Digital media professionals often hear, “Show me the ROI.” While many businesses continue to debate how best to quantify links between digital media and sales, and analyze if it’s time to embrace digital strategy, technology has already fundamentally changed life for consumers. Digital has shaped how people interact with brands, as well as their expectations, catapulting us into a post-digital age.
When news broke of Jez Frampton’s new white paper —Branding in the Post-Digital World — and featured piece for Fast Company — 5 Ways to Build Brands in the Post-Digital World — on life for brands in a post-digital age, we heard questions from followers in our own social media communities about what it means to be post-digital and if this truly changes the landscape for brands. In these pieces Interbrand’s Global CEO undertook an extensive review of our research and lessons learned from direct experience with brands, aiming to answer these questions.
As consumers use digital media to provide their feedback, interact with one another to rally around or critique brands, and build influential online voices, it is clear that businesses must rethink the relationship between brands and consumers. Before the digital age, businesses could create products and strategies internally and then introduce them to the public. In the post-digital age, consumers expect to be part of molding businesses, collaborating organically with them to shape the future of brands.
It is time for brands to shift their thinking about business models from “business to consumer” to “business and consumer.” Indeed at Interbrand we have developed the language “B&C” and “B&B” to describe this significant shift to a shared-space way of thinking where brands work with consumers, engaging them and working to build understanding.
Consumer conversations are now powerfully shaping brand image and it is no longer enough to merely listen. As Frampton notes, “It’s time to tear up the traditional ‘funnel’ model of consumer purchasing. Consumers now go through a dynamic, non-linear decision-making process.” Online fellow-consumer reviews of products now hold more sway in purchasing decisions than ever before.
In discussing Frampton’s work we also heard some surprise that some brands haven’t embraced digital or developed strategies to maximize its potential to position themselves as leaders in the post-digital world. In fact, Interbrand’s Marketplace Survey, key research in developing these pieces, found in its survey of more than 800 companies that 16% report their company is “digitally inactive” and more than one third of respondents feel that inadequate resources have been dedicated to their company’s digital experience and presence. As many as 25% say their company does not actively solicit consumer feedback on post-purchase experiences.
So what can brands do? Digital can and should be seen as central to building brands and their management strategies. Customer experiences can be enhanced, loyalty strengthened and methods to better serve markets developed through holistic approaches to digital that truly impact how brand owners operate. High-level creative consulting and leadership can help businesses recognize the best ideas from within the noise, position brands as future drivers of success and make that genuine leap of thought from the dawn of digital to the reality of the post-digital world.
Amy Edel-Vaughn is Interbrand's Community Manager.