Digital branding: connecting brands with people

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Image courtesy of Gavin Llewellyn at Flickr.com

Andy Stalman, one of the top branding specialists in Spain and Latin America, in his book “Brand Off On”, reflects on the future of branding. According to Stalman, big brands create the future instead of predicting it. We are no longer in an era of change but in a change of era.

The current scenario has changed and so has the way we communicate with the target audiences, but the essence is the same.

If we analyze the most successful brands we can see how they have managed to adapt to the change of era. They have maintained their values ​​and personality, they have not changed their value proposition and positioning strategies. What has changed is the way for them to reach the public.

We are facing a new landscape full of opportunities. Now we can interact directly with our audiences generating a relationship that fosters bonding or a sense of belonging towards the brand, creating a two-way communication in which we can share, listen and interact actively, directly and instantaneously.

Social networks are the main point of reference, they must be understood in context and must be applied to our strategy:

1. By being consistent in our brand strategy.

2. By being transparent in our positioning.

3. By being sincere in our relationship with the public.

So, we must have a well-defined brand strategy in the digital environment, both online and offline, and we should maintain consistency across all contact channels.

Success for brands in the 21st century comes from merging in a coherent, consistent and consistently way these components: the brand, the physical world (offline) and the digital world (online). Internet and this hyper-connectivity aided by mobile devices are pushing marketers and advertisers to dive into the context and to react, always consistently and in real time.

What then is the key for a brand to succeed today? Largely, to position their branding aligned to their target audiences and with the help of social networks, cause an impact which is greater than expected.

Let’s take a quick look at several examples that illustrate this idea. Apple, for instance, connotes the idea that believing in the brand is believing in what you do. We always ask the same question: why is Apple more innovative than their competition if they have the same means, the same talent? What makes them different?

The answer is very simple. The most successful brands follow the same pattern, operate in the same manner: they do the opposite of what everyone else does. The key is in how you deliver your speech, how you tell the story.

Every organization in the world knows what it does, some know how they do but very few know why they do it. What is the purpose of your brand? Why does your company exist? What is the meaning of it and why does it have to matter to the people?

We usually communicate from the outside to the inside: what product do I have, how or what our added value is and why buy it. But if most of the buying decisions are based on emotion and not reason, the brand’s discourse will be transmitted in the same way, telling it differently: from the inside out.

People don’t buy what a brand does. They buy the reason why they do it.

When you buy an Apple product you think you’re different just because you have it, because it’s beautiful and sophisticated. We understand perfectly what the brand wants to convey and their message reaches the world. It starts from the center point, attacking the feelings first and creating a willingness to act, and it then closes with rationalization.

Another example is Coca Cola, with its idea of happiness. Creating a brand image that connects you directly with your audience is difficult. Regarding this, one of the reference brands is Coca Cola, who have managed to assimilate its brand to happiness. Coca Cola is a clear example of success in translating your message from traditional advertising to the digital world.

The way to highlight a product, among all of those received by the customer, is through the values ​​that a brand represents. And these values ​​must always have an element of emotion, of identification.

Wally Olins, a pioneer of branding, said that the formula to build an effective brand was IQ + EQ (Knowledge Intelligence + Emotional Intelligence). He advocated a management model based on the sum of strategic thinking and creativity. For him, a brand is the result of applying creativity to positioning. That is, strategic thinking comes first and then design.

Branding produces emotions and desires, while values ​​are transmitted and a brand identity is created. We recognize ourselves in the brand and establish an emotional relationship with it.

The current context implies the way to present the brand is changing thanks to digital media. There is the possibility of choosing between a large number of channels and thus the ability to identify the most suitable one to potentiate the brand.

How to complement a brand strategy in digital media?

1. Creating memorable experiences for your brand to be remembered

2. Thinking in both online and offline strategies.

3. Having good ideas that are creative and with quality so that they can become viral.

Always being consistent with all strategies, elements, content and other factors that influence the construction of a digital identity.

The digital age opens new windows of opportunity for brands to connect with consumers like never before. The strategy regarding digital communication has come to the fore in order to achieve success in contacting the public. Companies that have adapted their message and image to the digital world without losing their essence show us the way forward.

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