Branding in the Digital Age

I’m not normally one for reading (or writing) long blog posts. But Im really glad I spent time last week reading a post on Think Tank, it was a repost of an article David Edelman wrote for Harvard Business Review called Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places

I am not going to re post the article today, so you can go and read it here (and I would highly recommend you do, so here is the link again) but I just wanted to pull out some of the highlights from it. It got my attention from the start when its said

For marketers, the old way of doing business is unsustainable.

Edelman reminds us that

Not long ago, a car buyer would methodically pare down the available choices until he arrived at the one that best met his criteria. A dealer would reel him in and make the sale. The buyer’s relationship with both the dealer and the manufacturer would typically dissipate after the purchase.

But that has changed and today,

consumers are promiscuous in their brand relationships: They connect with myriad brands—through new media channels beyond the manufacturer’s and the retailer’s control or even knowledge—and evaluate a shifting array of them, often expanding the pool before narrowing it. After a purchase these consumers may remain aggressively engaged, publicly promoting or assailing the products they’ve bought, collaborating in the brands’ development, and challenging and shaping their meaning.

He reminds us that consumers still want a clear brand promise and offerings they value. But what has changed is

when—at what touch points—they are most open to influence, and how you can interact with them at those points. In the past, marketing strategies that put the lion’s share of resources into building brand awareness and then opening wallets at the point of purchase worked pretty well. But touch points have changed in both number and nature, requiring a major adjustment to realign marketers’ strategy and budgets with where consumers are actually spending their time.

Edelman goes on to challenge the famous funnel metaphor when thinking about touch points, but this metaphor fails to capture the shifting nature of consumer engagement. What is now being proposed is the “consumer decision journey” (CDJ).  Far from systematically narrowing their choices, today’s consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: consider, evaluate, buy, and enjoy, advocate, bond.

The article goes on to highlight the four stages of the journey, which are well worth reading (in fact I may do a follow up post with them) and also goes on to give examples of the journey and discussing a new role for marketing.

Finally this nice summary I found useful

Block That Metaphor
Then: The Funnel Metaphor

For years, marketers assumed that consumers started with a large number of potential brands in mind and methodically winnowed their choices until they’d decided which one to buy. After purchase, their relationship with the brand typically focused on the use of the product or service itself.

Now: The Consumer Decision Journey

New research shows that rather than systematically narrowing their choices, consumers add and subtract brands from a group under consideration during an extended evaluation phase. After purchase, they often enter into an open-ended relationship with the brand, sharing their experience with it online.

Consider & Buy

Marketers often overemphasize the “consider” and “buy” stages of the journey, allocating more resources than they should to building awareness through advertising and encouraging purchase with retail promotions.

Evaluate & Advocate

New media make the “evaluate” and “advocate” stages increasingly relevant. Marketing investments that help consumers navigate the evaluation process and then spread positive word of mouth about the brands they choose can be as important as building awareness and driving purchase.


If consumers’ bond with a brand is strong enough, they repurchase it without cycling through the earlier decision-journey stages.

I found the article here


One thought on “Branding in the Digital Age

  1. Pingback: Branding in the Digital Age « Conor Byrne's Blog - Brand Management World

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