I was recently asked to present some thoughts on ‘Branding in the Digital Age’. I found some great sources of inspiration to help clarify my thoughts on this, including 100 Words on Digital Branding by Mike Auraz.
This is where I got to:
1. Not everything has changed
First of all, not everything has changed! Brands are only as strong as what people say, feel and think about them. A strong brand still needs a strong story. A brand’s legacy is still the sum total of its’ ideas and experiences over time.
2. But, we have changed…
Digital technology has changed the way that we live their lives – they way we communicate, learn, work, shop and consume media and entertainment. A deep understanding of how people behave online is essential.
3. Peoples lives don’t revolve around brands, they revolve around life and relationships
Organisations and brands need to evolve in line with these new behaviours and find ways to be relevant to people in the context of their everyday lives. This means developing a ‘network thinking’ or digital mindset; and moving beyond a dependency on paid messages to earning attention and trust through conversations, relevant content and useful services.
4. Attention markets
Content has become increasingly abundant and available; whilst human attention is increasingly a scarce commodity. Online, everyone is a competitor for your attention, not just your traditional high street or sector competitors. To stand out, brands need to make a Brilliant Noise.
They need to develop systems (both human and technical) and processes for playing the attention markets.
5. Invest in Relationships
Digital branding is still very much in its infancy. Much digital strategy to date has focused on the new – acquisitions, sales and unique visitors. Strategies need to move beyond acquisition to retention and deeper engagement with consumers; to really recognise loyalty and lifetime value.
What if a brand knew our history with it and could adapt interfaces and content for us accordingly? To do this, brands need to invest in relationships and systems to manage those relationships.
6. Relinquish control
To allow people to truly engage, some control needs to relinquished. Allow people to engage in unimagined ways, creating content, designing products, making adverts, managing customer service…
Plan for content that the brand doesn’t create.
If the brand is inspiring, useful and relevant, the customers will do the advertising, the marketing and even the customer service. This is not a magic trick. This is the nature of being trusted in connected networks.
7. Stand for Something!
In an increasingly price sensitive, commoditised and competitive world, it is increasingly important to care about something more important than your product and your services.
The conscious business agenda will become more and more important over the coming years.
What do you stand for? How will what you do now create long term value?
It is time to start thinking about and building your digital brand legacy.