I’m currently working on a brand launch for a new entrant and it reinforces for me the problems associated with the ‘fog of brands’. New brands and small businesses may have unprecedented opportunities, but also have to deal with a morass of competing messages – constant background noise from a global market.
If we look back at the pre-TV days, the public was only exposed to a relatively small number of brands: these were generally brands available through local outlets and a few major brands advertised in the press. With the growth of broadcast media, the brand communications increased, but the relatively high cost of advertising tended to limit it to already established brands or serious new entrants. Customers were slowly becoming aware of brands not currently available in their local shops and demand increased with a thirst for choice. The number of brands and brand choice grew steadily but on a human scale. This growth was mainly restricted to consumer brands with business-to-business affected hardly at all.
Suddenly, with the advent of online media, brands found themselves in a period of discontinuous change. Low cost of entry meant thousands of small businesses were launched. The global nature of the web exposed customers, consumer and B2B, to millions of new brands and businesses. Many small businesses paid scant attention to their brands while others successfully attacked the issue with varying degrees of skill and intuitive expertise – but all are out their fighting for their place in the sun.
What does this mean for new brands? Launches require a lot more analysis. We have to look beyond what we would have considered direct competitors. There is the confusion factors – the plethora of brands representing perhaps totally unrelated offers which can muddy the waters around our offer. It has always been important to have a clear, differentiated offer and distinctive brand communications: today it is vital if your offer is to be seen in the ‘fog of brands’.