These 4 companies are winning the online branding race

The internet has completely revolutionized how consumers engage with brands and transformed the economics of marketing.

Brands have long used the famous purchasing funnel to think about consumer touch points. However, this antiquated metaphor doesn’t tell us much beyond superficial information, as it doesn’t capture the shifting nature of consumer engagement and new digital marketing tactics that are making many strategies and structures obsolete.

Thankfully, there are some brands that are effectively embracing these changes more than others. And your company can piggyback on their successes.

Turn complaints into compliments

Nobody likes being told something negative about themselves. The key to surviving, however, is to embrace these negative comments for what they actually are: golden opportunities.

During the reign of Jon Stewart, fast food company Arby’s was the butt of many jokes. A lesser marketing department would have been nervous about Jon Stewart lambasting the Arby’s brand every chance he got. While it would have been easier to ignore the negative rants about the company until Stewart’s impending departure, Arby’s took a much riskier and counter-intuitive path.

The business created an ad highlighting Stewart’s negative comments and then paid Comedy Central to run it.

By doing so, Arby’s showed Stewart’s audience that they understand the vibe of The Daily Show. Being self-effacing and not offended signals supreme confidence, and confident brands are attractive brands.

By taking control of the situation – and in this case, even playing into it – brands are in control of the main message that individuals see.

Role of community management

For all consumer-facing businesses, a prevalent, engaged brand community is the ultimate asset. Research has shown that branded communities not only drive greater reach, but also add value at the other points of the user journey, such as encouraging conversions and improving existing customer relationships.

To varying degrees, there are three key factors that define a thriving community: feedback, advocacy, and support.

A brand that encapsulates these virtues is Lego Ideas.

Alongside Lego message boards, Lego Ideas is a creative online community for enthusiasts of the famous toy sets, allowing users to find and submit ideas for new designs.

As well as promoting the sharing of ideas, it also incorporates a competition element whereby fans can vote and offer feedback. If a design receives 10,000 votes, it will be considered by Lego to become one of the brand’s official sets, even giving the creator a percentage of the final sales.

Creativity is a core pillar of Lego. by championing creativity, the company rewards loyal customers and gives them a reason to truly invest in the brand.

Use digital touch points to increase brand awareness

In today’s increasingly digital culture, the customer journey is evolving. Many consumer touch points are owned-media channels.

As such, these digital touch points mean paying special attention to the brand experience is essential. One of the best ways to do this is via your domain extension.

New domain extensions have accumulated some pretty big numbers over the last couple of years. From Lady Gaga (bornthisway.foundation) to Slack (slack.help), thousands of companies have adopted new domains. But what brands fail to realize is that while they have the power to control everything left of the dot, some have also claimed the opportunity to keep their brand identity to the right. And when it comes to branding, what’s better than having your identity front and center… or rather right?

With the advent of the new Top-Level Domain, over 550 major organizations from around the world have applied for their own domain extension, including .nike, .canon, and .microsoft.

In fact, one of the world’s most well-known companies has begun launching sites with its brand name to the right of the dot. In late 2016, Google began rolling out domains such as www.blog.google, www.design.google, and www.environment.google – which highlights the company’s approach to sustainability.

As Tony Kirsch points out, “With Google dictating the world of search as its most dominant player and many of the domain name industry continually looking for updates on its treatment of new TLDs, the performance of .google and Google Registry’s other TLDs will be an interesting case to watch.”

But this isn’t just about vanity and marketing. These new extensions are only available to the organization.

As Troels Oerting, Chief Information Security Officer for Barclays Group, explains, “The launch of these… domain names creates a simplified online user experience, making it crystal clear to our customers that they are engaging with a genuine Barclays site.”

Perfect the online shopping experience

Marketeers know all too well the importance of brand activation and having products displayed prominently on a store shelf. But what happens when a customer doesn’t come into a store? In a digital world, the screen is your shelf. And unless you’re innovating alongside digital trailblazers, you’re going to be left behind.

To cater to this need, brands and retailers around the world have implemented various tactics to create the perfect personalized shopping experience. Pinterest embraces this curated shopping experience and continually expands upon it.

By providing users with the option to create curated collections, Pinterest uses the consumer’s past shopping experiences, interactions, and preferences to suggest community-curated collections that relate to their interests and help inspire them for their next purchase.

People come to Pinterest looking for ideas — like what to eat, what to wear, and how to decorate their homes. And when someone finds an idea on Pinterest, it often leads them to something they want to buy. And to help make it easier for people to make these ideas come to life, the company launched Buyable Pins.

By curating shopping options for potential customers and delivering a shopping experience tailored to the customer’s preferences, Pinterest has moved from social wish list to top ranking brand.

The changes buffeting brands in the digital era are not incremental — they’re fundamental. Now is the time for companies to seize every opportunity to maintain their hold on the market and revolutionize their digital marketing effectiveness.

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