Branding is being turned upside-down
Yes, that’s what I think, and I think it’s wonderful! This means change, and with change come challenges, opportunities and of course, some risks as well.
I would like to take a moment to explain why – in my opinion – branding is going through this transformation.
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Communication is key
Most branding professionals have recognised that there’s no effective way to communicate a message to an external audience, unless your own internal colleagues know, understand and “believe” it first. Alignment is key, and we recognise now that inside = outside.
There has also been an ‘explosion’ in the number of channels and touch points and this rise of digital brings its own challenges when it comes to maintaining full control and consistent brand strategy. Nowadays it’s all about orchestrating, listening and maintaining a dialogue. It’s about collaborating and adapting, not about controlling and one-way communication.
Last but not least, an increasing number of young businesses are hitting incumbents across all sectors with their disruptive business models – often facilitated by the vast digital possibilities available. I have also noticed that for many businesses, their ‘online’ and ‘digital’ are fairly well-funded, independent and highly dynamic, however branding is often only considered an afterthought with no clear strategy or vision.
So what’s the outcome when all these factors are combined? First and foremost, it means that interactivity and agility become increasingly important. The question is of course, how an organisation can optimise itself for this on a branding level. In my experience this can mean fundamentally rethinking the organisational setup of any branding function as existing structures can tend to not be very flexible. Next to this, knowing what your purpose is and what it means, and then ensuring the intense sharing of this knowledge and internal education programmes, is vital.
Personally, I am fascinated by the organisational dimensions of branding within businesses. When talking to clients and working on routes to explore the future, the trend we are beginning to see is that creativity and content are being brought in-house, allowing for organisations to increase their agility in the market place. Also we see that corporations understand the need for enduring internal engagement programmes in cooperation with human resource functions. Longevity is the crux here, as instilling purpose into an organisation is more likely to take four to seven years than one year alone. For agencies this can also mean having to embrace new business models in order to cope with changing dynamics on the client-side.
If I can make one prediction, it is that those who get this transition right will become the Chief Brand Officers in their organisation. Those who won’t embrace change and embark on the journey face losing relevance and ultimately, function.
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