GLOBAL: Many brands continue to see digital as primarily a response-led medium, but digital channels, when used well, can play a fundamental and complementary role in brand building, an industry figure maintains.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How digital channels can help build a brand, Oliver Feldwick, head of digital strategy at The&Partnership London, explains that the mechanics and measurement of digital have led to a focus on short-term metrics such as clicks.

But there is no strong correlation between clicks and any meaningful brand metric and he argues that the obsession with clicks has distracted marketers from brand building.

Feldwick takes brand building to include fame, emotional associations, distinctiveness and a compelling brand narrative – all of which digital can deliver if done correctly – and highlights four pillars around which the process can be built.

Brands need to play to the many strengths of digital while avoiding the equally numerous pitfalls, something they can only achieve by properly understanding the different roles that digital plays in people’s lives, from offering immediate solutions to immersive experiences, and how different platforms and formats address these.

Mobile consumption patterns from Facebook, for example, show that roughly 70% of mobile time is a lean forward, immediate consumption moment, while 30% of the time can be a more immersive ‘lean back’. This can help give a weighting for content, says Feldwick.

There are also common-sense considerations for digital creative, much of which will be consumed on the smaller screens of mobile devices. Typically, it will need to be shorter with the main message landing early and be “feed-friendly”.

Distribution requires investment – the idea that organic sharing and viral reach will build a brand is a myth, Feldwick states.

“Building brands in digital requires a mix of paid media, PR outreach and influence and ideally some organic amplification to get a consistent, measurable scale and achieve the excess share-of-voice needed to build a brand.”

Finally, measurement is critical and marketers have to resist jumping on short-term metrics to change activity before brand impact can be properly assessed.

They must establish a platform-neutral, balanced set of measures that look at both long- and short-term impacts, he emphasises.

“Using digital to build brands shouldn’t be an afterthought or a distraction, but should be part of how we work with brands in the modern age.”

Sourced from WARC