This digital age has completely transformed the way in which people consume branded content. Brands are no longer about function, they have become more about building an identity and creating a symbol for the user. Developments like increased use of mobile devices (tablets and smartphones); advertising algorithms and programmatic buying have presented a unique challenge to brands to redefine their brand and marketing strategy; and tune into the modern requirements.
What is a modern brand? It is what people perceive - what they feel, say and think about a particular product/service/company. A strong brand envisions to achieve a coherent experience with the product/service at all points of time, and through all channels of interaction.
Digital platforms - website, social media, blogs, etc. have become some of the most important channels to engage with customers; given their reach and amount of time customers and prospects spend on these platforms. Thus, crafting a digital strategy becomes critical for any brand that wants to grow and build its customer base.
While going digital, brands face the following major challenges:
- Formulating a strategy: Brands need a sound understanding of the markets, the consumers' preferences and their thinking, and the product positioning; in order to craft a strategy that would have the most impact. Often, this would involve multiple teams brainstorming together - to develop a strategy that not only reaches consumers in the present, but also creates a sound platform for the future.
- Transparency: Modern brands do not have major control of their perceptions online. It is the customers who build the brand and their perception, especially on social media. Brands need to be transparent and very careful while interacting with customers - one negative instance is all it takes to go viral and have a major negative impact.
- User Experience: User experience has become such an important component of strategy, that major institutions have now begun to offer formal education about how to craft the perfect UX. Identifying the customer journey, and customizing the experience at every step, is important to maintain brand recall. This is more crucial in the case of mobile applications - the average time a user spends to evaluate an application's utility and functionality is less than a minute.
- Making use of Data: In the digital world, there is a wealth of data available about markets, customers, purchasing patterns, and the like. Every brand needs to gather and analyze data about customer buying preferences, strategy performance metrics, A/B testing results, etc. Data is the key to crafting the perfect strategy and unlocking the hidden potential in any market.
- Personalization: People are bombarded with brand messages constantly, from the toothpaste when they wake up to the alarm app when they sleep. In such a scenario, there is one tool which can be employed by brands to hook the customer - personalization. Brands should strive to customize content that they feed to customers, in order to make them feel more connected.
- Multiple Touch-Points: It is not sufficient if a brand just has a website. Customers interface with multiple devices and multiple channels every day - search engines, social media, blogs, mobile apps, etc. in addition to websites. Creating a strong presence across all these channels is essential for any brand to maintain recall.
Many brands still employ digital marketing without a strategy in place. However, data strongly suggests that keeping the above factors in mind and crafting a strategy will not only optimize resource consumption, but will also boost results manifold. After all, "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do".