Online Branding in the 21st Century

I had a couple of interesting conversations at the seminar the other day, one in particular about the idea that I was ignoring branding and its importance. It got me thinking at the time and I wasn’t too sure how to respond. I have been thinking more and more about this concept of branding and how un-important it is compared to 20 years ago. I have a feeling that a lot of marketers are still thinking that families are all sitting together in front of the television eating their dinner together.

Family watching television together in the 1980’s

I used to do this with my family as we watched all of the sit coms together. I think its important to state that things might have changed just a little and marketers might want to just take a look at some of the changes in media consumption. There is more than just the television now and there is one emerging media called the internet that is making a big change. I personally prefer to surf on the internet than to watch ad infested television. I will watch a DVD or record something with Foxtel iQ rather than watch free to air television. I almost feel that watching free to air television is like the lowest rung when I want to be entertained. If I am watching free to air television I feel I am scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I was speaking with a client yesterday and I asked them if they have seen some of the latest things McDonalds were doing. They said, “No, I haven’t seen it because I don’t watch television anymore.” He doesn’t watch television? Have you noticed more and more people saying this these days. 20 years ago you would never have heard anyone say that they don’t watch television. Television was the way in which everyone connected and had something to talk about. We talked about the shows and watched them at the same time from our own homes. Because everyone was watching and all at the same time it made sense to just advertise then and cover everyone. It was a very smart way to advertise if you had the money because you hit so many people all at once. I found back then that I didn’t have much choice in what I could purchase because I only was provided with one medium television to choose from. All the brands that were shown on television were the brands I knew existed and so I would make my limited selection from them. The situation now is that I can go onto Google and type in a type of product and be presented with a whole host of different choices. I couldn’t care if I knew of the brand or not because I will just read the reviews of someone else who has purchased this product before. I don’t have to listen to one medium I can just get the information I need myself.

This change in consumers being able to get more choice and information more easily has dramatically changed the way in which consumers purchase. If you remember everyone sitting together watching television, think of what you do now. Before you make a purchase or go somewhere do you find yourself going online to get more information? When you go online do you get more choice? As the consumer gets used to using even more advanced forms of this process (e.g. reading reviews, writing reviews and rating products/companies), I think you will see branding become even less powerful. The key now is more niche targeted products and services which were not possible before without the internet.

Where do you think branding is going?

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