Building a digital brand


Building a digital brand

Tuesday 9th June 2015
9:00am - 12:00pm
Farringdon, London

This event has now passed. This is the EVENT SUMMARY

Our latest Together We’re Better event was held on the 9th June 2015. Those in attendance included people from organisations as diverse as WWF, British Council, vIsnpired, The Brooke, PETA UK, and Plan UK. Presenting were Oliver Hall, Creative Director at Sift Digital, and Collette Collins, Deputy Director of International Communications at World Animal Protection.

With the Chatham House Rule in place at our events, attendees joined in the conversation and expressed views without them being publicly attributable to the individual or their organisation.

A summary of Oliver’s talk can be found below, and Collette’s in the blog ‘Building a brand with digital at its heart’.

The definition of brand

Oliver kicked off the day by explaining how the definition of brand has evolved.

In 1960 the American Marketing Association defined brand as:

“A name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them which is intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers to differentiate them from those of competitors”

Now though, this definition requires expansion. Opening up the floor to examine what is missing from this 50 year old description, the group posited ‘emotion’, and indeed in Design Week (Jan 2015), Mike Dempsey said a brand is to an organisation:

“What it does, how it behaves and how it communicates to its customers and various audiences in all of its manifestations. Good brands want to connect with their customers on an emotional level so that they become loved and trusted.”

Brand models

Oliver looked at the steps brand has taken to move from the ‘60s to the modern definition. It has moved through a series of stages, these being broadcast, dyadic and triadic. Olly was at pains to point out that each definition has not superseded the previous, rather supplementing and adding to it. The modern brand is a multi-faceted and multi-purpose beast.

So, to address each brand stage in turn:

Broadcast brand

Corporation > Marketer > Consumer

This type of brand is inwardly focussed. It is transactional and focussed on broadcasting the organisation’s message to the consumer. Organisations simply express themselves and their messages direct to the consumer. There’s no dialogue and no two-way communication here.

It’s vital in this instance that the organisation has a clear idea of what it is, what its voice is and how it wants to express that. Without this clear identity the brand expression and experience becomes muddied and confused.

Dyadic brand

Brand <> Consumer

A dyadic brand fuels advocates, developing loyal promoters.

Dyadic brands are expressed through, and iterated within, a dialogue between the brand and the consumer. In a bid to humanise the brand, the focus is placed with the receiver, and their representation of the brand.

For a dyadic brand to work, there needs to be an investment into the creation of an emotional bond in order to drive a dialogue between the organisation and consumers. This emotional bond relies on projected animism of the brand personality. This animism makes the brand ‘someone to talk to’.

Again, it’s vital that the organisation has a distinct voice and expression, remaining consistent throughout its conversations with its audiences.

Triadic brand

<> Brand <> Consumer <> Consumer <>

A Triadic brand is owned and marketed by consumers, within their networks. Affinity between consumers, centred on or around the organisation, and the cultural collateral gained from their association with the organisation, is the basis for the community and the strength of the brand’s equity.

Here then, brands must constantly listen to their advocates and, where appropriate, involve themselves in the communities’ discussions. They must also be aware that in some circumstances they no longer have sole ownership of their brand.

Triadic brands are fluid, community owned and driven entities. They are instilled within, and with a culture, gaining equity, not just from the organisational expression (which remains important, otherwise the hub around which the community is organised is too weak) but also from the equity lent to and derived from the communities’ activity.

How is brand equity built?

“A consumer perceives a brand’s equity as the value added to the functional product or service by associating it with the brand name”  - David Aaker (1993)

That is to say it's the kudos transferred on to the consumer through their association with the brand. It's this eqiuity that dyadic and triadic brands are looking to play on and gain from their entries into their communities' worlds.

Brand formation

“When an organisation has a clear idea about itself, what its business is, what its priorities are, how it wants to conduct itself, how it wants to be perceived, its identity falls fairly easily in place” - Wally Olins 1979

So then, in the creation of a brand it is paramount that both internal and external elements are considered. Internal elements include a corporate and organisational identity - mission, values and culture. External include perceived image and reputation - loyalty and promoters.

So, for example - you may have seen this image on The Poke. Superhero Cheesecake, a web design agency had to add a sign to their window explaining that they don't sell cheesecake. They internalised their brand, and didn’t consider the perception of their audience and this led to having to make the disclaimer.

From this is example it's easy to see how vital it is to understand how you perceive and will express your brand, but also to understand how your audiences will perceive it. Too much internalising, without audience input leads to confusion.

Finally, Olly examined what the organisational effects of brand perception are:

Strong brand perception:

  • Clarity of compelling purpose
  • An ownable promise
  • Trust - delivering quality efficiently
  • Consistent identity
  • Developing relationship - familiarity and values

Weak brand perception:

  • Confused purpose
  • Broken promise
  • Lack of trust
  • Inconsistent experience
  • Just another face in the crowd

Impact of not addressing digital in brand expression

  • A confused schizophrenic identity
  • A fractured broken appearance
  • Frustrated User Experience
  • Unprofessional - inefficient
  • Unrewarding

“When an organisation has a clear idea about itself, what its business is, what its priorities are, how it wants to conduct itself, how it wants to be perceived, its identity falls fairly easily in place” - Wally Olins 1979

Advantages of a considered brand

  • Efficient
  • Great for designers - a defined approach
  • Creative & UX development
  • Management
  • Delivery
  • Platform for creative expression

Brand recognition comes from repeated message, consistency and a coherent experience.

Oliver's presentation is available on Slideshare

Image credit: Simon & His Camera on Flickr