Branding in the Digital Age: A Survival Guide

Today’s consumer market is flooded with choices, so it’s more important than ever to differentiate your brand from the competition.

There are a number of digital channels and tools available to creatively stand out from the rest, ensuring your brand is quickly recognizable, easily understood and relevant in the market today – and in the future.

The Banfield team has come up with a list of five tips to help you navigate branding in the digital age.

1. Get personal
It is a well-known fact that we, as humans, crave connections with others who share our values. So it only makes sense that we seek out brands that share those same beliefs too. Personifying your brand is an effective way to go about identifying these relatable traits.

Is your brand male or female? If your brand were a celebrity, who would it be? Is your brand an energized yuppie, or a low-key retiree living the rural life? Once you are able to personify your brand, you will have a better idea of how to engage your target audience.

One Canadian company that recently went above and beyond to depict their core brand value of community building is Tim Hortons. The company transformed a Calgary home into a local shop for one day, with the purpose of attracting new employees to the team. The message “We’re not just in your neighbourhood. We’re your neighbours,” was used throughout the day while they invited those in the community to talk to Tim’s team members over coffee, to experience the brand first-hand.

2. Customize for your consumers
According to Strategy Online, our culture, especially with the millennial generation, is becoming very self expressive. Social media platforms, like Instagram, are giving users an easy way to communicate their own ‘personal brand.’

This desire for personalization is now expected in our purchases too. Consumers crave customized products, services and experiences. Finding a way for your brand to incorporate this will only strengthen your consumer relationships.

Coca-Cola’s recent “Share a Coke” campaign customized their classic product by replacing the iconic logo with 1 of over 250 popular names. The idea is to purchase one for yourself, and one for a friend. The campaign ran in over 80 countries across the world, and lead to a seven per cent jump in sales.

3. Optimize everything for mobile
It is not uncommon for people to watch TV, surf the Internet on a laptop or tablet, and text on a smartphone all at once. This simultaneous usage of multiple devices means that mobile-optimized websites are no longer an option – they are a requirement.

Although content should be more streamlined for your mobile site, your branding elements should remain the same. Ensure your colour palette and iconography are consistent, so that users can enjoy a similar experience while on the go. These mobile sites also allow for extra features, such as deals based on location.

Banfield recently worked with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SOGC) to create a newly-branded SOGC Pregnancy website. The organization’s choice to go mobile is just one example of communicating that they are a leading resource for pregnant women across the country and the world.

4. Keep it short
Twitter challenged us to communicate our messages in 140 characters or less. And now short-form video apps such as Instagram and Vine are doing the same. What can you say in just 15 seconds of video? What about six seconds?

It is no secret that today’s audiences have short attention spans, so it is important to produce content that can be digested quickly to ensure your brand messaging is heard before the user closes the screen to move onto the latest viral craze. The advantage of this trend is, of course, that these branded videos are easy and affordable to produce.

General Electric used Vine to create a six second science experiment showing what happens when you combine milk, food colouring and dish soap. The video’s success prompted the company to ask consumers to create their own #6SecondScience Vines. The series demonstrates the brand’s innovative and quirky side, resulted in over 1 million consumer engagements.

5. Respond in real-time
Real-time marketing, as defined by eMarketer is, “personalized content in response to consumer interactions.” The Internet provides a constant stream of communication between consumers and brands, so it is important to keep up with these conversations through website interactions, live website chats or social media.

These communications can include responses to positive or negative feedback from your audience, or posts about current events that are happening. But, of course, if you are posting about current events, be sure you are adding to the conversation in a productive way. Your post should not have the sole purpose of self-promotion. And if you plan to use a trending hashtag, do your research to ensure it is something your ‘brand personality’ would follow.

Oreo’s ‘dunk in the dark,’ real-time response during the Superbowl power outage has created a trend of brands reacting to what is going on in the world through well-timed, witty content. The latest being the KitKat #Bendgate tweet. The brand responded to reports of the new iPhone 6 accidentally bending with an image of the candy bar, snapped in half with the text, “We don’t bend, we #break.” The post was retweeted 100 times in the first 10 minutes, and as of right now, has over 28,000 retweets and 14,000 likes.

Let us guide your brand to digital success
If you think your organization could benefit from one or more of the above tips, our team would love to take your branding to the next level.

Have you had success with one of the above strategies? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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