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DIGITAL BRAND what is it?

How the digital environment has changed the approach to brand management

Most of our time today we spend on the Internet. How to make your product visible in the flow of information? How to convey its values to users of the global network? How to form an associative array between your product and business?

Brand management deals with verbal and visual communications around the company, its products and services. And what about the virtual world?

In a series of longreads, we will talk about the concept of a digital brand, trends and new professions that will be in demand in the near future.

According to data released annually by the analytical company Hootsuite, almost 7 hours a day people spend on the Internet. At the same time, they spend almost 3 hours a day on social networks. The countries of the Pacific region and Latin America are leaders in this indicator.

The volume of the e-commerce market in 2020 exceeded $10,361.0 billion, and by 2027 this figure will triple and may reach $27,147.9 billion.

Global digitalization began with the advent of the Internet, and the advent of smartphones and social networks only accelerated this trend in the mid-2000s. The coronavirus pandemic was just an excuse to officially announce the beginning of a new life in the digital world.

Differences in human behavior at the beginning of the pandemic and in 2021 are minimal.

For business, these figures are just another confirmation of the correctness of the chosen vector. Everyone wants to go online: from a nail salon to a large industrial company and a government employee. Everything is sold only through Instagram: from eyelash extensions, jewelry and vintage from your favorite resorts, to complex B2B products and services.

What is a digital brand?

A brand is a philosophy and a set of solutions that emphasize the uniqueness of a company, its products and services. Thanks to the variety of communication channels with the audience, the brand functions as a living system and adapts to new conditions, in particular to the virtual world.

With the advent of the digital world, brands began to change to make them easy for Internet users to perceive, remember and interact with them. According to experts, the online advertising market will double in the next four years from $378 billion in 2020 to $646 billion in 2024. Online advertising spend now accounts for more than 50% of total advertising budgets.

The growth of Internet advertising costs is accompanied by an increase in the number of communication channels on the Internet. And brands are constantly experimenting with new online formats, which means that it is quite fair to talk about the concept of a digital brand.

A digital brand is a brand format that is easily distributed and fixed in the minds of Internet users through digital communication channels (social networks, search engines, instant messengers).

According to Yandex, only 590 users per month are interested in the digital brand search query. The online brand is searched by 7800 people. While just a brand is searched for by more than 1.6 million users.

The low frequency of this request indicates that in our culture the concept of a digital brand is still taking root, although digital communications specialists already exist in every large company. In the US and Europe, the concept of Digital Brand has been used since 2012+, and the world's leading universities have included a Digital Brand management course in their programs.

Digital brand management channels

A brand is a philosophy and a set of solutions that emphasize the uniqueness of a company, its products and services. The purpose of a brand is to evoke emotions in the audience. A strong brand gives a clear associative picture about a business or product and evokes strong emotions. To do this, across all marketing channels, consumers must receive clear answers to the questions: “Who?”, “What?”, “Why?”, “How?”

  • Who buys?
  • What does he buy?
  • Why buys?
  • How does he buy?

There are many marketing channels for getting answers to these questions: advertising (TV, outdoor), BTL, ATL, media publications, mailing lists, email, social networks, websites, forums, etc. The main thing here, taking into account the peculiarities of each of the channels, is to convey to the consumer a single business philosophy. It is visualized by the identity, or corporate identity, which includes everything: from the logo to each piece of handout or business cards that are used in the enterprise.

When we talk about a digital brand, appropriate channels will be used for its development. This:

  • Website
  • Search engines
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Marketplaces
  • Electronic media
  • Bloggers
  • Forums
  • Sites of specialized communities
  • Employers' sites

With a strong brand, each of the channels will be literally permeated with an identity. And the simpler it looks, the easier and faster. Remember how in the period from 2005 to 2010 we were swept by a whole wave of rebranding, among which Beeline, MTS, Alfa-Bank, Sberbank, S7 Airlines, VTB stand out.

The main trend in the rebrandings of the 2000-2010s is simplification and subsequent adaptation to digital media. Bright contrasting colors appear in the identity, complex logos are converted into understandable 2D formats.

What do we see now? Further digitization of the brand. Identities of strong brands borrow digital content formats. For example, the gradients that Sberbank uses.

To form a unity of positioning in dozens, if not hundreds of different channels, the term ecosystem is used, which in business terminology means a set of own or partner services united around one company. The use of the concept of an ecosystem in relation to brand positioning characterizes it as a living system.

Why are IT company brands the most expensive?

By the way, IT is now in the top of the most expensive brands. Forbes estimates that the Apple brand is valued at $241.2 billion, Google at $207.5 billion, Microsoft at $162.9 billion, Amazon at $135.4 billion, and Facebook at $70.3 billion.

Why? Do they communicate their philosophy more clearly than, for example, Coca-Cola, Disney or Louis Vuitton, which are ranked 6, 7 and 9 on the Forbes list with estimates of 64.4, 61.3, 47.8 billion dollars?

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft both own the marketing channels that other brands use to engage with their consumers.

The process of digitalization of brands is now similar to space exploration and requires businesses to change almost rapidly, as the digital environment is developing faster than the real world. Delay in this process is indeed like death: competitors adapt to new formats of reality very quickly.

As part of a sustainable digital brand management strategy, successful companies will use all possible online channels to increase their brand awareness, customer engagement, and market reach.