Building a Brand in the Digital Economy

Our VP of Brand Strategy Alena Caras talks about what it takes to build a world-class brand in the digital economy, and she’s done it first-hand. We tapped Alena for the next episode of Bold Steps and Misses to talk about developing and executing a brand strategy.

Alena talks about…

The willingness to pivot:

“Brands today have a lot that they’re up against,” and as a result, they have to keep pace with change, challenge the status quo and constantly evolve in order to remain relevant. Reviewing an organization’s brand is no small feat, it takes commitment from leadership and a strong advocate to drive the evolution of a brand. Using data, organizations can sense-check how the brand is resonating and leverage those points to challenge the status quo. “Brand strategy, when done well, sets you apart from the competition and drives growth for the organization,” but it starts with a willingness to pivot.

The misconception with brand strategy:

“It’s more than just a logo, it’s more than just a tagline update, it really is the roadmap that helps you communicate consistently with your audience in a way that’s going to resonate. If the brand doesn’t resonate, it’s not going to drive growth for your business.”

Brands have less control over their messaging in the digital economy. Today, it’s all in the hands of the customer. “Learning about how your customers want to engage with your brand starts with knowing the data and being open to changing the way you do things.”

“The audience really does dictate a lot of what happens and a lot of the decisions that brands make around how they will communicate their story. The upfront research is critical here.” Using social listening tools, brands can glean insights around how to interact with their audience, common words to use, platforms to amplify the brand based on audience preference and so forth. While social listening can be powerful, it’s only one of the many ways to take the pulse of the brand. Doing the research and knowing these insights allows a brand to make more informed decisions about their identity and their marketing messages moving forward.

Amazon’s unique approach:

“The approach that Amazon takes is really interesting; they start with the end in mind and then work backwards. They call this a work-back plan. Before they develop a new product as part of their strategy, they write a press release that outlines all the features and benefits of the new product. Once the press release has gone through a rigorous review process and adjustments are made, the production process begins. The work-back plan allows the brand to create a product that’s in-line with their strategy and also addresses the end-customer’s needs and wants. By scrutinizing those needs states and by working backwards, Amazon is able to create total alignment with leadership, the branding team and the development team.”

Where brand strategy works best:

“Where I’ve seen brand strategy creation work well is when an organization empowers an agency to come in with an independent point of view to assess the lay of the land – scrutinizing those need states and understanding the current brand architecture. How are the brands connected to each other? How are they disconnected? Are there opportunities to cross-sell across brands that they’re not necessarily looking at the moment?”

To learn more:

Reach out to Alena Caras at acaras@hotpaperlantern.com if you would like to learn more about how we’ve helped organizations solidify their brand strategies.