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Digital focus threatens brand strategy

News, 09 January 2017
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LONDON: Brand strategy needs "rebooting" for the digital age, according to an industry figure whose research indicates the discipline is being neglected by senior marketers trying to keep abreast of the latest digital developments.

Writing in the current issue of Market Leader, David Taylor, founder of the brandgym network of marketing coaches, notes the growing importance of social and digital channels and the attention being paid to them.

He highlights the fact that even though 91% of a survey of more than 100 marketing directors agreed that "The key to effective digital marketing is clear brand positioning", a majority also agreed that "With the focus on digital/social marketing, brand strategy gets overlooked".

This apparent disconnect between strategic intent and executional focus can have serious consequences, he warns, as the lack of a coherent brand strategy to guide marketing across all channels not only reduces immediate marketing effectiveness but also risks brand equity being diluted over time, as brand messaging and experiences become fragmented.

"The challenge is not to totally reinvent brand strategy," he advises, "but rather to 'reboot' it for the digital age."

To that end, Taylor identifies three main drivers of success, including deeper consumer insight that goes beyond brand positioning within a category to explore the role of the brand in consumers' lives and in popular culture.

As an example, he singles out Carling Black Label's Be the Coach campaign in South Africa, which was about making everyday men feel like "champion men" who deserved a champion beer.

Allied to insight is the need to have "a clear sense of purpose about the broader role a brand plays in people's lives and society" – something that two-thirds of survey respondents felt was increasingly important.

But, Taylor noted, it is necessary "to ensure brand purpose is relevant to the category in question and avoids 'laddering up' so high that it loses touch with reality".

Finally, brand positioning outputs need to be simpler and more visual, as the basis for inspiring creative briefs that work across multiple touchpoints. Taylor noted that shipping company Maersk Line has successfully adapted its content for different social channels in order to illustrate its unifying brand idea – "Your Promise. Delievered" – and generate leads rather than likes.

Data sourced from Market Leader

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