No Room For Traditional Branding In Digital Era

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 14, 2014


Remember the time when brands like Mercedes, Coca Cola, Pepsi and McDonald ruled the world. But not anymore! These have been replaced by new age digital brands like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung, which are part of almost every top brand ranking today. This may not necessarily imply that the traditional biggies have become less valuable as companies, but no one can deny the fact that the digital brands of today have much higher brand recall and value.

“What sets the Googles and Apples of the world apart from older brands is how they’ve built their brands. Google has hardly spent anything on traditional advertising. Instead, the company has kept the brand meaningful and relevant to people’s lives through free services and cool ideas,” write branding Experts Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech in their recent HBR blog. Similarly, after Apple re-launched with their “Think Different” campaign, they only focused on creating a highly innovative, almost insanely well crafted, and remarkable product experience which caught the imagination of GenY. In fact, if we observe carefully they have hardly spent on those traditional image-building ads and have kept their marketing budget very low.

So what is that has worked in favor of these brands, despite not having spent much on branding, in the traditional sense. Obviously, it is the change in the customers’ habits. Skibsted and Bech explain, “The role of a brand is—and never was—just about solving an information problem. It’s about providing meaning and satisfying emotional needs. These fundamental human needs have not changed. To the contrary as consumers experience information overload, there might be a tendency to gravitate toward what’s known and comforting.”

It is perhaps this emotional need of the consumer which these new age brands are fulfilling in a more holistic way. The digital brands like Google, Facebook and Apple offer a much better connect, are highly personalized and much closer to the hearts of the new generation customer. Therefore, Skibsted and Bech suggest that the question today’s marketers must be asking themselves is: “How can we strengthen our brand when the traditional tools such as advertising, corporate identity programs, and PR are becoming impotent?”

“In a hyper-transparent digital world, consumers instantly know the difference between what a company says and what it does,” they explain. “Organizations can no longer draw clear lines between marketing and product development, between communications and services. “Brand builders must embed themselves across the customer value chain. Products and services must be able to tell a story and communicate value without an extra advertising layer on top. As information is more and more available and the importance of brands increases, the ability to tell a meaningful story through actions and products, not words, is the only way to win.”