Much Ado About Digital Brand Strategy
It’s been a difficult few months, to say the least. But chaos and creativity often go hand-in-hand. With the “new” normal right around the corner, how can brands harness some of the madness to rebuild? Forward-thinking creatives might start by turning back 400 years…
Between 1603 and 1613 The Globe Theatre was shut for 78 months due to bubonic plague ripping through London’s streets. The lockdown occurred just as William Shakespeare was nearing his zenith in popularity as the nation’s favourite bard. At the time, doctors had no idea the illness originated from fleas and his theatre was one of many placed under suspicion as a possible cause due to the lewd nature of its performances. In reality the Globe would have been a hotbed for spreading the sickness because of the close proximity of the flea-ridden theatre goers watching its shows, not because of its contentious content.
It wasn’t the first time Shakespeare was hit by the plague. London had been struck by pestilence once before in 1592. During that particular outbreak Shakespeare used his time in lockdown to write two narrative poems: Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. In Shakespeare’s case it’s clear that necessity is the mother of invention. Unable to sell performative pieces, for obvious reasons, he opted to write non-performative works instead. As creatives we produce our most vital work when we’re backed into a corner and given no choice but to find a smart way back out of it. Historically it’s been no different for brands and the advertising agencies behind them. Problem solving is what we do.
It became obvious early on in the Covid-19 crisis that businesses who weren’t established online were going to find it a lot harder than those who were. Amazon Prime subscriptions swelled to a mammoth $5.6 billion (US) during the early days of the global lockdown. And, mail-order giants aside, plenty of local retailers managed to maintain good business during the worst of the difficulties, too, largely thanks to having a robust digital strategy that allowed them to maintain connections when they couldn’t meet customers in person. Those who found it difficult to reach their clients through more traditional means were forced to get creative and to bolster their presence online out of sheer necessity.
What makes a great online strategy, then? How do you get people to listen to you when they have so much other content vying for their attention all at the same time? A brand strategy and its online advertising counterpart is a holistic, living thing and it needs to come across as such in order to maintain your customers commitment to it.
That is to say, your brand can’t survive without an online strategy and your online strategy can’t survive without decent branding. If you imagine your overall brand strategy is a seed, you have to plant it and water it regularly before you get to see it bloom. Your presence online plays a crucial role in ensuring that your brand stays nourished. Get your digital strategy wrong and you run the risk of your customers choosing an episode of Tiger King over you, or worse, your brand dying of malnourishment.
The first step in any digital marketing plan is to know exactly who you’re talking to. Use data-driven insights to get the right adverts to the right people at the right time. Create targeted ads and take advantage of tools like SEO and SEM to ensure your website appears at the top of search results when your customers are actively looking for you. Secondly, keep the conversation going by maintaining a presence on social media and using tools like Facebook advertising to reach them when they’re browsing during downtime.
Create further publicity for your brand by crafting consistently entertaining content that they’ll want to consume. And address any queries or comments your customers might have through all the different social channels available to you and to them. Lastly, stay in touch – regular email marketing lets them know you’re still around and that their relationship is important to you.
All of that is to say you need to create and maintain a community online for your brand. You need to attract people to that community and to give them good reason to want to return to it time and time again.
Rest assured that if Shakespeare had a website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at his disposal during the six and a half years he was out of the limelight (or candlelight, as the case might be) he definitely would have used them to his advantage.
He may have even broadcasted one of his plays on YouTube from self-isolation, or treated fans to a recording of a previous performance for free, just as The Globe theatre is doing today. If when all of this is finally over you don’t want your customers to turn around and cry “Alas, poor brand, I hardly knew ye!” then you have to be willing to do the same.
“If online advertising be the food of decent brand strategy, then play on, my friends, play on…”.
To have us put on a performance for your brand, get a quote here.
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