What do you stand for?

One constant of the world we live in is change. As a civilisation, we’ve moved from the Agriculture Age, to the Industrial Age, to the Information Age. And as marketers, we’ve moved from a traditional marketing world to one that is dominated by digital — now we’re entering a new era: post-advertising.

Change is exciting. New technologies are allowing us to travel more, see more and experience more. It keeps us connected to our friends and family. AI, robotics and advanced medicines are helping us to become smarter, work less and live longer. We even have personalised emojis! It’s revolutionary. It also has a massive implication for both brand agencies and businesses, and in order to stay relevant, we need to think about the big picture.

From a branding agency point of view, we used to have one tried and true way of communicating — strong branding, consistent positioning, distinctive look and feel, and an emotional/rational story. Partner that with a predictable media model of TV, radio, and out of home and voila — results. But that doesn’t work anymore. So, what does?

Above all else, there are three elements you need in order to develop and drive great branding in a new digital world: identity, visibility and credibility.

Identity

Identity, for the most part, is the same as it has traditionally been but driven by the addition of three contemporary ideas: purpose, simplicity and new thinking about consumer behaviour.

Jim Stengel brought the idea of running a business with clear and driving purpose into contemporary marketing theory. Purpose used to be used as a business strategy and a motivating factor for employees, but today, authentic purpose heavily influences the way consumers think of a company. But it has to be genuine. If it’s not, people will see through it.

The second idea is around simplicity, and this was introduced by Siegel + Gale. As products become more and more commoditised, simple stands out over complexity. Think about it. In a pure product sense, what is the real difference between the top three car, mobile networks, or fast food offerings? I would argue very little. And so it’s the customer experience that becomes the real differentiator. And when it comes to experiences, the easier, more simple the better.

The last idea is really thinking about consumer behaviour in a new way. Byron Sharp’s book, How Brands Grow, challenged how FMCG companies steered their advertising. Instead of positioning, emphasis was put onto creating distinctive brand assets. And instead of targeting loyalists, companies turned to always on marketing to attract new, occasional, or infrequent consumers to their brands.

Visibility

With so many different channels, consumers are great at blocking out ads, which makes visibility a huge challenge for brands today. This is what I mean when I say we’re entering a post advertising world — getting your brand in a physical location, in-store or out of the home, is no longer enough. Today, whole transactions are being done online. In fact, there isn’t much a consumer needs to go in-store for anymore.

Brands now must think about how they live online — they need to understand where their customers are and be there too, and be consistently branded across online channels. We must consciously create content and present it on social media. We need to ensure we have an unfair share of search results. And we need to consider the environments where our digital advertising is being displayed.

Credibility

The last piece of the puzzle to consider for your digital brand is credibility. Today, communication is a two-way street, and consumers can (and will) share and express their opinions online. Consumers will trust the opinions of their family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers they’ve never met before over a business. So it’s imperative brands manage customer reviews and recommendations.

Giving customers the opportunity to leave reviews will build brand trust and drive future sales. Likewise, acknowledging and responding to customers comments on social media channels shows brand commitment and transparency. And when you do interact with your customers, make it human. People value authenticity, so adopting a conversational tone and style is part and parcel in developing your credibility. A whiff of corporate spin will get you into trouble very quickly.

Building a strong brand today is a lot more complicated than it used to be. We’re in a post-advertising world where the old rules of slick look and feels and logos don’t apply anymore. In order to survive (and thrive) in this new digital era, brands must be distinctive and offer a simple, yet impactful and positive customer experience. It may sound scary, but remember — change is exciting. Where is your brand headed for the future?

Find out more about our how we could help by checking out our digital strategy services.

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