Updated: Jan 25, 2020
First and foremost, deep apologies for the absence, it was a (positively) busy launch week, but we're back! The Digi Digs blog will be posting 2-3 times a week from now on, so look forward to receiving more and more innovative marketing thought! With time fleeting, let's begin with this weeks first post.
The old mathematical representation of brands from The Marketing Era does not apply to the digital, social-media driven age we find ourselves in today. In this discussion, we will explore a slight variation of the previous equation, offering a new formula to make your brand tick in the digital realm.
Out with the Old, in with the New
The old mathematical representation of a brand can be seen below (with some variations adding communication or culture into the equation).
Brand = Promise + Experience
Traditionally, marketers made a promise to consumers and delivered an experience which was often a disappointing experience for purchasers, in-turn, resulting in increased distrust in brands, and a distinct distaste for marketing tactics of the time. However, this equation is not applicable to the digitally and socially-oriented environment we interact in today.
Why? From the outset, as the consumer evolves over time, so do marketing philosophies become outdated, with a need to adapt to changing consumer preferences in engagement. Most notably, consumers don't trust brands today: almost 70% of consumers don’t trust advertising, with 42% holding distrust for brands, seeing them as part of 'The Establishment' and therefore "remote, unreachable, abstract and self-serving" (Zoe Harris, 2017).
Because the modern consumer/user has this lack of belief in brands and marketers, they don't need to be promised anything, instead, today, the user-consumer needs to be shown: 3/4 people have spent more with a company because of positive experiences and improved CX can increase revenue from 5-10% (and cost 15-20% less over 3 years)
This distrust and call for consumer-user experience orientation means that brands today need to be more authentic and personal with their base experiences, whilst being consistent and trustworthy in these interactions. As a result of this change, we at Digi Digs, propose The New Brand Equation.
Brand = (Experience^Story + Personality) x (Consistency + Trustworthiness)
Yes, it appears somewhat overbearing in comparison, but it is in fact simple once broken down, and is more encompassing of brand constituency in the online marketing age.
Brand = (Experience^Story + Personality) x (Consistency + Trustworthiness)
The equation above was constructed in order represent those factors that we consider most important to the structure of the modern, digital online brand- 1) Experience, 2) Story or Storytelling, 3) Personality, 4) Consistency and 5) Trustworthiness in a mathematical form that appropriately reflects the dynamic of their relationship. Below, we will discuss each of these factors, as well as what the best practices are when considering their respective implementations.
The first part of our equation stipulates that experience and storytelling are two interdependent factors that cannot effectively serve the brand building process on their own, and that the impact of experience is amplified by the power of your stories i.e. storytelling ability. We have solidified the centrality of experience in some statistics above, but to reiterate with further figures: 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated and most consumers would pay upwards of 16% extra for better CX.
The failure to account for consumer-user experience is shockingly damaging to brand engagement as 91% of customers who had a bad customer experience won’t be willing do business with your company again. Further, 86% of customers will pay for a better experience.
So what makes for a good experience? At Digi Digs, we believe a good CX is achieved through:
1) Authenticity: don't offer your consumer the overly-exaggerated promise-filled two-week cruise we used to see on TV, make your consumer-experience as real as possible and make your consumer truly feel its tangibility. In the long-run it will payoff as 94% of consumers say they’re more likely to be loyal to a brand that is fully transparent and 91% of consumers said that they are more likely to buy from an authentic brand than a dishonest brand. This can be any content from source materials (such as the hyperlinks we make sure to include in our blog posts for appropriate credit), to simple acts such as advertising true total costs of product/services offered.
2) Human-Centeredness: returning back to the point of consumers viewing brands, marketers and advertisers as part of the establishment, it is important to approach experience with the highest sense of humanism. After all, 75% of consumers around the world today desire more human interaction. In order to invoke a sense of humanism within experience, human-centeredness should be evaluated in 3 phases- 1) hearing and empathizing with the audience, 2) understanding this information through intentional synthesis and analysis and 3) modeling this newfound understanding into actions through experience.
3) Relevancy: we have discussed within our previous post but in the case of experience, experiences should be unique to the user, and consist of that content that is most relatable to the targeted consumer.
4) Seamlessness (across devices, and particularly on mobile): your brand should be responsive across all platforms and devices, with special consideration to mobile responsiveness and usability. Research indicates that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies. Further, 87% of consumers think brands need to do more to provide a seamless experience, so it is critical to brand success to ensure seamless experience for the consumer-user.
