Manage a brand successfully in times of digital marketing, a flexible, innovative and attentive i-branding approach is best. The customer has developed to collect all necessary information easily. He has the power to talk back and speak up and needs to be treated as such. Due to social media a shift is necessary and when done right, brand building is certainly not as scary as it might look.
Most importantly, digital marketing requires a different approach to deliver a brand building strategy via new social media channels. This is a short guide on how to implement your branding in internet marketing, which is also available on youtube.
Brand building nowadays can be very disturbing. The life of a brand and marketing manager becomes more and more complex with additional channels, apps and other means of digital marketing. The speed of innovation is constantly accelerating and it is hard to keep up. Additionally, with social media and internet marketing the classic approach of sender – recipient communication has changed. A less controllable pin-ball game applies in which companies have to learn to steer strategies differently. On top of that every marketing manager has heard about disastrous campaigns spinning off into controversy such as Greenpeace answer to Nestlé’s Kitkat advertisement “Have a break”, in which the company was heavily attacked by environmentalists and the general public for the use of palm oil in their products. Pure hedonistic marketing message as previously broadly used just will not do the job anymore – brand managers need to be more creative.
With these things in mind, how do you make sure that your brand is safeguarded, your brand values promoted und perceived in the intended way? Well there are a couple of important things to keep in mind:
Invest even more in relationship building when following a digital marketing strategy
First of all, a good relationship to your internal and external audience is key. It is vital to understand the needs of your target groups and stakeholders and communicate accordingly when considering i-branding. Listen to your counterparts, consider their input and act accordingly and communicate back. This will strengthen the link to your contacts.
Communicate well internally and externally
Furthermore, be sure to align every communication to your values may it be internally or externally. In times, where almost everyone has a public social media profile on Facebook or Linkedin, it is important that employees know the values, are enthusiastic about them and act accordingly. Use the opportunity to convert your employees into brand ambassadors. Same applies to external partners. Make sure to inform your distributors and resellers about your values in a smart and interesting way so they become promoters of your services.
Be transparent and keep your promise – in internet marketing you cannot hide
In addition to that: Transparency has become more and more important. Walk the talk. Be predictable and keep your promises to build trust. As with any other human interaction reliability pays off. Stay with your values and think of ways to implement them in everyday life. Be transparent and also do not be afraid to communicate bad news. With your customer base being interlinked through all kinds of social media platforms, there is no more hiding. People will find out and this will fire back.
Support interactive communication in digital marketing
Especially product review platforms and modern technologies enable customers to exchange their views and experiences with your brand. In finding clever ways such as your own blog, a user forum or test groups for new products you have the possibility to participate and steer your audience or at least to have insight into what is happening in your peer group. Enable sharing and content creation by providing stimulating questions and contents.
Provide tailored offers supports your brand building
Equally, automated marketing services offer new possibilities of personalization. By using the data generated from various platforms and the information the customers have voluntarily provided targeted messages per customer segment and personalized contents help to increase the loyalty of your customers. For example configurators where potential buyers have the possibility to pick and choose their product in the right color and giving them the opportunity to see how the product will look help to collect information and to make more customer specific product proposals in the future.
Be innovative in social media
In addition to that, listening to your customer helps you to innovate. Some customers have needs that they communicate via social networks or your blog. Take these ideas up and use them in your innovative brain storming sessions. Look out for new apps to make your website more user-friendly or search for more customer service in fields that are not directly connected to your service. Try to offer forums where interested customers have the possibility to exchange.
A good example of promising social media strategy here would be a travel experience site on Facebook where people have the possibility to share tips on the best locations in popular vacation destinations. The same is true for a waste water treatment group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3168053/profile) with over 15k members initialized by a compressor manufacturerin which employees of municipal waste water plants exchange on special requirements, changes in environmental norms and everyday problems in the industry.
From brand guardian to brand host in digital marketing
“We need to understand that it is a multidimensional world that we live in and in this complexity it is impossible for brand managers to guard the image of their brands in the way that the vicious dog Cerberus in Greek mythology was believed to guard the gates to Hades. There is a multitude of influences that brand managers simply cannot control, so they must accept the inevitable consequence, which is that they must let go!”(Christodoulides, 2008, pp. 291-292).
As such, the image of a host describes the role of the new brand manager best. We have the possibility to steer our guests (=customers) into a certain direction or facilitate certain discussions. It is also not possible to over impose obvious brand messages on our contacts. We can provide space (=forums), set environments and the tone of voice as well as present ourselves as welcoming and friendly in the digital marketing context. “People join in freely because they enjoy and learn from the discussion – but only if you are accepted by the other participants. Those in the company who execute should naturally be at home with the culture and rules of each social network.” (Barwise and Meehan, 2010 p. 5)
As a result : To manage a brand successfully in the digital context, a flexible, innovative and attentive i-branding approach is best. Most of all, the customer has developed from formerly being a child that received information coming from some distant authority to a grown up consumer. He is able to collect all necessary information easily, has the power to talk back and speak up. He needs to be treated as an adult. A shift is necessary and when done right, i-branding is certainly not as scary as it might look.
- The Role of Business to Business Marketers in the Digital Age
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Barwise and Meehan (2010). The one thing you must get right when building a brand, Harvard Business Review, December 2010, 1-5
Christodoulides, G. (2008). Breaking free from the industrial age paradigm of branding. Journal of Brand Management, 15(4), 291-293.
Christodoulides, G. (2008). Branding in the post-internet e, Marketing Theory, December 2, 2009, 141-144
Lipiäinen, H., & Karjaluoto, H. (2015). Industrial branding in the digital age. Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, 30 (6), 733-741.
Vernuccio, M. (2014). Communicating corporate brands through social media: An exploratory study, International Journal of Business Communication 2014, Vol. 51 (3) 211-233