Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Don't let your branding strategy get lost in the digital shuffle.

What's happened to branding in the digital marketing era?

It seems like 99 out of 100 posts/articles/reports these days are focused on social media or some other tactical tool that is the next big thing in the world of digital communications.

Recently, I've been seeing more (or maybe it's just my noticing more) on branding.  And that's a good thing.

In his latest book, Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant, David Aaker analyzes case studies on dozens of successful brands to offer guidance on how to create or dominate new categories or subcategories and thus make competitors irrelevant.  He stresses the importance of identifying and building new categories and subcategories that contain innovations that customers "must have" and that competitors cannot or don't offer.  He also points our that these customer "must haves" can involve brand characteristics that are beyond attributes or benefits, such as brand personality, organizational values, social programs or self-expressive benefits.

In a recent Marketing News article, he reiterated the importance of establishing brand relevance in a competitive world of me-too products, and  the need to become an "exemplar" of the new category or subcategory in order to stave off competition.  By positioning  your brand as the innovator and quality standard, your brand can define others as imitators and inferior.

The 2012 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), now in its 16th year, was just released, and concludes that emotional engagement factors are driven by the brand’s “values” and the consumer’s brand “experience.” In a post published by MediaPost, Brand Experience, Values Increasingly Drive Loyalty, Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president,stated that “across most of the 83 product categories studied, we found that consumers’ loyalty now hinges more than ever before on the degree to which a brand has established a clear core value proposition -- a differentiator that goes beyond the basic utility of a product or service.”  H went on to say, “Today, delivering on the ‘rational’ reasons to buy a brand -- good or superior quality and value for the price -- is just the ‘door-opener.’ If that’s all a brand is doing, it’s in grave danger of being commoditized. In fact, it’s not a brand; it’s a category placeholder.”

It's good to see that some folks have not lost sight of the basics.  As we are looking for ways to succeed  in today's digital marketing era, don't lose sight of the importance of a solid brand as the underpinning for your social media and other marketing communication strategies.  The best tools are meaningless unless they are in the right hands!