Every business needs a brand, and every brand needs a strategy. Also in the digital age. Digital channels have opened up exciting opportunities for brands to engage with increasingly connected customers. However, the strategy should not focus on the selection of channels but on ensuring the fundamentals that give meaning to the brand, using the channels as a way of connection.

If your brand lacks a solid, compelling, and coherent strategy that inspires everything it does regardless of the channel, you’ll be increasing the risk of diluting its value and being left out of the market. Coherence and consistency are therefore essential, even more so when it could be said that the brand is the result of the experiences it generates.

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The Journey to Brand Experience

Branding is now real-time

What happens is that people today have a very powerful instrument, armed with mobile phones they can record their experiences with the brand in real time and share them almost instantly – good or bad – with the rest of the world. So, people are the ones who are building the story of the brand and not the company itself.

With this in mind, in order to gain customer loyalty – in short, to consolidate the brand – companies must maintain a continuous and open dialogue. The conversation between customers and the organization has to be part of the complete cycle: pre-during-post. Not only with customers, but also with workers, suppliers and other stakeholders. To achieve this, technology will be a crucial tool in the integration of all systems (marketing, production, sales, etc.). The combination of all of them will make it possible to interact with the market in real time and incorporate relevant experiences that will increase loyalty.

In real time, people are primarily looking for value, something that intensifies their experience of the moment with the brand. The goal for brands is to enrich the experience by offering something that provides that value and not a mere distraction. On the other hand, they want to share their feelings as a result of that experience. This implies anticipation, prior planning and not just a reaction on the part of brands.

Undoubtedly, new technologies, new channels and changes in society influence the science and art of branding. The essence of branding remains the same, but it is worth reviewing the balances between fundamental concepts:

    • Balance between the opportunities offered by technology (and the data collected), and a deep understanding of consumer needs.
    • Balance between short-term sales conversions and the consolidation of the brand strategy in the medium to long term, which is what adds value.
    • Balance between the globalization of networks and the personalization of relationships to intensify the customer experience.
    • Balance between differentiation and identification.

Technology, data, and branding

Thanks to technology, brand leaders can continuously adapt their tactics and instantly measure their effects on metrics such as sales and customer acquisition. It is possible to follow customers in their Digital Journey, know from which sites they enter web pages, know where they go when they leave, measure their clicks, evaluate how different tactics convert into sales, etc. All of this generates huge amounts of data that need to be properly processed, which can be a problem.

In addition, what happens is that we can observe the behavior of consumers online, but we do not get any knowledge of the reasons why they do it. Consequently, with the focus on access to more data, there is a risk of losing the strategic perspective of branding and focusing too much on the short term.

Brand, experience and shared values

To talk about brands is to talk about meanings. That’s why it’s important to identify their purpose (why they’re there) and their promise (what experience we’re going to have thanks to them). According to Salesforce, 75% of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social media), and 73% are likely to switch brands if they don’t.

Customers today have the power thanks to the huge number of alternatives coming to their devices. In return, we know a lot more about customers, who want brands to get ahead of their wants and needs.

Nowadays, and even more so in the digital environment, the differentiation between products is becoming less and less and the brand is consolidating itself as the main differentiating element. The brand is responsible for building a meaning that people identify with and want to connect with because they are in tune with their own values and beliefs. Those that have worked their strategy well, and reach a clear why, will be able to use that concept as the core of creating valuable content.

The Beginning of the End

We must not forget that technology and digital are a means, not an end in themselves. There is no doubt that brand managers must take advantage of new digital opportunities, experiment with new communication channels, and look for new ways to connect with their environment. However, the basic principles of branding remain, and will continue to be, fundamental. Key concepts such as brand territory, values, positioning, purpose and personality are just as important in the digital world.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward