Branding in Digital Age

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SPOTLIGHT ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE NEW RULES OF BRANDING

Branding in the Digital Age
by David C. Edelman


You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places

Included with this full-text Harvard Business Review article: 1 Article Summary Idea in Brief—the core idea 2 Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places

Reprint R1012C

SPOTLIGHT ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE NEW RULES OF BRANDING

Branding in the Digital Age
You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places

Idea in Brief
Consumers today connect with brands in fundamentally new ways, often through media channels that are beyond manufacturers’ and retailers’ control. That means traditional marketing strategies must be redesigned to accord with how brand relationships have changed. Once, a shopper would systematically winnow his brand choices to arrive at a final selection and complete his engagement by making a purchase. Now, relying heavily on digital interactions, he evaluates a shifting array of options and remains engaged with the brand through social media after a purchase. Smart marketers will study this “consumer decision journey” for their products and use the insights they gain to revise strategy, media spend, and organizational roles.

COPYRIGHT © 2010 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

page 1

SPOTLIGHT ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE NEW RULES OF BRANDING

Branding in the Digital Age
by David C. Edelman

You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places

COPYRIGHT © 2010 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The internet has upended how consumers engage with brands. It is transforming the economics of marketing and making obsolete many of the function’s traditional strategies and structures. For marketers, the old way of doing business is unsustainable. Consider this: Not long ago, a car buyer would methodically pare down the available choices until he arrived at the one that best met his criteria. A dealer would reel him in and make the sale. The buyer’s relationship with both the dealer and the manufacturer would typically dissipate after the purchase. But today, consumers are promiscuous in their brand relationships: They connect with myriad brands—through new media channels beyond the manufacturer’s and the retailer’s control or even knowledge—and evaluate a shifting array of them, often expanding the pool before narrowing it. After a purchase these consumers may remain aggressively engaged, publicly promoting or assailing the products they’ve bought, collaborating in the brands’ development, and challenging and

shaping their meaning. Consumers still want a clear brand promise and offerings they value. What has changed is when—at what touch points—they are most open to influence, and how you can interact with them at those points. In the past, marketing strategies that put the lion’s share of resources into building brand awareness and then opening wallets at the point of purchase worked pretty well. But touch points have changed in both number and nature, requiring a major adjustment to realign marketers’ strategy and budgets with where consumers are actually spending their time.

Block That Metaphor
Marketers have long used the famous funnel metaphor to think about touch points: Consumers would start at the wide end of the funnel with many brands in mind and narrow them down to a final choice. Companies have traditionally used paid-media push marketing at a few well-defined points along the funnel to build awareness, drive consideration, and

harvard business review • december 2010

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Branding in the Digital Age •• •S POTLIGHT ON S OCIAL M EDIA AND THE N EW R ULES OF B RANDING

David C. Edelman (david_edelman@ mckinsey.com) is a coleader of McKinsey & Company’s Global Digital Marketing Strategy practice.

ultimately inspire purchase. But the metaphor fails to capture the shifting nature of...
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