Saying that the internet has become an integral part of society is an understatement. Almost every hand holds a smartphone linked to myriad apps and websites. Around each corner, there is a digital advert or a barcode on a poster, which in the past would have contained everything the public needed to know. Our ability to connect with people, opportunities and information no longer knows the concept of limits and the more online platforms are used, the more their providers will continue to develop new and amazing ways to please consumers. Facebook counted 2.32 billion active users worldwide by April 2019, followed by YouTube with 1.9 billion. Even though Twitter ranked 12th with 330 million, it is still an impressive number that confirms how much modern society depends on the internet. What does this mean for businesses that wish to stand out from their competition? It means they must embrace the digital age and make clever and strategic use of online marketing techniques.
The fundamental rules of brand development remain the same. Observe what competitors are doing right or wrong, determine the strengths and purpose of your own business and make a detailed plan of how it can be promoted. Restraint and authenticity are key marketing qualities that attract without imposing. Pinpoint and adopt popular trends, for instance, for a direct route to large numbers of viewers with each calculated advert. Video and influencer marketing, programmatic advertising and social media stories, there are many non-aggressive ways to build visibility for your brand and rapport with a public regularly bothered by intrusive spam adverts. Effective but sympathetic consumer engagement should be at the top of your business’s priorities. From there, it is a matter of researching what channels are available and most appropriate for your brand, not to mention learning how they work.
Earning people’s trust as a brand can be a lot of work. It requires applying common sociable practices to a public of strangers who already know that your primary and essential goal is profit, if only to stay afloat in a highly competitive market. The art of persuasion must be utilised to the utmost, which can be trickier when done through a monitor. Hubspot provides the five most productive methods of approaching consumers online, with word-of-mouth aptly placed at the top. Prospective customers are more likely to believe reviews from happy ones when it comes to a business’s professionalism, so ensuring that your brand will deliver the quality services it promises is essential.
As long as that aspect cannot be disputed - beyond the occasional mishap - generating a positive public image comes down to your product being bought and used and that relies on you getting the message out there. Original and well-constructed podcasts can be as effective as videos. The social media platforms mentioned above are vital to any marketing strategy, in addition to LinkedIn for more B2B orientated brands. Above all, being always mindful of SEO when composing and posting any kind of promotional content guarantees the brand’s search engine discoverability.
With all that being said, it's time to look at some concrete examples of where this has (and hasn't) paid off.
Strong Brand Identities
As important as the business’s communication methods are, its visual representation is even more so. From its logo to its website design and colour scheme, the decorative elements chosen must encapsulate the brand as precisely and pleasantly as possible. One example is Wink Slots, an online casino specialising in slot games. The strength of its digital brand identity lies in its website’s focus on clear-cut, user-friendly lists of online slots, while leaving vivid and fun illustrations for the frame and game icons. There is nothing vague or redundant in sight. This tells visitors that the provider is only there for them to have a good time.
Another inspiring example is Meow Wolf, also part of the entertainment and arts sector. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this company provides creative and professional support to artistic ventures around the world. Their website reflects their love for art and otherness by using a white background, just like Wink Slots, and embellishing it with thought bubble-like multimedia promoting what makes them tick and beloved by the communities they champion. The range of colours used are the same as in their unique logo, a visual statement that they are proud of their eccentric nature. The design of a brand’s online identity is a fun way of expressing its ideals.
Meow Wolf origin video
Back in 2017, Walkers launched its ‘Choose Me or Lose Me’ campaign, which pitted Salt & Vinegar, Prawn Cocktail and Smoky Bacon, against Australia’s Lime & Black Pepper, Spain’s Paprika and the US’s Bacon & Cheddar. According to The Grocer, 778,636 votes rescued all three favourite British flavours from being axed, but it was the huge marketing activity that spurred the public into participating. The result was a 19% boost to retailers’ crisps sales and people’s reinvigorated love for the snack and, of course, the brand. A daring move is often necessary to awaken your target audience’s interest in your business.
Perhaps one of the best-known brands for unusual marketing initiatives, France’s IKEA struck again in March with Nordic baths placed along the Seine that people could book online and sink into. PR Examples mentions three previous installations: living billboards with models interacting with IKEA bathroom sets, furnished Metro stations and billboard walls, the last constructed to be scaled by the public. Imagination does not just create incredible interactive adverts: it can present a brand as a friendly, fun-loving service that is happy to interact with its customers in ways that few of its competitors will.
Creative IKEA kitchen advert
Approach to Avoid
There are, however, lessons to be learned from misguided ventures, like Pepsi’s 2017 TV advert featuring Kendall Jenner. Cultural appropriation is dangerous marketing territory, especially for brands that bear no relevance to the themes they attempt to incorporate. As boundless as brand development may seem today, the risk of overreaching is always present. Staying true to your business’s viable routes conveys a sense of grounded maturity that customers appreciate. Mastering your online marketing tools enhances that dependable brand identity.
Think about your brand’s purpose and the human bonds it can form. Extensive exploration of the market, as well as online channels, offering assistance and advice, will put you on the right track of successfully expanding your brand through the intimidating yet thrilling landscapes of the digital world.