THE MEANING OF ‘BRAND’ IN A DIGITAL AGE

THE MEANING OF ‘BRAND’ IN A DIGITAL AGE

Originally, the word ‘brand’ came from the Norse word “brandr” which meant, “to burn”. In the Middle Ages, farmers protected their livestock by “burning” a unique and identifying mark with a hot iron on their animals and livestock (and even in some cases on prisoners!). This form of identification was also used on goods like bricks and pottery as well to help identify their maker as well.

This unique mark was conspicuous but by the very nature of the use, whether on livestock or prisoners, it was one-dimensional, simplistic and flat.

Additionally, the Scandinavian word for burning is “branna” and a fire in Swedish is a “brand”.

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary a Brand is a particular making of goods, an identifying trade mark/label, or to impress unforgettably on one’s mind. Brand is also a word that is used as a daily part of our vocabulary and written extensively about despite the fact; most people mistakenly use the word or the role it actually plays.

How many times have you heard a senior marketer say, “lets increase the branding on the pack” or “is the pack well branded enough?” Or how many times have you heard an executive state “which Brand do you want?” Basically, the word Brand is misused and abused by consumers and marketers on a daily basis.

Dr Larry Light describes a brand as “a covenant between a marketer and the customer. The value of that brand is directly proportional to the value of the trust people have in that mark.”

Major International FMCG’s company MARS, defines a brand as “more than a trademark. A brand is a trustworthy, relevant, distinctive, promise that will consistently satisfy a specific consumer’s specific expectation. A trademark is defined by the marketer. A brand is defined by the consumer”.

And Jeremy Bullmore is often quoted as saying this about Brands “We (consumers) build an image as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws we chance upon”

But, today more than ever before, profits and loyalty are built with a close relationship between the consumer and the product or service. A Digital or Interactive Brand is more than a one-dimensional tagline, logo, jingle, typeface, sign or symbol, brand lore or other component used to identify the brand to the consumer.

Importantly, Digital and Interactive Brands have a depth and dimension that has only evolved since the advent of the Internet and other forms of interactive and electronic media and if implemented strategically, will create a sustainable competitive advantage for the marketer. Interactive Brands transcend traditional “main media” boundaries that traditional Advertising Agencies and Marketers have been

The new economy

With more information being produced in the past two years than in the last 5,000 years, largely thanks to the Internet, and the fact that we are beamed endless television commercials via satellite, newspaper and magazines are becoming even more fragmented, it is no wonder why consumers are getting overloaded and overexposed with media noise.

Our current output of data is approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes a day.  As the world steadily becomes more connected with an ever-increasing number of electronic devices, that’s only set to grow over the coming years. Additionally, recent research also confirms that more than 3.5 million text messages were sent every minute. Now, it’s around 15.2 million texts, a 334 percent increase.

The type of data created is expanding rapidly across a wide range of industries: biotech, fintech, energy, IoT, healthcare, automotive, space and deep sea explorations, cybersecurity, social media, cloud, telecom, consumer electronics, manufacturing, gaming and entertainment – the list goes on. Yet, recent research has found that less than 0.5 percent of that data is actually being analyzed for operational decision making.

Importantly, as building brands as generally been based on building brand awareness, in a passive, one-way or broadcast manner, Interactive Brands are about an experience, that a consumer thinks he can not get anywhere else. Interactive Brands are two-way, participatory and sustainable.

Conclusion:

Having helped pioneer Internet Marketing since the mid 1990’s before moving to San Francisco in 1999, I firmly believe an Interactive Brand embodies the loyalty, relevance, trust, conscience and impression that is indelibly etched in a consumer’s mind about why they selected a specific product and/or service and why they continue to have that brand in their repertoire.

Importantly, a Digital or Interactive Brand is the “glue” or “stickiness” that brings together the consumer with the brand at every point of contact. Whether it is via a television commercial, direct mail piece, radio, online, with the companies receptionist or any other point of brand contact, an Interactive Brand builds hooks and overcomes barriers of switching.

Additionally, current customers yield a Return on Investment (R.O.I) is approximately 3 to 7 times higher than prospects, so Interactive Brands help “lock” them in as well.

In the 1980 -1990s, financial directors and accountants woke up to the fact that Brands had a real value to an organization and that they were more than an intangible asset such as “Goodwill” on a company’s balance sheet.

A brand really adds value to a product and/or service. Brands can and do actually represents important benefits to customers. Benefits such as trust, prestige and a sense of belonging. And, in a rapidly changing world, the stability of some Brands can help customers recognize their own core values and achieve a sense of belonging.

Importantly, I believe the most successful brands focus on Users NOT Buyers. Where traditional brands focus on positioning their brands in the minds of their customers, digital or interactive brands focus on positioning their brands in the lives of their customers. Additionally, they engage customers more as users than as buyers, shifting their investments from pre-purchase promotion and sales to post-purchase renewal and advocacy.

I think a great way to end summarize this piece was a great quote from the legendary Tom Peters when he stated in ‘The Circle of Innovation’‘In this world of heavy communications flow through interactive and sensory-laden multi-media, product attributes and benefits are no longer sufficient to catch attention, to draw consumers. Businesses that engage consumers are those that afford them a memorable sensory experience that ties in with position of the company, product or service.’

Or… from Larry Light, a leading Advertising Researcher when he stated – “The marketing battle will be a battle of brands, a competition for brand dominance. Businesses and investors will recognize brands as the company’s most valuable assets. This is a critical concept. It is a vision about how to develop, strengthen, defend, and manage a business…. It will be more important to own markets than to own factories. The only way to own markets is to own market-dominant brands.”

Bottom-line, it sure is an interesting time to watch how interactive and digital brands are under immense scrutiny from consumers, Congress, regulators, platform owners like Facebook, Twitter and Google and all the Industry bodies scrambling after Mark Zuckerbergs most recent appearance at Congress.

Having helped pioneer Internet Marketing, I have always firmly believed when we launched two decades ago, we were always endeavoring to make an honest attempt to use the capabilities of the Internet to enhance our clients brand messages. I sure hope we can continue to assist great brands build deeper, more meaningful collaborations and partnerships in the years to come.

 

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About Geoff De Weaver: 

Super strategist who directs Fortune 500 clients to define their vision, create a strategy, and harness their internal innovation to grow their business or reinvent their products.

Geoff is a leading international expert on new business development, brand marketing, innovation, 1:1 and growth. He has also directly assisted hundreds of Fortune 500 brands and clients generate billions in new business revenue from North America to Asia to Europe.

Geoff has successfully built businesses, agencies, opened offices worldwide, saved companies and helped clients generate billions of dollars of revenue and growth with their brands. Soliciting advice and guidance, when appropriate, from a Board of Directors.

Management Experience ranges from “start-ups to” running Multinational companies with gross income of $65+ million, EBITA 23.2% and staffing in excess of 5,000+

I help Fortune 500 clients define their strategy, harness their internal innovation, grow their business and drive revenues. I get results! Visit me at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffdeweaver/ 

OR: http://geoffdeweaver.com/

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