We’re all digital, but many of us got started in life in an analog world. We don’t need to say “digital marketing,” because it’s almost all digital now anyway. But when it comes to a brand, the rules change. Brand strategy must encompass — you guessed it — the entire brand, digital marketing and all.
If you’re someone who’s been around a bit as a brand strategist, the “digital” world, in the literal sense of word — is new. Yes, we’re all digital people living in a digital world. Yes, as marketers and product developers, we help build digital assets. But the intricacies of how the brand is woven into a digital asset? That’s always a challenge we work to solve, every time.
In branding, at a strategy level, we talk about integrating the brand promise into all consumer or customer touch points. Easy enough to say from a strategic high tower. Harder to execute. There are so many digital touch points in a consumer experience. Where do you begin?
You start by keeping the brand and the digital separate for planning purposes. Lay the foundation of each and then bring them together, periodically. (“Periodically” means at least once a year for integrated marketing planning purposes and quarterly for check-ins when creating and executing a digital brand strategy. )
So what is a digital brand strategy vs. a digital strategy? A digital brand strategy includes everything that a digital strategy has like tactics across channels—but based on the principles of your brand vision, annual objectives, positioning, and brand guidelines. In other words, you must have a good brand strategy to have a great digital brand strategy.
The brand cannot be successful if it is not communicated and exposed through digital in this day and age. But the brand cannot exist, at least for long, without a clear set of guidelines and a vision for how it will be shared. And without strategic brand guidelines (not just “do this, not that,” but rather a comprehensive brand messaging framework) it’s impossible to see your brand sing on all digital touch points.
Think about it. Even if you’re not running big campaigns, you’re dealing with a website, several social media channels, emails, media and SEO, banner ads, SEO, on and on and on it goes. This requires a consistency based off of a strong foundation. Just one or two rogue campaigns or disparate landing pages without the correct tie back to the brand strategy will begin to dilute your message and your meaning.
So what does this mean? You need the brand strategist and digital strategist and you need them often — and separately — working together while letting each of them do their own thing.