Importance of Branding in the Digital Age
Every business needs a brand strategy, especially in the digital age. The digital landscape can easily become fragmented, if you’re putting your branding secondary to your digital plan. This way of doing business online ensures that consumers have anything and everything they want, literally at their fingertips and in real time. Unless your branding efforts are strong, customers will not recognize, remember or even consider your products or services amidst your many competitors.
We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest collection of Global Digital 2019 reports reveals the following compelling digital key trends and insights:
- There are 11 billion unique mobile users in the world today, up 100 million (2 percent) in the past year.
- There are 39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9 percent) versus January 2018.
- There are 48 billion social media users in 2019, with the worldwide total growing by 288 million (9 percent) since this time last year.
- 26 billion people used social media on mobile devices in January 2019, with a growth of 297 million new users representing a year-on-year increase of more than 10 percent.
The sheer numbers of digital users around the globe speak to the immense possibilities that businesses have in the digital arena.
Thus, branding in the digital age is more important than ever because it offers you an opportunity to:
Intensify customer experience
Tactics without a strong strategy fall short of reaching business goals, no matter the landscape—digital or not. Your business strategy begins with executing your brand promise. As such, your marketing strategy needs to revolve around consistently following through on this promise, to intensify customer experience, across all of your digital channels. Engaging customers across all digital touch points in their everyday lives is the best way to invite prospects into your brand experience.
The fact that someone needs to see a message seven times before they remember it has not changed. According to Salesforce, 75 percent of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social), with 73 percent likely to switch brands if they don’t get it. Customer loyalty and attrition are determined by every customer experience. Moreover, the research found that 76 percent of customers now report that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, switching from brand to brand to find an experience that matches their expectations.
Customers hold the power today because of the massive amount of information and choices that digital technology allows. In return, we know much more about our customers thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). This method of leveraging customer data anticipates your customer’s next move and improves the customer journey. Customers now expect us to know about their wants and needs. Therefore, they demand that we serve them relevant content across the channels they engage with on a daily basis. If they don’t know your brand, providing content they’re interested in is the best way to open the door to your offerings.
Branding has never been solely about a pretty logo and quirky tagline. It’s about tried and true delivering on your promises, through all of the different mediums your target audience engages with on a daily basis. Be sure that your messaging matches not only their interests, across the customer decision journey, but also is appropriate for the specific medium to deepen their experience.
Improve competitive advantage
While consistency in your look and feel across digital channels is incredibly important, your brand promise is the best entity you have to offer to your specific customers. This is the emotionally driven take-away to inspire your customers, keep them returning for more and even allow them to pay higher prices for your products or services. Your brand promise is your competitive advantage in the marketplace. It can include simple things such as quality, selection, status, inspiration or even fast delivery.
Whatever is most important to your target audience needs to come through in all touch points and channels, as well as with how you deliver on your promise. You might have heard that a brand is not only the products or services offered by a company, but mainly the promise and values the company puts forth. This is critically important, but only partially true. Your brand actually lies in the perception of prospects and customers. It’s the collective impression—the lingering resonance of feelings that stays with a customer or drives a lead to engage with your business. Good branding is a lasting impression that sets expectations for your product or service.
Tactical elements of digital marketing campaigns including social media, SEO/SEM, email marketing, behavioral targeting and programmatic can get incredibly disconnected and fragmented across vehicles, if your branding isn’t strong. As a result, customers will engage with another company over yours if your brand promise—be it through image choices, targeted content or whatever the medium—doesn’t come through.
A strong brand will always provide you a competitive edge in the market. It’s a given that enhanced credibility, ease of conversion and earned media will happen naturally with a smaller cost-per-conversion when your brand holds its weight in the market.
Increase credibility and trust
Customers want to do business with people they trust. Your branding efforts need to give your business credibility and affinity with your customer’s values. Don’t just deliver content. Instead, deliver relative, emotional customer experiences. Developing a powerful, recognizable and relatable offering—which sets you apart from other companies and holds strong through all of the different channels—will solidify brand trust. Customers value trust more than obtaining products or services at a lower cost.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, stated by AdAge, one of the key takeaways include that consumers ranked brand trust as one of the top factors they consider when making a purchase, with 81 percent of survey respondents saying that they “must be able to trust the brand to do what is right.” A majority of consumers also reported that they would prefer to purchase from a familiar, trusted brand overall.
Digital channels, such as social media and online reviews, which consumers trust, allow increased personal interactions between your brand and your prospects.
Showcase shared values
Your branded ‘content’ should match your prospects’ and customers’ values and inspire them to re-engage with you, when they’re interested in making a purchase decision. In addition, these target audiences expect you to remember them.
However, what are you doing for them to remember you? They want consistency in what your brand stands for, across all marketing touch points, along the consumer decision journey. The messaging also needs to be appropriate for each touch point. In addition, they want what’s important to them, to be important to you too.
To sum up, the first time I saw the letters IRL, as I scanned a social media post, I didn’t recognize the acronym. I doubled back to look at the context of the sentence and thought that couldn’t possibly be short for “In Real Life”. Yet, it was. Have things in the digital realm really come so far that marketing in ‘real life’ is now a specialty item? Apparently so.
In the digital age or in ‘real life’ not much has changed when it comes to branding. Customers want consistency of your brand promise. Although, how it’s delivered has changed dramatically. On top of that, the role of branding in digital marketing is constantly evolving. Building a brand is never ‘done’. It’s an ongoing process of refining and growing the defining characteristics of your business or offerings. Still, it’s well worth the effort. Strong digital branding ensures that you’re always in the consideration stage, as your prospects and customers see and engage with your online content.
Do you want to learn more about how to best position your brand in the digital age? Contact us today, to get the conversation started.