How do brands live in a digital world?

How has new media impacted brands?
It goes without saying that digital media has dramatically changed the marketing and marcomms mix and anyone involved in branding or brand development has digital high on their agenda. Just how high depends upon the brand itself – not all brands are created equal

It’s apparent that this is a massive subject which I’m sure I will return to again and again, so for now let’s just consider the categories of brands

Traditional and existing brands – these generally take digital <into their standard marketing activities, though there are many brand awareness surveys indicating that a combination of online and offline promotion has far greater impact then the sum of the two activities.  Simple factors also have impact on existing brands – for example, consider B&Q and AT&T – where ampersands are not available in URLs. No wonder we have diy.com.

But many brands are now exploiting social internet, as strong brands generate discourse and conversation – for better or for worse. Everyone wants to talk about well-known names and if the brands are smart they can tap into this valuable resource to inform their marketing decisions.

Web-only brands

The internet has sponsored many brands that would not have existed previously – Amazon, lastminute.com, Google, Facebook etc.  For all of these, the web is their only shop window.  Such brands are usually very adept at on-line marketing but the really smart marketers exploit traditional marketing equally well.

One of the dangers with an online brand is that the owners are so focussed on the digital environment they neglect the offline arena. Just as offline brands need to exist in a digital world as well, online brands may also have opportunities to develop and extend into the offline world as well. Owners must take care to consider these opportunities in their brand development and not create something which presents real difficulties to work with offline.

New Brands

Perhaps the most exciting area is the creation of new brands. It is here taht the greatest impact is seen – any aware marketer must consider online opportunities as part of the brand development programme.  Equally important though are the opportunities digital media presents for the brand development process itself. Research, testing, market intelligence, surveys and brand comparisons can all be executed quickly and inexpensively online – even launches can be effected with massive impact for new brands.

We touched on Web 2.0 earlier, but for new brands the conversations that can be stimulated and the feedback marketers can get is hugely valuable. The only discipline that needs to be applied is in relinquishing a measure of control to engage with the audiences – something many companies find extremely difficult.

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