In today’s world anything can be a product. Let’s take plain old water as an example. There are tons of bottled water brands around the world and they all sell “water”. But how do these companies convince customers to buy their bottled water instead of the one from competition when the product is nothing more than a transparent liquid. The answer is nothing but branding which enables companies to provide different meaning to the same product.
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The concept of branding has been around as early as 2,700 B.C when the ancient Egyptians engaged in livestock branding to differentiate one person’s cattle from another. The term itself is derived from the Old Norse word brandr which refers to the practice of using branded irons to burn a mark into the hides of livestock. Over the years branding has been extended to mean a strategic personality for a product or company & can be said as a process which can be used to create a strong, positive perception of a company, its products or services in the customer’s mind by combining elements like logo, design, mission slogan & a constant theme throughout all marketing communications.
Watermarks emerged during the medieval period which was a way for printing houses & other guilds to distinguish their products. The industrial revolution resulted in rise of mass production & shipment of trade goods and producers began burning their company’s mark into crates & cases of goods to differentiate themselves from the competition. Radio & television started giving companies new ways to generate demand for their products & by the 1960s advertisers were using mass media to associate brands with emotional benefits.
Today, with the rise of internet & social media, branding has evolved to its next stage. But unlike the past, internet has enabled customers to not just consume with the advertisements but also to participate with the companies. This is why digital branding is more important than ever before for both B2C & B2B marketing. Digital branding is what’s enabling corporates to stand out in the mind of the audience especially since they are bombarded with marketing messages all over the internet. Digital branding is today’s key to unlock customer happiness which is why it should be different than traditional ideas of branding. A brand can’t just tell what it represents without living up to its assertions. Digital branding enables the brand to communicate its value to the customers.
Story telling has always been a part of marketing. In today’s world stories are told through internet. Creation & sharing of online content which includes blogs, videos & posts to stimulate interest in the mind of the audience instead of directly promoting the brand is the base for content marketing.
In essence your story is your identity. Providing relevant content suited for the various stages of buyers’ journey that convey how important your product /solution as a solution is damn important in digital branding.
Social media is today’s coffee shop where you sit around & gossip. Social media’s influence is growing like wildfire which has resulted in the concept of ‘Social B2B buyer’. Social media is hugely influencing buyers in the B2B industry. Channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram etc. are being widely used in the promotion for marketing in the B2B industry.
Corporates can start by social listening to help inform digital identity. Do not change your identity on basis of what audience wants instead change the way you speak to audience & your identity will be shaped accordingly.
Once identity is established then visibility in digital branding can be extended with digital ads, SEO, proper & attractive website maintenance, online analytics etc.
Breaking down the benefits
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- Interactivity with customers
The rise in number of personal devices & their use has enabled marketers to communicate directly or interact with target customers through the medium of internet. With digital branding marketers can choose different elements within content to be marketed in a more engaging manner. Brands can display their product’s USP via a GIF, hosting live videos, tweeting cool tweets, responding to comments on the go & launching clickable banner ads on related websites. You shouldn’t forget to the customers in on the experience.
- Multichannel branding
Digital branding lets your brand to converge in multiple platforms. Your brand’s identity unified among multiple online platforms including social media, email, online advertisements, chat applications etc. with different display mediums preaching one message yet customized to every customer goes a long way in customer experience.
- Going viral
This is a long misunderstood concept. Your post going viral is actually a post result instead of being a pre-planned process. There is no guarantee even though there might be vital elements in your content which can push your brand towards a further reach in a short period of time. Digital branding enables brands to easily pick up speed by customer’s engagement through shares, clicks, recommendations, feedbacks, social engagement & so on.
- Being progressive
By continuing digital branding you will realize that in this fast changing environment it’s easier to expand your brand’s appeal. Digital media allows versatility than any other traditional mode of marketing but you should make sure to cultivate a habit to unify brand identity both online & offline.
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Today’s customers are internet savvy & use online platforms which includes social media, online search, mobile apps etc. to ease their purchase decisions. Digital branding enables your voice to reach to customers who discover, relate & interact with business online along with increasing your brand visibility, credibility along with business identity. Establishing a strong digital branding will also help a lot in customer acquisition, lead generation, content consumption & brand awareness.
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