What You Need To Know For Back To School

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Everyone likes to be in the know, right? And sound smart in class? Right. Staying on top of trends and developments in the industry is necessary in order for today's students to be learning in a way that is relevant to the industry they're going in to. You also want to make sure you're making yourself marketable for jobs. While there's always a whole lot of stuff going on, there are three big things that I learned this summer that I think you should know.

What I learned this summer:

1.Facebook has a business problem and a brand problem
While popular opinion may lead you to believe that Facebook is doomed, Facebook actually has an incredible amount of opportunity to succeed. As we've seen from the share price drop since IPO, Facebook is having trouble convincing the investor community that it's going to be profitable. Some of this happened because the IPO was overvalued, and some because of Facebook's legitimate shortcomings. So far all we've seen Facebook doing to make money is add a social layer to a copycat Google advertising strategy. What Facebook hasn't done, that other social networks like Twitter have done, is create a "fire hose" of data that third-party social analytics companies can tap in to. Twitter makes money by charging companies like Radian 6 and Sysomos to have access to every single publicly available tweet in real-time. Facebook doesn't do that . It's probably for a good reason, but if they're not going to create a comparable service offering for brands to get insights from behavioral data, they're missing out on a revenue opportunity that we already know there is a demand for.

From the brand side, no one knows what they're doing. There is a significant lack of consistency and understanding with users that allows Facebook to have a strong brand. Internally there is a need for clarity about where the company is going, and protection of the brand through differentiated revenue streams. Facebook has a unique opportunity to blow analysts, brands, and users out of the water with some legitimate innovation.

2. Brands + Olympics = <3
The Olympics might as well be re-named "Two Months of Aggressive Advertising." Every brand wants a piece of that pie, but only a select few really break through the clutter. This year's winners were clearly Kellogg's, P&G, and Nike . All three brands tapped directly in to the core of our lives and our emotions in order to successfully leverage the greatness and prestige of the Olympics and get us to associate it with their brands. P&G made us all realize how important our moms really are, and gave moms pride in what they've accomplished through their children. Kellogg's uplifted us and encouraged us to make our dreams come true. Nike brought out the champion in all of us and gave us the confidence to achieve greatness.

All of this is lofty, I know, but it's true. This type of advertising represents the true capability of our industry, and undoubtedly reinforces the necessity for a strong, well-defined brand.

3. It's all about the customer experience
Behind the curtain outside of public view, brands and agencies have been involved in an discussion/debate about the role of digital in our industry. Now that we've acknowledged social media is not a fad and that digital is part of everything we do, we need to figure out exactly what that means for our work. In the last few months the industry has really focused on the idea of the 'customer experience' and how the merging of the online and offline has created a need for brands to think about everything they do holistically. Digital is no longer an add-on. Digital agencies are becoming less relevant, though certainly not irrelevant, because everyone doing anything for a brand now needs to be considering the role digital plays in their work and everything else related to it.

Digital strategies and social media strategies are not going away – they're just being tied back to the brand better than they have been in the past. Knowing that customer experience is the key has also re-elevated the importance of brand at every touchpoint. Brand is king. Brand rules all.

Obviously this is full of personal opinions that I have about each of the topics. I encourage you to do more reading about each of these and see what the industry is saying, so that you can decide exactly what your point of view is .

About the Author
David Trahan is a Consultant at Interbrand New York focusing on customer insights and digital strategy. At Interbrand he has worked with more than 20 leading Fortune 500 brands including United Airlines, NYSE, Nissan, Johnson & Johnson, and UPS. Previous to Interbrand David worked at social media agency MRY (formerly Mr. Youth) in New York where he worked as a Strategist for brands such as Norton, Microsoft, Nestle-Purina, and Pepsi. Find him on Twitter at @brooklyknight.
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