24 Oct 2018 20:36 IST

Brand-building ecosystem offers slew of choices

The variety of digital media available enables customised messaging and many levels of engagement

The first part of this article looked at old and new ways of brand-building, while this concluding part describes how digital players tap into a range of options to convey the power of their brands effectively.

To fully exploit digital power, it helps to think of the choices available as an ecosystem that provides opportunities for the brand to relate to the consumer in many different ways.

Conventional media is a powerful vehicle to reach large audiences and inform them. However, the ability to engage with consumers is limited to a common denominator that applies to all consumers. Digital media, on the other hand, if well applied, can engage better with consumers as the brand can converse with consumers in relation to their specific need.

Tailored communication

Consider, for example, search — both paid and organic. It is possible to intuit the solution that consumers are looking for and what they intend to do once they get the answers from the search terms they use. Let us term them purpose and intent. Knowing these enables the marketer to tailor communication to the consumer’s purpose and intent and, hence, engender a greater engagement than a common message that appeals universally.

For example, consider a search for laundry detergents. A consumer searching for a detergent good enough to remove school-yard dirt from children’s clothes, is very different from another one who’s looking for a detergent that keeps clothes looking new. With digital media it is possible for the same brand to tailor and distribute messages to both these consumers without causing any dissonance. Thereby, the brand is able to satisfy both searchers with messages specific to their needs, as against conventional media, which would have most likely had a message that would have appealed partially to each of the two consumers, making neither completely happy.

Peer-to-peer advocacy

The bouquet of digital media and marketing practices — search, social media, content marketing, e-mail, display advertising, rich media, et al — not only provides the capability to tailor messaging, but also create different kinds of engagement. For example, social media provides the opportunity for peer-to-peer advocacy, a more durable and credible form of endorsement; e-mail can be used to cross-sell and up-sell, as well as, used powerfully in retention of consumers; content marketing can be a powerful disseminator of brand myths and lore. The possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.

On the other hand, digital marketing cannot rest on the laurels of one television commercial that can be milked for all it is worth during the season. Digital marketing is painstakingly granular and requires the nose to be constantly on the grindstone for the stellar pay-off.

Some of the other opportunities the digital eco-system provides are:

Segmented communications: Segmentation is a widely practised marketing technique for expanding and reaching out to specific segments of consumers. Digital media, backed by the power of analytics, is capable of pin-pointed messaging to very finely defined niche sets of users. Such micro-communication enables brands build stronger relationships with consumers.

Advocacy and peer-feedback: Apart from social media, the wide availability of forums, use-groups and review sites means that consumers can provide and receive feedback unrestricted by boundaries of time, space or access. This peer-to-peer exchange of information is a powerful force to shape perceptions and attitudes to brands, strengthening or weakening brand relationships, based on more credible sources than traditional customer/celebrity testimonials or public relations.



Powerful tools to retain customers: Interbrand, in its ranking of Global Brands for 2018, reports, “…29 per cent of the total value of the 100 Best Global Brands lies in subscription-based businesses, versus 18 per cent in 2009.” While magazine subscriptions and music listenership are obvious candidates for subscription, many other brands can potentially adopt the subscription mode. For example, strides in e-commerce can actually enable anybody, from the neighbourhood kirana to the state-of-the-art e-comm player, to create subscription-based services of day-to-day household goods.

The CheatSheet graphic shows the many possibilities of this eco-system. The chart shows the applicability of the digital opportunity to the brand-building task. A tick indicates a strong impact, while a star means a moderate impact. Thus, organic search is a powerful tool for creating awareness, desire and action. This does not mean that it does not create interest or advocacy. It is just that the consumer would not start a search session without being interested; similarly, if a consumer were looking for advocacy, the search itself would reflect it.

Also shown alongside are the various ways by which brand messaging can be segmented using different digital interventions. For example, search can be segmented by intent, and social media offers immense potential for using psychographic segmentation.