Revamping Your Brand in an Evolving Digital World

March 31, 2015 Nate Denton

There are plenty of misperceptions about brand, and it carries with it a sometimes-negative image. The word brand evokes the Madison Avenue agency with men smoking cigarettes, drinking Scotch and putting together big budget, drawn-out campaigns with slogans, logos, celebrity spokespersons and TV commercials.

Don’t get me wrong, these elements are memorable and serve a purpose. But today, brand is about much more than this. A brand isn’t just visual; it’s the personality behind the product or company that emerges through the sum total of the customer experience. Each touch point—social media, website, annual reports, customer reviews and so on—works together to define the brand.

Digital tools increase consumer influence
With the Madison Avenue approach, a brand campaign is disseminated and measured, and the process repeats. The problem is, this is one-way communication.

Today’s digital world enables two-way conversations where people not only interact with a brand, but with each other. In this model, companies no longer have complete control over their brand image as consumers are becoming increasingly influential.

The loss of complete control of brand perception means business marketers have to look at things differently, focusing on understanding, engaging and staying relevant to consumers rather than trying to regiment or control them. In a digital world, achieving brand clarity is key.

Authenticity + Delivery + Consistency = Brand Clarity
Every organization needs to discover and demonstrate consistent truths within its brand. Without authenticity, brands cannot earn the trust of the customer, and the remaining pillars become irrelevant.

After authenticity has been established, the right delivery channels need to be identified, such as digital, print, broadcast and social media. Delivery is crucial because without it the customer has no access to your brand voice.

Consistency ensures branding doesn’t deviate throughout the delivery process, and ultimately provides brand awareness, and, hopefully, brand advocates.

Branding requires new considerations in a digital world
Conveying the totality of a brand in a digital context is much more than publishing an annual report or uploading a brochure; it’s maintaining the best online representation across many formats. Applying digital thinking upfront will streamline execution and delivery of all design elements, including logos, colors, fonts and imagery. Here are a few considerations that should be applied to a digital first visual branding approach:

  • Logos are best experienced online when they’re in scalable vector graphics (SVG) format. These files allow a logo or icon to flex and scale, be interactive and keep their resolution and clarity at any size, across all devices. This is key in a responsive era.
  • Colors look differently in print than they do in digital, and considerations need to be made for online viewing and usability, especially when considering accessibility for users with visual impairments. Also remember that not all screens are created equal, so it’s important to think about the digital representation upfront and test on varying devices.
  • Be cognizant of whether the fonts you use can render properly on someone else’s screen, even if their system doesn’t recognize them. Web-safe font providers like Adobe Typekit and Google Fonts allow access to hundreds of font families that are hosted remotely so the user doesn’t have to install them on their machine for proper rendering.
  • Think about online readability, especially when it comes to character line counts. Short lines of text are much easier to follow. There are varying thoughts on the perfect character count per line but the average numbers are between 50-70.
  • Optimize imagery for the web, ensuring scalable, consistent images for the plethora of channels available. Avoid overly large image file sizes which can affect performance and lead to user frustration.

The fast-evolving digital world is what makes marketing so exciting, and marketers across every industry need to take the right steps to ensure their organizations embrace digital tools to achieve brand clarity.

Curious about what else we learned at #1NLab14 last year? Watch all of the session videos here, and look forward to more session recaps to come.

Want to learn more about brand? Check out last week's webinar with Director of Brand Planning Ryan Schulz, Creating a Digital-Centered Customer Experience: Starting with Brand.

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Nate Denton Creative Director, Experience Design

At the time of publishing, Nate was a Creative Director at One North.

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