What Id Digital Branding ?

The term digital branding is often used, but what actually is ‘digital branding’?

As a strategist and brand planner, I find the use of the term ‘digital branding’ curious. Do we use the term ‘TV branding’ or ‘radio branding’?

Digital marketing has emerged as a specialism over the last decade with its origins rooted in direct marketing. The increase in the number of personal devices and their use means brand marketers have many more ways of communicating directly and interactively with their target consumers or customers. Given this, it’s no surprise that branding concepts should be applied to digital media and technology to develop brands through interactions with consumers on their digital devices.  We’ll look at some of the leading FMCG examples at the end of this article.

Digital branding definition: So, how do I see it? Here’s my perspective on “Digital Branding“:

“Digital channels and assets are used to communicate a brand’s positioning (or purpose) as part of multichannel brand communication or engagement programmes”.

So let’s rename ‘digital branding’ ‘digital communication’ and consider its role in the context of the business strategy and brand planning. 

The ‘Marketing Way’ (Figure 1) is a planning framework that is followed in many FMCG businesses. It links the business strategy with the annual brand plan. In best practice examples a brand’s communication strategy will be part of the annual brand plan and thread back through to the business strategy.

These steps in a marketing planning way will typically be visited iteratively. Now let’s look at each of these steps in more detail.

Where to Play

The first question is essentially about which markets (and segments) a business wishes to compete in. When looking at the options, we should think about factors such as:

  • Target markets – how big are they, how fast are they growing, are these clearly defined and understood?
  • Customer needs and wants – how are the target markets segmented?
  • Differentiation – to what extent will the business need to differentiate their branded product or service to appeal to the target customer and/or consumer segment?

The decisions taken here by a business are the most important because of their long-term implications for direction setting, resource allocation and, in fact, all elements in McKinsey’s 7S Framework (Figure 2).

How to Win

The second question is all about competitive advantage.  For example, does the business have:

  • A brand proposition that differentiates the business in eyes of target consumer e.g. why do consumers increasingly prefer to buy from Amazon rather than high street retailers?
  • The capabilities in place (assets, people, resources) that enable it to deliver the brand’s value proposition and communicate the positioning?

Positioning (Figure 3) is what you do in the mind of your target consumer not what you do to a product or service. Emotion has been shown to be the first driver of decision-making on a consumer’s path to purchase. Emotional positioning examples include Coca-Cola, which exists to inspire moments of happiness and Cadbury, which exists to inspire moments of joy.

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