It’s what all sane marketers, advertisers & managers look to create, establish, reinvigorate, alter even retire. A name with the power to influence the market, the brand is capable of creating a milieu of positive affects.
A shared desirable and exclusive idea embodied in products, services, places and experiences, the desire, no essential need for a strong brand has only intensified in our increasingly fragmented media environment, where the post-recession market means every cost, every decision must be justified, rationalised and most importantly be measurable.
In this sense (At least in my mind) the digital ‘universe’ or the internet is somewhat an engima. Capable of providing an intense two way relationship with a range of audiences the brand becomes “all squishy and emotional, filled with beautiful sentiment that goes straight tothe heart”. Aleast in AdAge’s mind anyway (Building Brands Online, 2011).
Yet saying this, I do happen to agree there is clearly great potential to develop the branded experience through the tools of the ever changing trade; 2.0, mobile applications, website interfaces etc. Ofcourse with these tools, comes better measurement and this is the point were we satisfy your line manager, that number cruncher, the dreaded finance department (the list goes on).
Although despite such opportunity it’s must be said the internet can create a range of potential risks for the brand, especially when creating or sustaining ‘the seamless brand’.
Whether it’s called Seamlesss branding, integrated branding, the hollistic approach or the hallowed ‘brand experience’ in essence we are talking about the same fundamental end user experience. A branded offering so integrated and complete that it ‘encapsulates’ the audience across every touch point so the product, packaging, staff, website, customer service and store front all carry the same branded meaning.
When bridging this concept across into the digital hemisphere management may encounter intitial difficulty. The world wide web is by very definition ‘a set or series of interconnected computers’, a complex web of risk surrounding the brand each strand external to the organisation, potentially possessing some form of power or influence to affect the brand experience.
News articles, user reviews, parodies, boycotts, consumer movements, even a misplaced search result on a punched in brand query could potentially detract from the overall brand experience, capable of diluting, damaging and destroying the brand image the marketing department has spent time and money establishing. The internet is a unmapped landscape in this sense, and the natural flow of users is heavily researched, marketers looking to form a logical conclusion of how to control traffic, search engine results and increasingly social media.
I believe influence is the term we should be using, rather than control. The seamless brand experience is far more than the sterile construction and management of link infrastructure, seo etc. It’s futile trying to control users in this way, the seamless brand extends far beyond one location and doesn’t attempt to control in this way. Aol tried and then failed operating a ‘walled garden’ approach and while arguably Google & Facebook are making serious gains in containing users within one platform, the digital environment present a plethora of access options and therefore opportunities for the brand. Why limit yourself to one?
Brand managers should explore the opportunities but they must be selective, even exclusive with selecting their digital entourage! For me the digital seamless brand, is one that successfully carries the meaning, it’s essence across all channels using a new technology because it adds to the brand, not because its available.
It really needn’t be an enigma. Brand should harness the strength of the digital environment, benefiting from advanced measurement metrics, the lure of interactivity and mobile. These are just some of the concept I have discussed via this blog, and yes although creating a seamless brand on just one medium is a challenge, it can be done.
Many brands manage to bridge the branded experience across a range of mediums ensuring from the moment the consumer engages, ‘locks on’, connects etc. the experience is seamless. I highly recommend exploring the various websites and social media profiles of my some of my favourite organisations. Nike, Disney and Hollister each a brilliant example of the seamless brand, one I hope you take the time to explore!