As a result of the current innovative experience driven economy, brands and their functioning have the opportunity to utilise digital platforms to build themselves and reach new market segments. However, these brands are functioning in a market defined by consumers as providing worthless clutter due to immense number of brands trying to compete against one another. This is emphasised by Anonymous (2009a) who states that forty three percent of South African consumers develop powerful filters to protect themselves from this clutter and as a result it is harder for brands to capture their attention. Furthermore, in order for these brands to not only survive but also thrive by gaining a competitive advantage, which according to Whitford (2008) is imperative in the competitive race that they are operating in, it is essential for the development of a new digital platform, as a brand, that offers the prospect to build itself, present a brand experience and create new avenues for the consumer to interact with the brand. The importance of this is accentuated by Swart (2009:83) as he states that brands need to provide customers with authentic experiences and interaction in order to create brand loyalty. The purpose of this essay will be to discuss one such innovative digital platform, “The Online Doctor,” as well as to critically discuss, from a strategic digital branding perspective, the various elements that need to be taken into consideration to ensure that this new digital platform, “The Online Doctor,” is an effective and creative brand building tool through the following: the existing economy, the application of digital platforms in the South African marketing communications landscape, the effectiveness of digital platforms in building brands, development and goals of “The Online Doctor”, the realism and ability to execute “The Online Doctor”, the need for “The Online Doctor” with regard to the target market, promotion tactics for “The Online Doctor,” design ideologies of “The Online Doctor,” the need for online reputation management and online public relations and the dynamics of tracking tools.
2. THE EXISTING ECONOMY
The marketing communication landscape has changed significantly in the way that brands and businesses communicate with consumers and consequentially has resulted in the new economy or digital economy. Furthermore, this digital economy emphasises knowledge and information and how it is applied within a specific context as a commercial and competitive tool, (Cook & Muir, 2010:374). In the development of this new digital landscape, the internet prevails as one of the most important communication and information technologies as it operates as a strategic business and communication resource due to its ability to offer consumers the opportunity to function in an environment that has no geographic or time boundaries. This is of significant value to the new consumer who encounters time pressure on a daily basis. In addition the internet further proves to be a fresh business resource as it has led to the creation of a new marketplace in which consumers do not need to visit a physical store in order to make a purchase and is therefore referred to as the marketspace. Additionally the Internet and its functioning has created an innovative experience driven economy in which the delivery of personalised experiences to consumers has become imperative to the success of businesses and brands functioning in this economy. Cook and Muir (2010:374) highlight the essence of the experiences for consumers in view of the value of a product. This is further emphasised by Herber (2010) that the time has come where ensuring a person an individual experience is crucial. Furthermore, as several traditional mass marketing and communication tools have failed to provide consumer experiences, swift acceptance and use of digital communication to launch and develop brands has resulted. Digital communication is defined by...
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