Some definitions [and the good news first….]
The mechanics of developing the elements of a brand have remained constant, hooray! And it’s still fundamentally about the sweet spot between:
- What a product/service does (its rational attributes and advantages)
- The customer’s needs and how your product/service can satisfy them
- An emotive charge – the values you wish to associate with your brand
So, the definition of branding as loyalty beyond reason still holds true.
But, what’s changed is pretty much everything else surrounding the brand, in other words the landscape the brand has to thrive in.
This time it’s different [sort of…]
While the core mechanics of what makes a brand a brand hasn’t really altered (your positioning is still defined as the space you occupy in the mind of your customers) what has changed is how you interact with those customers.
The digital age has fundamentally shifted the economics of marketing. That’s irrefutable.
What price loyalty?
So how has the landscape changed? Well for one thing consumers have so much more choice these days that they don’t have to show as much loyalty as before. Remember when you could get a customer and you had them for life (barring any screw ups obviously) – increasingly that’s not the case anymore.
Sure, there will still be some old (and in the main they tend to be old) advocates or brand aficionado who will remain loyal to you until the day they die, but that’s not the default position these days, they are merely a hangover of days past.
Today’s brand consumer is much more savvy, cynical and ultimately promiscuous. With way more choice than before. And are exposed to much more information not just about your brand, but that of your competitors. So it’s a lot harder to reach them these days.
You have to be able to cut through the clutter.
Customer interactions are now two way
And that’s not all; today’s consumers also expect to have a stake in your brand – marketers responded to this trend by customising their products (remember Burger King’s ‘have it your way?’).
In other words, they want to interact with your brands. There is a caveat of course, and this still holds true. They are looking for brands which share the same values as them. So you need to make sure that that part of your brand is as clearly communicated as possible.
This presents both opportunities and threats. Do you also remember Nike’s customisation sweatshop PR debacle? So you see, there can be as many challenges with a digital brand as opportunities. You have to be a lot more transparent with your brand these days.
The digital world means there is nowhere to hide.
Another major change that the digital age has wrought is that there are so many more touch points to this interaction.
Now it’s a whole lot messier. And more iterative. With many more ways for a customer to interact with you. So how do you engage appropriately with your audience?
Today’s audience are looking for positive experiences. Not only that, they’re looking for a brand to provide content which is relevant to their lives and authentic. Transparency is key here.
So, to conclude, it’s about being creative on how you engage your audience to make it meaningful for them. Check out how Antwerp Zoo found a whole new audience by using the birth of a baby elephant to grow their visitor numbers.
In the next blog post, we’ll give you some pointers on how you can start to engage your audience using social media.