Digital technology is transforming the way that consumers interact with brands, and their expectations are higher than ever.
However, are brands evolving at a pace that keeps them in sync with this ever-changing landscape?
To shed light on these questions, we chatted with Rob Howsam, a seasoned independent Creative Consultant.
In our conversation, Rob imparts practical guidance and essential tools that empower brands to navigate this dynamic environment and better forge connections that resonate with today’s evolving consumer base.
Why is it crucial for businesses to adapt their brand strategies in a digital age?
“See it, want it, click to buy it, get it by tomorrow.”
Consumer demands are higher, their options wider and their loyalty is harder to earn.
Whether you’re a local business, or a Global Corporation – everyone that your Brand wishes to engage with digitally will expect a seamless and rewarding digital experience.
Get it wrong and they’re gone.
Digital-first brands are better equipped to build more meaningful and enduring relationships.
Here’s how they do it;
– Building a deeper understanding of audience needs, using data-driven insights.
– Personalising the user experience to create more relevant engagement.
– Building dialogue with customers and actively responding to feedback to improve brand perception.
– Creating consistent, joined-up user experiences across multiple platforms.
– Listening to, and engaging with, on-line conversations.
– Encouraging and supporting user-generated content.
On, is a great example. They are on a mission to ignite the human spirit through movement. Their digital platforms encourage user generated content and storytelling that build brand loyalty.
Digital technology has levelled the playing field. Any business or organisation – regardless of scale – is able access great tools, knowledge and technologies. So, there are more players, and the little guys can punch well above their weight.
With the bar raised – there’s no reason why your audiences digital experience shouldn’t meet their expectations, and every reason why you should aim to exceed them.
What are common indicators that a brand needs a refresh to remain relevant and competitive?
No Business or Organisation should ever see their Brand as “Job Done”.
Your Brand is a living, ever evolving entity that requires constant and careful attention.
From the Products & Services to the Brand Strategy, Brand Identity and Comms Design. From the Marketing Strategy & Planning, to the Employer Brand, Internal Engagement and Comms – the multitude of parts that form the whole must be nurtured holistically and consistently.
Review and refine, refresh and reaffirm or re-evaluate and reposition – the world keeps moving and to keep up, so too must your Brand.
The need for a full brand refresh might emerge from changes in consumer behaviour, market trends, or the Brand’s performance.
But a range of other factors are also key indicators, presenting an opportunity for transformational change:
– If the Brand Strategy has not kept up with the Business Strategy.
– If the Brand Identity and Comms no longer reflect the confidence, capabilities, calibre and culture of the organisation.
– When outdated comms tools are no longer an enabler, but a barrier.
– When people don’t understand or believe in the Brand and are not inspired by it.
– If the Brand feels out of touch and out of sync with the world in which it exists – experientially or attitudinally.
Athlon refreshed the brand and digital experience for Phacilitate. Rather than a complete rebrand, we modernised the overall experience.
If your ‘Brand’ has been out-grown, is outdated or is out-of-touch. It’s high-time for a reset.
In a fast changing digital landscape, what should a business consider when crafting a modern brand identity?
A considered. well designed Brand Identity can help to create clarity, build cohesion, inspire confidence and strengthen connections. But the visuals are only part of the picture.
“Build solid strategic foundations.”
A crisp Brand Strategy will inform and inspire the creative direction of the Identity – enabling the Designers to create a unique verbal and visual vocabulary and form an Identity that will stand-out in the marketplace and connect with each of it’s audiences.
Without strategic foundations, any identity work will be cosmetic and meaningless.
Create simple, centralised tools
Think beyond ‘Brand Guidelines’ and create tools to build understanding, inspire engagement, and equip your teams to exploit the full power of the Brand.
– Brand Management Platform
A single digital resource making all of the Brand ‘Tools, Templates & Assets’ easier to access and implement, and enabling consistent application across all channels from any location.
– Briefing tools
To equip Leaders and Managers to inspire their People & Teams. Building a shared understanding of the Brand and how it is shaped, not by marketing, but by people.
– Sales tools
A consistent suite of messages, content and comms to empower the Sales Team and support Business Development.
– Quick reference tools
Making things easier and quicker to explain: short video explainers, single-page summaries and digital guidelines.
– Internal Engagement tools
Comms tools to maintain the conversation long after launch day. Helping to build understanding and create alignment, across the business. Athlon used these principals when designing the brand for the Digital Museum of Learning.
“Pay attention to the quality of implementation.”
All too often, the agency’s ‘Case Study’ of a Brand Identity project can look like a “Here’s what you could have won” version of the ‘rolled-out’ reality.
The importance of Implementation and Brand Management is often under appreciated and poorly resourced. As a result: the theory is not practiced; a potent concept is poorly executed and ultimately therefore, the return on investment, is not fully realised.
– Invest in good design
Good design shines through, poor design will tarnish the lustre. Work with skilled Designers, and build internal creative capability.
– Maintain regular Brand reviews and daily Art Directional oversight
Ensure that messaging is clear, the story is joined-up, and the overall Brand experience is cohesive across the estate.
– Put a single Brand Director at the centre to conduct and to coordinate all Brand building activity.
How can a brand strike a balance between maintaining its heritage while embracing new digital trends?
In this fast moving, ever changing and wildly unpredictable world, it’s more important than ever that businesses and organisations have navigational tools in place to help them get their bearings and stay on track.
A ‘Brand Compass’, ‘North Star’, ‘Brand Beacon’, ‘Core Thought’, a ‘Single Organising Principal’ – call it what you will, but make sure that it’s credible, directional, useable and reliable.
Well formed, this critical Strategic tool will provide a clear point of reference for all – focusing ambition, informing thinking and benchmarking success. This will help to guide the Brand toward the right innovations, whilst steering it away from any potential distractions.
American outfitter Filson, has successfully retained the heritage of it brand while embracing the power of digital, amassing over 500k followers on their instagram and offering a seamless shopping experience across their website.