Is freedom of choice hurting your brand?

Regardless of whether you serve customers or clients, business-to-consumer or business-to-business, the marketing landscape has changed. The Internet and its associated channels like social media and mobile phones mean that marketing is more direct, more relational and more consequential than ever before. It follows then, that a brand of even two or three years ago may now struggle to be relevant – but not, surprisingly, for the sake of digitisation.

By this we mean that it isn't so much that brands should now become digital friendly, but rather a case of brands having to be able to respond to the speed of change and choice that is available to your customers, as a result of digitisation.

David C. Edelman, coleader of McKinsey & Company’s Global Digital Marketing Strategy practice, indirectly touches on our point when he says that consumers today are promiscuous in their brand relationships.

"They connect with myriad brands - through new media channels beyond the manufacturer's and the retailer's control or even knowledge – and evaluate a shifting array of them, often expanding the pool before narrowing it," he says. "After a purchase these consumers may remain aggressively engaged, publicly promoting or assailing the products they've bought, collaborating in the brand's development, and challenging and shaping their meaning."

He goes on to say that consumers "still want a clear brand promise and offerings they value. What has changed is when - at what touch points – they are most open to influence, and how you can interact with them at those points".

It's that last point about multiple touch points, rather than digitisation itself, that is most relevant to your brand.

If you view David Edelman's comments from the perspective of brand design, it's seems that the distinction is not so much between offline and online branding (the principles of brand promise and value remain), but in the fact that your client / customer will encounter your brand across a broad range of touch points.

Therefore what is relevant is your brand's ability to carry across both online and offline channels.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, websites, word of mouth, smartphones and apps, texting, magazines, radio, TV… any one of these channels (depending on your choice of marketing mix), may exert differing levels of influence on prospective customers at any given time.

What this means, now more than ever, is that your brand must be flexible, to be effective across all channels and able to go anywhere at anytime and still deliver a powerful brand promise and value offering.

To ensure this happens, it is important to measure your brand against elements such as:

  • Consistency - consistent communicates reliable and trustworthy, no matter how edgy your brand
  • Clarity - lucid, clear, quickly grasped. You may have a fraction of a second, or five minutes, to communicate (depending on the channel). But in each instance, your brand must communicate with clarity
  • Adaptability - whether viewed on a mobile phone or post-box flyer, your brand must powerfully and effortlessly translate across multiple channels and platforms without loss of impact

Hence we say, review your brand not so much because of digitisation, but because of the 'freedom of choice' digitisation has created.

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