“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Scott Cook
Branding, as a concept, was introduced post the introduction of competitive markets. This happened due to the mismatching of supply and demand. When the supplies started increasing and the suppliers were providing similar products, the only differentiating factor that could be seen were the branding of their products.
With the advent of technology, the definition of branding has reached another level altogether. With brands trying to impress customers through story-telling, creating personas, having brand identity and prism – the world of branding has evolved manifold.
In today’s day and age, branding has been redefined. Customers have taken centre-stage and this has led to co-creation of brands rather than earlier ways of one-sided communication. With the introduction of digital media into the picture, the communication has become one to one, as compared to the traditional media communication of one to many. This has led to personalised offerings for the consumers and therefore, more post-purchase satisfaction for them. The brand promise, brand identity prism and brand personality are being redefined keeping the digital trends in mind. Taking references from pop-culture, understanding what are the keywords that are trending and social media listening have become crucial for the brands as these play an important role in keeping the brands relevant.
The following are the different digital media tools available –
- Company Website
- Email Communication
- Social Media Platforms
- Search Engines
- Banner Ads
- Mobile Applications
- Mobile/SMS Communication
Challenges Faced By The Brands
The challenges faced by the brands in the digital era are immense. The most crucial one among them is informed consumers. The consumers, today, are extremely well-informed because of the plethora of information available online – they can understand the quality of the products, available variants in the market and comparison of prices as well. This has led to ‘showrooming’ as well. False promises and incorrect content won’t lead to conversions of such educated customers. Therefore, this acts as a challenge for brands so that they maintain information symmetry at all points in time.
Another challenge is that of a fragile brand image. The digital media gives the control in the hands of the consumers. This change has led to two-way communication between brands. The brand image may get impacted by even a single negative review on social media platforms. Once the digital media catches that trend, the image can be tarnished beyond repair.
Also, the challenge faced by brands is that with the presence of digital media, it has become easier to copy the content, especially in the case of brands which are available online only. Ideas like Uber-Ola; Zomato-Swiggy or even Amazon-Flipkart are cases where the idea was inspired by an existing brand.
Lastly, branding becomes a challenge, in the digital era, because there are multiple touchpoints for the consumer. Some of the target groups are present in a certain media and others in the rest, thus it becomes important to have an Omni-channel strategy such that branding is similar on all such platforms without giving into cross-posting.
Opportunities in the Digital Era
Due to the incoming of digital media, the opportunities have grown manifold for the brands so much so that there are certain companies that could not have been established had the digital era not come into the picture. One such company is Amazon. The E-Commerce world could not have been leveraged had digital era or technology not been introduced.
One of the main opportunities for branding in the digital era is the ability to reach customers in a more customised fashion. The reach of the brands has increased with the presence of digital media. Platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp have made branding and marketing easier and market penetration has increased.
Secondly, social media has invented the concept of earned and shared media – while earlier brands used to write content in the form of owned and paid media, now their existing (and satisfied) customers are their strongest advocates because potential customers get influenced by them more than any brochure or website. Reviews play an important role in today’s world. Another opportunity is that consumers play an equal role in co-creating the brand with the firms. The opinions and insights of the customers are extremely important and therefore, brands are spending millions to understand customer insights and gain knowledge of the need gaps they could fill.
The brands that evolve with the changing times are the ones that will stay in the picture, otherwise, even the top brands can become irrelevant in a matter of months such as Nokia. Therefore, it has become evidently crucial to leverage the opportunities that the digital era provides and be quick to respond to change. The inertia of sticking to the old rules needs to be removed.
The brands that move with the time and push towards staying relevant are the brands which will see the light of the day, in the near future.