Building brands in a changing society

The Challenge of Telling Brand Stories in the Era of Social Media

We know that brands are most effective when all their elements – logo, packaging, advertising, retail presence, service experience – come together as a single unique personality. Yet, in today’s world of marketing, our means of communicating have never been more fragmented. Thanks to social media, brand messages are literally delivered in bits and pieces: a Facebook comment, a 140-character tweet, a Pinterest image, a LinkedIn update.

While the benefits of social media are many—opening a two-way dialogue with consumers, influencing word-of-mouth, building rich stores of data—the challenges for brands can’t be ignored. In particular, brands must consider how to tell a coherent story across a growing array of platforms. It’s one thing to keep a brand consistent across television, print, and online; it’s quite another to manage a brand across Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and whatever new platform emerges next year or next month. Add in a noisy chorus of consumer and competitor voices and it may feel like the brand idea is stretched to its limit.

How can marketers take advantage of all that social media offers while protecting the integrity of the central brand idea? Is it even realistic that one idea can support conversations with millions of consumers across hundreds of platforms in multiple formats? 

Over the next few posts, I will explore the challenges and opportunities that social media offers to marketers based on my conversations with marketing executives in Canada, the US, the UK, and Europe. My conclusion is that, given the demands of today’s media landscape, it’s never been more important for all marketing efforts to be unified under a powerful brand idea. The technology may be evolving rapidly but the imperative for brand cohesion and consistency remains the same.

Up next: Why a powerful brand idea is still an essential building block for a strong business.

For more on this topic, see my white paper, Why the Brand Idea Still Matters in the Age of Social Media.


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