The digital revolution has left an indisputable mark on the world of branding. Suddenly, we have an abundance of digital agencies, digital strategists, digital designers and an entire digital lingo, such that one could be forgiven for thinking of digital as an entirely different animal. Or is it merely another channel or tool for building brands and engaging consumers in an increasingly connected world? And have we as an industry created our very own digital monster?
One simply needs to review current literature to realise how terminology and practices surrounding digital are feeding this monster. In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of a plethora of ‘new’ terms, prefixed with an ‘e’: ‘eBranding’, ‘eCulture’, ‘eVision’ and even ‘eStrategy’. But does a brand need a separate ‘eStrategy’? The touch-points might differ to those in the offline world, but surely the strategic brand DNA should stay the same, and digital just a component of the larger strategy? The often siloed approach of traditional branding versus ‘eBranding’ is hampering our ability to harness the full power of the brand value chain. And, in terms of building sustainable equity, we would be better served by dispensing with the faddish jargon, bridging the rift that the digital age has created in our industry and saying, collectively: e-nough is enough.
By the same token, we should not underplay the various ways in which consumers are adjusting to the digital world – one of these being the emergence of new ‘online personae’, to complement their already multi-faceted offline characters and personalities. How consumers interact with each other (and with brands) is often vastly dissimilar in the online versus offline world. And indeed, it varies from platform to platform. With this in mind, is it really digitalper se that is the different animal? Or is it rather today’s consumer who is the different animal, camouflaging and adapting to the digital world and what it enables? So too, could we not argue that ‘digital branding’ and ‘digital strategy’ are simply branding and strategy – for a digital world?
Mike dos Santos, The Strategy Department
At The Strategy Department we develop clear strategies that give brands a strong foundation on which to grow. With our combined experience across multiple industries and channels, we build strategies that deliver measurable results.
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