The playful and social nature of digital means that there are few limitations when it comes to brand creativity. Digital offers a platform from which to tell your brand story and convey your personality through immersive experiences that can change the perception of your brand and generate long lasting interest. In contrast, the more traditional brand appearance offline is something we can all relate to as we’re used to seeing billboards, hearing radio ads and holding a branded mug full of coffee. Although these brand assets each have their place, they are typically more expensive to execute and harder to control and change once they are at large in the marketplace.
So how do you apply brand in these two very different environments effectively?
Digital brand media of all kinds has become an increasingly significant part of our everyday. We consume photos, audio and video clips, animation, games, interactive ads, streaming movies on a daily basis and even experiential marketing has recently gained cut-through with the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality.
Digital assets are often used as part of marketing campaigns to reach specific audiences. Producing video and animation can be expensive and time consuming, but tools like Promo, Shakr and Animoto, offer effective and affordable ways to make it easier.
The biggest benefit of digital branding is its accessibility and ability to reach people. Using social networks, websites and blogs, it's easier than ever to target specific audiences and attract potential customers.
More affordable than offline promotion, people can access information about your brand around the clock and in a matter of seconds. Brand reputation is regularly discovered and defined by online content and (thanks to social media) can experience a rise to fame or be tainted in a matter of hours.
Of course, you have to commit to your online branding in terms of making sure your images render across all platforms properly, and your content is always up to date and current, and you are ready to respond to and interact with your audience on a timetable that suits them (we all hate unmanned live chats or unresponsive customer service!)
Although Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter tend to get grouped into the same general category of ‘social channels’, they are all very different and can serve very different functions. Each audience and platform call for slightly different types of writing or forms of content.
Take Twitter for example; you have 280 characters to get your point across, so your tone needs to engage and entice people to click on your link within a split second. This is a different style of brand communication to a reply to an angry review left by a customer.
Similarly, there are distinct differences between online and offline communications. Digital communication is highly reactive, whereas you tend to get one shot at the offline collateral as it is much harder to edit and evolve. It also has to appeal to a much wider audience. Resist the temptation to simply post the exact same content on all of your channels as your audiences will very quickly disengage.
Once a brand is established enough to be instantly recognisable, you can afford to play with its assets. Fluid trademarks are an example of this and play out to great effect with brands such as Google with its ‘Google Doodle’, Absolut and Channel 4. All have toyed with their logos and recast them in different colours, added movement; and in Google’s case, merged with different images to add personality and interest in a digital setting.
Creative playing field
Incorporating non-digital concepts to enhance messaging within a digital campaign can create more avenues for people to experience your brand. It also creates an opportunity to deliver adverts that are not limited to a digital platform, so you can reach your customers in any environment.
Newcastle Brown Ale commissioned a shadow art installation to promote their tagline “The lighter side of dark”. Two artists stacked bottle caps in a way that it would cast a shadow of a man reaching for a glass of beer. The shadow came alive at night when a single light source shone upon the billboard.
Tangible assets in the form of printed brochures or branded pens have always been a credible way of brand building. They can be highly engaging, but quantifying success rate still remains a tricky business, and they don’t offer the flexibility or have the highly targeted nature of digital advertising.
One of the advantages of offline branding is the personal brand experiences you can give to your customers. Lego shops and theme parks offer visitors free product and brand experiences without having to make a purchase, which always results in linger time and continued exposure to the brand.
From what your staff say to the environments you work in, it all feeds into the subconscious of your audience and leaves a lasting impression in their mind.
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