“Brand growth in a digital age” – brandgym book post 1

This is the first of a series of posts inspired by our new book: the brandgym: A Practical Workout to Grow Your Brand in a Digital Age.  Here, we look at the central question the book addresses: how should the whole process of creating brand-led growth evolve in a world transformed by digital technology? To help answer this question, we carried out quantitative  research with 100 marketing leaders and follow-up interviews with 25 of them. We also drew on learning 200+ brandgym projects, plus the front-line experience of brandgym partners in their previous lives as CMOs at leading companies including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Virgin.

Everything has changed ….

There is no doubting the seismic changes that have rocked the world of marketing and brands since the last edition of the brandgym book was published in 2010. Facebook’s revenues increased 23 times to $17.9 billion during this time, which also saw the launch of Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Uber and Airbnb. And once powerful brands have died, such as Nokia, which was still the world’s 13th most valuable brand in 2010!

… and nothing has changed

Despite all these changes in marketing, what came through loud and clear in our research is that the fundamental building blocks of brand strategy are just as relevant today as they have ever been, if not more so. Over 90% of marketing directors agreed that, “The key to effective marketing in a digital age is clear brand positioning.” No matter how sexy your social media campaign is, if it’s not based on deep insight and a big brand idea, the chances are it will fail to drive growth.

Neglecting brand strategy

Although the marketing directors we surveyed agreed that brand strategy is key to success in a digital age, the majority also agreed that, “With the focus on digital/social marketing, brand strategy gets overlooked.” It seems like a a ‘battle of brand philosophies’ has broken out. On one side are the folk who still believe in the importance of brand strategy, conventional research and traditional ‘paid’ media like TV. On the other side are pitched a digital generation of marketers who believe in data, responsive tactics and ‘owned/earned’ social media.

Rebooting brand strategy

We suggest in the book that the way forward is to ‘reboot’ brand strategy by blending the best of proven, more conventional techniques with new approaches that reflect our digital age. And to do this we need to ‘zoom out’ and see how digital can be harnessed throughout the process of turning insight into strategy into action, rather than just focusing on digital communication. The challenge is not digital marketing but rather ‘marketing in a digital world’.

Future posts will cover four main ways to reboot brand strategy for a digital age:

  • Brand-led Growth: focusing branding on driving profitable growth by following the money, not the latest marketing trends, including pruning the portfolio to concentrate on fewer, bigger brands.
  • Bring Your Vision to Life: blending the best of digital and human insight to create an inspiring and purposeful positioning that aligns and engages the team delivering the brand.
  • Grow the Core: driving distinctiveness through product, service, identity and communication including the use of digital technology to upgrade or even re-invent your core business. Expanding distribution, including harnessing exciting new digital routes to the consumer.
  • Stretch from the Core: extending and then stretching the core using products, packaging and service, including innovative new ways to deliver your brand promise using digital technology.

For more info on the book or to order a copy, please click here.

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