…User Experience IS the Brand
Is it 'digital marketing' or 'interactive marketing'? I am never sure which is better to use, so I use them interchangeably. The confusion is understandable–I guess. The world of digital marketing ushered in the completely new concept of being able to interact with the message being put out by an advertiser. We take it for granted at this point, but 'clicking' on an ad' was a pretty amazingly novel idea a little more than 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, as I have written about before in this blog, I believe the industry actually may have leaned too far into this novelty. 'Interaction' quickly became a tactic to be measured, rather than a part of the strategy to be incorporated. By 'ponying up' on the idea that interaction could now be measured, digital advertising may have tied a weight to itself that it is only now learning that it must shed.
The truth is that the interactivity (the ability to engage and control our experience) offered by digital media provides advertisers the chance to completely rethink their brand strategy. In a world where interaction is the norm, a user's brand experience becomes three dimensional. A brand advertiser can now focus on the look and feel of his brand, while also focusing on the core benefits and attributes of his brand, and perhaps more interestingly, on how to create interactive extensions of those benefits and attributes in which to immerse his potential target.
We do ourselves a disservice, however, when we try too hard to make this point. When a digital marketing player starts talking with a brand advertiser about the user experience possibilities, he often becomes so passionate about the picture he is painting that it seems to be a zero sum game, where all advertising dollars would be best spent in the digital (rather than the traditional) realm. The knee jerk reaction to being told that everything you are doing must change, is certainly predictable and it is of little surprise that brand advertisers often end up rejecting the idea that interactivity could assist in the job of brand building.
In order to move forward, we must start thinking more about how digital and interactive media advertising can play a role in the overall brand strategy, and in fact, work to magnify and compliment parts of a campaign that are executed across traditional media. The 'user experience' of the brand can begin in one medium and continue in another…one that allows more exploration. In his commentary on MediaPost today, Olof Schybergson, CEO of Fjord, a 10-year-old digital design firm, explores this possible solution to the feud between digital and branding as he lays out a number of points that today's brand advertiser should ask himself in light of the interactive possibilities. Schybergson also explains:
There are many great examples of integrated campaigns that truly take a user on a useful and enhanced journey with the brand. Companies that are getting this right, often capture user interest or trigger a thought in the offline world, and then engage and provide additional information and buy-in online.
This kind of integrated media campaign is absolutely the path forward. Bringing the digital experience into the planning stages of a cross media campaign will open some important doorways in creating new levels of brand engagement, and therefore brand favorability..and isn't that what 'branding' really means?
The bottom line is, that in an interactive world, user experience is the brand.
Check out www.strategyisthenewcreative.com for more of our ongoing conversation on the importance of bringing interactive strategy into the creative branding process.
David Shay is the EVP of Marketing for CPX Interactive, a global online ad network. David came to the world of online advertising after a career as a practicing attorney. He joined the CPX team as the 13th employee in 2006. David can be reached at email@example.com.
Read all David's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at CPX Interactive.
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