other organizations mentioned are Intellyx customers. Intellyx retains final editorial control of this article. Image credit: Dynatrace.