How to Use Digital for Brand Marketing
We’ve all seen commercials like this one:
Branding is a critically important component of any marketing communications strategy. While everyone understands brand communications in the context of logos and visual identity, branding’s most important role is actually in customer relationship building. At their best, brand communications are subtle and inspiring. At their worst…well, you’ve seen the video!
In today’s marketing environment, the brand relationship is a two way value exchange; the brand takes action in order to create connections with the consumer at a rational, emotional and societal level, which in turn drives customers to take action (i.e. make a purchase, share personal information, recommend the company or product etc.) such that both the brand and the audience benefit.
Trust in Digital
Recognizing that new age branding is a two way exchange, it is important to understand which channels the consumer trusts. A recent example of this was shown in the results from the 15th annual Edelman Trust Barometer. For the first time ever, search engines are the most trusted source of information over traditional media channels. In addition, search engines are the majority of respondents’ first choice for general information versus traditional media sources (TV and Newspaper), tied with TV for the first source of breaking news, and the first source to confirm/validate breaking news versus these traditional media news sources. Search engine results comprise an aggregate of the same single source channels that they were polled along side. While not specifically indicated in the study, it is speculated that it is the perceived comprehensiveness of the results and the empowerment of the individual for finding the results that creates the level of trust versus other channels.
Up until recently, most brand communications have been the realm of traditional one-way media channels; print, TV, collateral packages, public relations, event marketing, etc. As the concept of branding becomes more of a two-way exchange, brand communications need to evolve beyond these traditional media channels to meet the needs of this changing audience. This is where digital media can, and should, be taking a much more prominent role in your day-to-day brand communications in the form of a holistic digital strategy. A strategy that includes both ongoing activities and periodic boosts to maintain a consistent, and robust brand presence that responds to and engages with your audience.
Sounds good, but how will this all work?
Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing
To learn about you, your audience must be able to easily find you. Search engine optimization ensures that your site will be easily found and highly ranked within search engine results pages. Content marketing ensures that the content on your site is best suited to your target audience. Both need to be monitored, tested and maintained on a continuous basis to ensure relevance and good results.
Social Media Strategy
Much like your SEO and content strategy, a strong social media strategy is necessary to ensure that you are present where your audience is and that you are providing this audience with content that keeps them interested, engaged and up to date with your brand. The goal is to cultivate an audience of loyal brand followers that will help spread the word about your brand to their social circles, as over and above the information that you share on your social media properties, information shared by friends and family is the most trusted content on social networking and content sharing sites.
At times it may be important to emphasize specific content or messaging in the short term. Current events, industry crises, company or competitor news and events, can all precipitate the need for such action, and a quick and precise response may be needed. This is where paid media can play a role:
Paid Digital Media
Paid digital includes all purchased online ad placement and includes Search Engine Marketing, paid Social Media, and Native advertising to name just a few. A timely and measured response can be extremely important during the events named above, and can be a make or break moment for some organizations. During such times, paid ads can be utilized to boost, or conversely decrease, your brand’s presence around key topics, or to target specific audience segments based on behaviours, geographies, or demographic characteristics. It can also be used to drive key traffic to specific content on your website or social media properties to emphasize a position or issue a statement. The advantage of digital over traditional media is that ads can be bought and placements can appear within minutes, rather than the cycle taking days (or longer) with traditional media placements.
What Does This Mean For You As a Marketer?
The two way value exchange model is an evolution of the one-sided brand-customer relationship of the past, and is reflected in how today’s consumers interact with and consume with media. As we’ve seen in all areas of marketing, today’s audiences are no longer passive consumers of ‘advertising’, they are active seekers and sharers of information. Not simply content to trust what we tell them, but wanting to actively engage with the information and be part of the conversation. As a result, our branding efforts must evolve, allowing the marketer to provide their message through a source that the consumer trusts and can easily build on and share.
Sound complicated? Let our team help you build your digital brand strategy to keep everyone in on the conversation about your brand!