Branding in the Digital Age

Greg Lowe

October 24, 2012

Several months ago, I read a disturbing story about a man in Egypt who woke up at his own funeral.  He had been declared dead after suffering a heart attack at work.   Unfortunately, the practice of prematurely pronouncing things dead is becoming all too common.  Take branding for example. I recently read a post on one of my favorite blogs, which declared that traditional marketing, including branding, was dead.

The piece opens with a bold, definitive statement: “Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead.”  While the post does go on to make several valid points about the modern “buyer’s decision journey,” its underlying premise – that traditional marketing is dead—is, well, dead wrong.

In fact, branding in the digital age is alive and well.  Far from being dead and gone, it’s actually as important as it’s ever been.  The notion that branding doesn’t apply to digital marketing initiatives stems from an incorrect understanding of brand and the branding process.  According to brand strategist Brad McLaws, “brand is the sum total of the impressions formed through exposure to your TouchPoints.”  These touch points might include a logo, a tagline, a company uniform, and a storefront sign.  Based upon a customer’s reaction to the combination of these elements, they form a perception of your company in their mind.  That perception, present in the mind of each individual, is your brand.

In today’s world, customers are just as likely to “touch” your business online as they are in the physical world.  Touch points, therefore, also include your company’s website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and blog.  To declare that branding in the digital age is dead is to suggest that these touch points matter less than physical touch points.  A company would never place a storefront sign without careful consideration of how it portrays the company and how it interacts with other brand elements.  Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence that companies frequently ignore their own brand standards when implementing digital assets.

To ensure that the revitalized corpse of branding doesn’t surprise your company, simply adhere to branding conventions, which have long been a part of traditional marketing.  In other words, put away the funeral clothes.  Branding in the digital age is alive and well.  If your company has long since buried it, wake up!  As our Egyptian friend taught us, it’s never too late to start again.