The world we live in today, and far more so into the future, is super connected, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc etc the list is endless. And with this connectivity comes challenges, certainly in the world of branding.
The challenge is huge, after all, it wasn't that long ago that a disgruntled member of staff could at best go to the press, see if anyone was interested, and probably only be able to warn their friends about any wrong doing. Or if a customer was dissatisfied with their purchase, they may use some word of mouth to spread their pain, but other than that, they all too often couldn't do much at all. But times have changed, and now people have hundreds of channels to spread their opinions, sentiments etc, and before long those words will spread, and very fast.
What this means is that companies now can't just state what they are, preach their vision and mission and their values to their customers, or make unfounded statements about their brand messages - how they are there for their customer, or how the quality of their products far outweighs that of their competitors. These days they have to make sure that their brand is lived right through to the end result, so that people can see for themselves that their product IS better than their competitors, or that they ARE there for their customers. Therefore branding has a different role, well in honesty it is the same role, it's just that the values and strategy that they define now has to be honest and true, and they have to be lived by these companies, not just mantras to sell more products.
What this does today, is mean that your average decent branding agency needs to go further than what they have in the past, not just create brand strategies that give a company a clear brand direction, they need to help them build their future, define strategic brand pathways, knowledge sharing, reward programmes, sure, most larger companies have these in place, but I rarely see these working in harmony with their brand strategy, and intertwining these with the overarching brand and what that brand is telling its customers is imperative.
So, given that the task for branding agencies today is far harder than it has been in the past, what else is there to think about? well, the challenge is knowing how a brand is looking in the actual world, building and reading measurement tools, and effecting channels, such as social media, direct media, advertising, product etc. So the average agency these days needs to know what channels to understand, that could be Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pintrest, Tumblr, all kinds of forums and blogs, it's getting tougher, more complex and more challenging, but I suppose that is the nature of branding, for every new tool that makes life easier, comes something that makes life harder, and we are starting to understand that knowing 'us', knowing our 'customers', 'where' our customers 'talk and share', 'listening and learning' we can build better companies through better branding.
Joseph Hedges associated with Branding by Garden, a London based branding agency, branding company provides brand consulting, brand design, brand strategy, identity design, corporate identity and naming.