5) Memorability: as well as these four guiding thoughts, experiences should also be memorable in order to maintain top-of-the-mind awareness. Create an experience for users that is truly remarkable and unforgettable as this will ultimately make your experiences and content more sharable, stretching engagement and interaction levels.
As we've mentioned, experience alone isn't truly enough, which is where storytelling comes into the equation.
The consumer-user isn't expecting a Pulitzer prize-esque narrative, but they do want you to take some time to offer a journeyed-experience. Reflected in data, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story, illustrating his art of storytelling (that we pride ourselves on at Digi Digs) is not a myth. Additionally, messages delivered as stories can be up to 22x more memorable as those offered as plain facts. Not only is there research data to signify the need for cohesive storytelling, but science also demonstrates the effects of storytelling on brain function itself (illustrated below).
Having shown the proven value of storytelling, what does good storytelling and a good brand story actually entail? For this, we can turn to the very telling infographic below.
It is important to try to follow these steps to avoid 'wishy-washy' storytelling that can diminish the value of a brand through poor writing standards. This is why our equation is stated experience being to the power of story. Stories and storytelling alone cannot help your blossom and bloom, rather, it is something that enhances the authentic, human-centered, relevant, seamless, memorable experience being offered.
Not to get confused with marketing personalization, the second element of a complete brand is personality. In our equation, we have stated personalization in its found form as it is its own factor that directly impacts a brands state, but it is also directly intertwined to the experience^story element. This also puts forward that personality marketing should just be one small part of overall brand strategy, and not a primary focus.
In its function, a brand personality is simply a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a specific brand name aimed to increase brand equity through consistent traits specific to enjoyed consumer segments. Personality as part of overall brand architecture is what allows you to make that engagement-driving, one-to-one, human-emotive connection with your audience.
Personality can be added to a brand through:
1) Data-Driven Coloring: color psychology shows us that respective colors invoke their own emotive responses among users and consumers. For example, blue is generally associated with sensations of security and trust, which we thought were particularly important to incorporate into Digi Digs. It is therefore useful to incorporate those colors which are most appropriately illustrative of how you want your brand to appear.
Using color not only helps establish brand identity, but it also improves recognition as research has shown that a signature color can boost brand recognition by 80%. Further, the right color choice can improve readership by 40% by making content, and the brand more visually appealing.
2) Humanism and Human-Centeredness (which we discussed earlier in this blog post)
3) True Emotion & Appropriate Language/Tone: 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, so evoking specific positive emotions such as humor upon a consumer will have profound impact. More notable however, is the conscious connection that consumers say they feel with brands: 65% of people that feel an emotional connection to a brand, say it’s because “they care about people like me.” This is why we say true emotion- brand personality is about showing an understanding of your consumer through found empathy. Specific emotional responses can also be shown by using specific language and tone utilization that reflects the emotional appealing you wish to achieve.
4) Brand Name: believe it or not, 77% of consumers make purchases solely based on a brand name. A brand name should reflect overall personality- choose a fun name if it reflects your brands playfulness, or something more authoritative if you need to establish credibility among an audience.
By incorporating appropriate personalities into brand strategies through consideration of the factors above, we now add a true personal, human touch to the brand experience as a whole, making it more relatable to the user-consumer. This needs to be something that is maintained over time, and cannot be a temporary fix including during an IMC.
This is why we also include consistency as an element of our brand equation. As just stated above, in order to truly establish a brand, marketing branding efforts need to be consistent over time. When we mention consistency in this regard, we are not referring to the seamlessness across devices, more so, we are referring to the established consistency in branding over time. That is, the degree to how consistent branding is over time, will have a direct impact on the overall foundations of the brand itself. This is something the user is highly aware of, and something they expect in their brand experience- 75% of users expect a consistent experience wherever they engage whether it be social networks, in-person, online or by phone.
Lastly, and tied into the extent of brand, whilst being closely related to consistency, is trustworthiness. We have discussed online privacy, security and safety concerns before, and in this blog post, we have also noted the high degree of distrust that users and consumers hold for brands, marketers and advertisements. As a result, the degree to which consumers can trust a brand, will also directly impact the extent of a brand.
The aim of this discussion has been an attempt to account for the further factors that we believe need to be incorporated into the old brand equation, so to account for marketing changes in the digital and social-media driven age we currently live in. This has been an original piece of thought, so we are very inviting to discussion on this post. Do you agree with our equation? Is there something you would change or rearrange? Is there another factor you feel should be integrated, or or that you feel outweighs elements we chose?
Let us know, and as always, feel free to like, comment and share! :)