Is Branding Dead?

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Is Branding Dead?

Marketers want efficient media spend, so why does  TV have the lion’s share of advertising dollars in the US? Measuring a TV spot’s effectiveness is a little like a craps shoot, isn’t it?

The runner-up in ad spend is online advertising, which is extremely effective at measurement and tracking.

James Zhao writes that “what matters is not the absolute amount of spend, but the ratio of consumer attention. As the Internet eclipses TV in consumer attention, the advertising budgets will follow.”

“Anyone and everyone who works in advertising knows the famous John Wanamaker adage: ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.’”



JR Little, strategy director, Carat Global Management recently wrote that he realized branding was indeed dead and advertising was wasteful after “15 years of trying to be more than logos and taglines in both advertising and branding agencies.”

“Traditional strategic communications ways of working should be rethought and reversed by putting media and tech relationships first,” he added. “Those agencies and clients that embrace the disruption first, will stand out and prosper — without a keen knowledge of the consumers’ media and technology behaviors, an agency has no ability to design a useful experience.”

Little says the strategic communications industry was designed to serve a communications environment that doesn’t exist anymore.

“TV, print, and in-store environments are not the centre of a user’s experience,” he wrote. “As a matter of fact, the user experience has become a fragmented one where different devices compete for the user’s attention and the user’s attention span gradually decreases.” He proposes rethinking and reversing the ways of working.

Traditionally, branding agencies develop poetic ideas expressed in visuals and words, but they are often too esoteric and hard to apply to the real world.

Mood boards. Brand essence. Huh?

Traditional agencies then interpret the brand work for more immediate communications needs and business goals (taglines and the “big idea”). Finally, the media agency would be asked to simply buy the right spots on the cheap to show up in front of the consumer.

“This one-way communications model and flow of work was highly effective when traditional TV, print and in-store environments were important consumer touch points, but those days are long gone. Today, content that is shared in real-time across tech is critical.”

He concludes that, the internal flow of work should be flipped from brand-ad-media to media-ad-brand.

“Understanding your consumers’ world, deeper motivations and daily behaviours should be the start,” Little writes, “not the end.”

So what will you do? And will you make sure your agency is giving you clear ROI and maximum data? With measurable marketing and ROI now taking center stage more than ever, it begs the question — is traditional branding dead?

Chime in by leaving a comment, shooting me an email or giving me a call at the office. I would love to hear your thoughts.