Brands in the digital age: Invert the accepted

Toby Southgate
The Brand Union

To keep pace with changing consumer behaviour, brands need to build businesses with consumer needs at the centre, rather than the classic brand development process of building business strategy outwards towards the consumers.

I recently attended New York's Advertising Week, and wished I'd instigated a game of catchphrase bingo. 'Multi-channel', 'content strategy', 'consumer-focused productisation'… even the odd appearance of 'convergence', which I'd hoped had been left back in 2010. Apparently not.

These contemporary(ish) additions to the marketing lexicon are essentially all saying the same simple thing: the world continues to change. Brands and businesses need to work harder and look at different indicators in order to understand how to engage better with their core audiences, whoever they may be. And what they can't do is take what they've always done on television and turn it into a YouTube movie, or translate a press campaign online. More often than not, consumers move more quickly than brands. So how can brands start to get ahead, rather than lag behind? The answer lies in a different approach to brand building that starts rather than ends with the user's perspective.