Marketing Matters: Branding

In the latest in my Marketing Matters series I wanted to talk about branding and how we apply it to digital in a consistent way. I want to start with a little moan if you don’t mind.

Having built several brands from the ground up and rebranded many global organisations, one of my biggest frustrations is that many branding teams – internal or agency – still do not consider digital application when designing a brand of devising a refresh. This skill set is missing from even some of the biggest global brand consultancies and agencies and it gets me very hot under the collar.

These agencies will tell you all the usual cliches about how your brand is your company’s personality and you must live and breathe it at every touch point. Those cliches are absolutely right. But it is not possible if, when devising the visual identity, you completely fail to understand the application.

I have seen time and time again final guidelines produced that are focussed on logo and identity, print advertising, emails, PowerPoint templates and stationery but completely missing website and app application.  This, for me, has to be one of two issues: naivity or laziness.

There can be few people now that don’t consider digital when thinking of a company’s brand. No matter your industry people will interact with you digitally and applying your brand standards there is vital. Could it be that these agencies are so entrenched in 20th century process that they simply neglect the digital age? It seems unlikely.

What seems more likely is that it is very easy to produce standards for press advertising, stationery and other printed materials. It is simply a case of laying out a nice design and then printing it. It is far more challenging to consider how that rolls out into a responsive website, how interactive elements and videos might work, how an app or mobile presence plays out. When you have to be flexible and are constrained by space. When your customer has to interact in some way. This is when it becomes more difficult.

Far too often I see digital elements being presented like press adverts with no thought to how they work or being missed altogether. My message to any agency, consultant, team working on a rebrand is let’s please change this. A brand is indeed your personality and your personality does not only exist in certain circumstances.

Ok, rant over. Let’s get back on a more positive note.

In terms of integrating your brand across digital, here are some considerations:

1. Who are you and how can you bring your personality to life with the benefits of an interactive channel like the web or mobile? Can you create interactive tools or games? Can you create rich experiences and video series? Can you use gamification techniques?

2. Be consistent. Digital is not a gimmick. Don’t use your digital channels to do things that are too far removed from other channels just because you can. Yes, you can create apps and games but if your customers don’t want them and they don’t fit with who you are then don’t.

3. Consider your tone of voice in everything. For example, remember that your page titles and meta descriptions will be the first brand touch point for consumers who search for you. They need to be on brand too.

4. Social is a great channel with its own unique cultures. Each platform is different. You should customise to each in order to fit there but not at the expense of your brand. Find a way to fit your brand naturally into the tone and conversations of each network.

5. Conversion funnels are vital to sales as we all know. Think about how you might treat a customer tying to buy in your store (imagine face to face if your business doesn’t have stores). How can you bring your brand alive here with assistance, language etc?

6. Are your emails on brand. If you aim to treat your customers as unique and valued then is this reflected in your emails? Are you personalising the content (not just salutation)? Are you optimising send times? Time and design is obvious but it’s the frequency, targeting and timeliness that make the real difference.

These are just a few considerations to get you started.

The take away message – ensure digital is considered in the delivery of your brand. Ensure consistency and you will reap the rewards in awareness, engagement and conversion.

See more on branding, personalisation and digital strategy in my book, Digital Marketing Strategy.

Buy Digital Marketing Strategy by Simon Kingsnorth

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