I wanted to find out more about this topic, but instead of just reading about it, I interviewed more than 100 of the best and brightest people in marketing and technology and wrote a book about it called "BrandDigital." The following excerpt is about the way marketers built brands in the pre-digital world compared with the way smart companies are building brands today.
Every December around the holidays, I set up my old Lionel trains for my kids. Each year I add a few more cars and accessories, making a collection more elaborate than the year before. Suffice it to say, it now takes hours to assemble. For those of you who don't know about Lionel trains, they are as captivating for the adults in the family as they are for the kids. The last time I set them up, I decided to spend some time testing (OK, playing with) the trains to make sure they'd work when my kids came into the playroom the next morning. As I watched the Union Pacific locomotive pull the freight cars along the track, it occurred to me that the engine pulling the other cars round and round was sort of akin to marketing in the pre-digital world of brand building.
In those days, which seem eons ago, it was traditional advertising, mostly in the form of 30- or 60-second TV spots, that was the locomotive responsible for getting all the other cars to their destination.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
Allen Adamson is managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, a brand-consulting and design firm. He is the author of "BrandSimple" and "BrandDigital."
Well, in the digital world, there is no train. The marketing paradigm has shifted from linear to very nonlinear, and digital technology has done the shifting. While traditional advertising still plays an important part in the branding equation, it no longer drives everything else. That's because modern consumers aren't sitting en masse in front of their TV sets being told why one brand of cereal is better than another.
For starters, there is no "en masse" anymore. Consumer segments are more fragmented than at any other time in marketing history.
As a result of this new paradigm, brand organizations are uncoupling the anchor bolts between departments, agencies and all other entities involved in their branding. Instead of looking at branding as a linear exercise, they're putting the brand idea smack in the middle. They are not thinking about how the media should drive the branding but how the brand idea should drive the media and every other form of brand expression.
Michael Mendenhall, CMO of Hewlett-Packard, was one of the folks I spoke to about this new paradigm. He explained how his organization looks at brand building. "Many companies continue to look at marketing in conventional ways -- from a mass-market point of view. Branding today is not about the media; it's about the idea. You need to dismiss the conventional way of thinking and start with an understanding of the value of each communication channel and how -- or whether -- it will engage people. The idea should be the organizing principle, and it should inform everything you do to help consumers grasp your brand promise in whatever channel you're reaching them: the television, the blogs, the banner ads or the word of mouth."