Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seamless Branding in the Digital Age

Once upon a time, in a not so far away land, a brand was a product, service or name Marketeers would build grand.

Marketeers Mighty would buff, polish and make that brand shine. And with a knowing nod, assure nervous brass, everything would be fine.

"Your cash registers will undoubtedly ring", the Marketeers Mighty confident would sing.

"There are customers eager, who will buy what they're told, parked on one-way media streets paved with pure gold".

Spirited brass would return nod with a wink, shake hands with the Mighty and share in the drink.

The crafting of brand was well on its way; square ads pegged into three square holes each day.

But one day, uneasy brass noticed streets brimmed no longer with gold; and near empty tills spoke volumes about what was not sold.

"What happened to those three square holes?", brass were heard to cry. "Why do our ads, make no longer customers buy?“

Awkward silence filled the room.
Air hung heavy with gloom, dread and doom.

And marketeers, mighty no more, could only shake their heads, sigh and stare at the floor.

A Nike executive was recently quoted as saying, "We're not in the business of keeping media companies alive. We're in the business of connecting with consumers". Hardly surprising to see major advertisers like Nike routinely slashing budgets previously allocated to television networks and other traditional media companies.

The traditional advertising model (30-second TV and radio spots, full-page print ads and 15% agency commissions) is dead. Digital killed the media star. And, results-driven organizations are reallocating billions of dollars to digital, word-of-mouth marketing initiatives.

But if you're a regular TSB reader, you already knew the square hole dynamics of traditional mass marketing - radio, TV, newspaper - don’t squeeze every easily anymore into round hole consumer and company exchanges happening on-line every nano-second. You are also much less inclined to be swayed by what organizations say about themselves and far more likely to trust your own experiences. And you have had it up to here with financial scandals, faulty software and services that don’t live up to the hype. From Enron to the electrician down the street, you have seen more than your fair share of companies saying one thing and doing another.

However, there are times when the marketing shoe is on the other foot. Think of much harder it has become to sell your product, service or expertise to potential customers who feel much the same way about marketing as you do.

Welcome to Seamless Branding in the Digital Age.

Since branding is no longer the exclusive domain for Fortune 500 companies and Madison Avenue agencies with bloated budgets and traditional techniques, you aspire to discover a way to navigate brand waters with clarity and confidence.

"The digital world has not changed the principles of branding, but rather has magnified everything we know to be true about building a great brand"

Traditional advertising was a master at reducing the complexity of products, culture and human interaction to a single slogan or word. However, the winners in this new, digital race will recognize the marketing street is an 8-lane super highway, with as much to do with attracting and keeping talent, good friends and great customers. Here is one agency explains it:

Yes, the technology has changed.

But, the fundamentals have not.

And fundamentally, a brand is still best defined as; "a story embedded in the mind of the market". In other words, the message far outranks the medium. He with the best "story", told digitally and seamlessly, will win like never before.

Humans are the only species on the planet that sometimes will choose a story over food. And a story is never stronger than when it is shared by those who have lived it. Great storytelling isn't about technique. It's about being human.

No company has ever been an island or operated in a vacuum, and those that have done business that way are now paying a heavy price. "Seamless branding" is best defined as making and keeping promises that matter, so that inside and outside perceptions about your "story" match up; respecting the fact employees are bloggers and customers watch YouTube.

Do you have a "story" worthy of being shared?

A story like the one being told about Landlord Lou?

Lou is a real person. With a real mustache.

Performing real heroic deeds on behalf of Killam Properties, helping apartmenteers in distress.

"Storytelling can change a room. It can change lives. It can change the world"

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