Rethink Branding

As a brand manager for 3 years and having the passion for brand management since almost 10 years ago, I always reconsider how brand works in reality and how meaningful and influential to build a strong brand.

It seems as a silly question: is brand useful? Those theories and frameworks that Aaker, Keller and Kolter have perfectly crafted DO make sense. But what I see is the basic principles should be always updated and revised because of the changes in marketing and the shifts in digital life.

What I meant by “changes in marketing” is the evolution and particularly the saturation of marketing information and the repetition of marketing practices. Essentially, my question is how effective if you use the same strategies years after years. Consumers are learning and they become immune to marketing bombards. Further, they probably will be annoyed by most commercials or direct selling information today. Marketing information overload taught ordinary people to avoid what marketers want to say. In the meantime, many marketing tactics we have learned are becoming POPs, making consumers tired to listen.

Brand still works. The important factor we need to address here is how you build excellent “brand experience” or core offerings. So brand is not only about marketing communications or creative ads, it’s more about the integrative whole of tangible and intangibles benefits to customers. Every contact points between the consumers and products/services are components of brand experience. Very often today, mere “branding” effort would only broadcast bad publicities if your brand experience is not right at the first place. In contrast, if you offer compelling brand experience, advocacy may make brands shine.

To get this rethinking of branding going, I am curious about how different building a brand is in the digital world. Edelman offers a really good approach to this. From a decision funnel perspective, many companies spend money at the wrong “contact points”, for example, consumers now are more influenced by advocacy or reviews from their peers. An neglect on these channels may lead to a failure to influence purchase decisions. Instead of a funnel, the consumer decision marking process is more like an iterative circle consists of “consider”, “evaluate”, “buy”, “enjoy”, “advocate” and “bond”. This is called the “Consumer Decision Journey”. What Edelman suggests is companies should focus on the stages or contact points which become more relevant today–e.g. advocate and bond.

I am glad that these two articles give me great motivations to rethink branding in the Internet age. To me, “brand” is always useful in marketing, the core has not changed, it just the way to achieve this changed.

Inspired by: [1] James G. (2011) “Why the ‘Power of Branding” Is a Myth”  [2] Edelman. D (2010) “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places” Havard Business Review


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