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How to develop brand identity in a fast-moving digital marketplace

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Brand identity lies at the heart of all your marketing efforts. Get your brand positioning right and it can inspire thousands of winning marketing campaigns. When was the last time you seriously considered who you were? Maybe it’s time...
How to develop brand identity in a fast-moving digital marketplace

Our new series of blog posts are inspired by the University of Glasgow Online MSc Marketing programme. Today we examine brand development in the digital age.

Over the last twenty years we’ve seen a rapid growth in how companies market their products and services. Businesses big and small are in an arms race to create the best content across the digital world.

But wait!

Before launching the next fusillade of content, perhaps you should take a second look at your brand’s identity. Without a strong brand, marketing is a runaway train on broken tracks. Or like a bull in a china shop to use a more familiar metaphor (here, UK readers will be reminded of the “The Money Calm Bull”).

This begs the question: how do you establish a strong brand identity?

How to pinpoint your brand identity

discover brandThe idea of branding derives from the practice of branding cattle to differentiate one from the other. But in the world of marketing it’s about much more than standing out from the competition…

It’s about purpose.

The most successful marketing campaigns started with a thorough understanding of brand. It’s about knowing who your consumers are, what they value and how they connect with you.

A few questions will help point you in the direction of discovering your true brand identity:

• What service or product do you provide?
• How does it benefit customers?
• Who are your customers?
• What does your product represent to your customers in a deeper sense?
• What are your company’s values?
• What is your company’s culture?

Addressing these questions will help you get to the root of why you exist. Only when you’re equipped with a guiding philosophy can you have a strong basis for creating winning marketing strategies now and into the future.

A strong sense of brand ensures that marketing creativity is unleashed in a focused and strategic way. It’s also the foundation for consistent – and consistently powerful – marketing across every platform.

Brand management is just one of the courses included in the University of Glasgow Online MSc Marketing programme. Delivered by the triple-accredited Adam Smith Business School, it gives students the tools to succeed now and into the future. Discover how the programme can expand your digital marketing expertise.

Rising to the challenge of branding in a digital age

“To be in business today, means one interaction at a local restaurant can change the face of a global brand. Customer service, once an exercise done one-on-one, now happens in public. The online world has blurred with real life, making them one in the same. Today, we learn the truth about non-ethical businesses practices with ease, while at the same time those seeking to deceive continually have new tools to do so.”

– Scott Stratten, best-selling business author and keynote speaker talks branding in an age of disruption.

Once brand identity is established, it needs to be reflected in how the business operates and reinforced across all your marketing channels.

Today’s marketing channels require a level of vigilance never before required. Companies cannot afford to dip in and out of social media when it suits them, unlike traditional forms of media comms. Your consumers, indeed the wider public, will be discussing your brand whether you’re present or not.

The question is: will they highlight your brand in a positive or negative light?

The answer of course, will depend upon the quality of your product and whether you live up your stated ideals. If you claim to offer friendly customer service you’d better not have a grumpy advisor taking calls or responding to emails. If you claim to be a green company, you’d better not throw perfectly good products in the trash (we’re looking at you Amazon).

But let’s not only dwell on the dangers. There is great potential for positive outcomes too. If your bold mission statements are supported by the product and service you offer, happy customers will amplify your message. Social media teams will have good news to share and there’ll be plenty of enthusiastic case studies to display across all your channels.

It’s also an opportunity to learn. Is there something they’re telling us about the brand that we don’t already know? Are there useful critiques which we can take onboard?

This information can be used to evolve the product offering and brand messaging. Another reason why all good business leaders should seek out the views of the marketing department.

Great branding looks like this…

Here are two examples of businesses which have got brand identity down to a fine art. One a confectionary giant, the other a small, but rapidly growing, business

#1 Kit Kat

kit kat brand case study
The famous chocolate covered wafer sticks nailed its branding right from the start. The version we recognise today was originally launched in 1934 by Rowntrees after a worker at its York factory put a suggestion in a recommendation box for a snack that “a man could take to work in his pack”.

In 1958, Donald Gilles, the executive at JWT Orland, created the iconic advertising line “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”.

That simple strapline has been the cornerstone of the brand ever since. Wherever you see the brand, you’ll see the strapline. It was a big bang moment for the brand, launching thousands of marketing campaigns which continue to this day.

kit social media brand case study

But that doesn’t mean the brand has stood still. It’s always developing different flavour offerings and more recently launched a new vegan version in order to keep the brand fresh and relevant. Its current owner, Nestle, boasts of its ethical credentials in its “Ethical Cocoa Plan” (though some socially aware consumers may well scoff at this claim!).


#2 Imperfect Foods

Imperfect Foods brand case

The premise of this company taps into rising concerns over food waste. Launched in 2015, Imperfect Foods is a US company which allows people to shop for “imperfect” groceries which would previously have ended up in the trash can. Sustainability is the company’s reason for being and not a cynical marketing ploy.

Imperfect Foods offers useful insights into food waste, exploring the scale of the problem, and how to solve it. It even highlights the challenges the business faces itself. You get the sense that the brand and its customers are on a journey of mutual interest. What better way to build brand loyalty than through genuine purpose?

Environmentally friendly food without paying a premium: now that’s a mission statement to envy.

Perfect your brand, unleash your potential

Brand identity is the launchpad for successful start-ups and a gift that keeps giving for multi-national corporations. If you take the time to consider you brand and uncover its true reason for being, you too can improve the results of your marketing and the prospects for ongoing business success.

Would you like to upgrade your marketing expertise and enhance your career path? Brand management is taught alongside a full range of new and traditional marketing disciplines in the Online MSc Marketing programme at the University of Glasgow.

Delivered by the triple-accredited Adam Smith Business School, it explores the latest topics from analytics to user experience, along with core marketing essentials. Find out how you can unlock new opportunities in your marketing career.

Mel Dixon
Author: Mel Dixon
Editor at Global Marketing Alliance

Editor and freelance writer wading his way through the world of data. One step at a time. Interested in data driven marketing insights supported by... data.

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