The Modern Brand’s Biggest Challenges

With the Digiday Brand Conference approaching, Digiday asked some of the speakers their opinions on the biggest challenges facing the modern brand in terms of crafting a digital strategy. For more, be sure to attend the conference on September 19 in New York.

Remi Carlioz, senior head of digital at Puma
When creating a digital strategy, it is essential to accept that we do not control content or conversation. As a brand, we are speaking to the Flipboard generation — an army of digital natives who form the verge culture. Youth effortlessly consume and interact with media in different ways and across various platforms; they are resourceful, heterogeneous, non-committal creators, both influenced and influential. It is undoubtedly necessary to find and engage with this demographic where they digitally reside, rather than relentlessly, always trying to usher them back to a brand’s owned platform. Brands are too self-centered and must boldly act on the desire that the consumer possesses the desire to transparently experience and interact with a brand online.

Josh Nafman, digital brand manager for PepsiCo
The rate of digital innovation is fast and getting faster. Every week there is a new startup demanding attention, and brands are viewing these companies as essential partners and properties with whom they need to activate. This is a problem, as brands are mistaking partnerships/tactics for digital strategy and pulling apart their digital branding rather than solidifying it. Brands need to show restraint when chasing the latest technologies by asking if the opportunities are right for the brand — and how to use them if they are.

Christina Bennett, social media manager at Elizabeth Arden
A key challenge when creating a digital strategy is balancing numerous objectives. Brands have to cultivate an authentic conversational voice and have a consistent content-curation strategy, while remaining true to their corporate identity and accomplishing brand objectives. A brand’s digital presence needs to be interesting enough for fans to want to engage, offer compelling content, push the brand’s message and serve as a credible expert all at the same time. Another challenge is mobilizing an organization around a digital strategy. To keep pace with this ever-changing medium, digital can’t stand by itself; it needs to be a cross-functional partnership. The digital team needs to take calculated risks, but also align with the brand’s offline strategy so consumers have a consistent experience at all touch-points.

Linda Boff, executive director, global digital marketing at GE
The challenge — and opportunity — for modern brands is to be their most authentic, most transparent and most engaging selves. Content and context are equally important and demand a deep understanding of each digital platform.

Aubrey Flynn, brand content director for Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka
More than ever, today’s modern brands need a digital strategy that incorporates organic integrations, targeted environments and influencer activation. There’s so much content available everywhere we turn, it’s imperative that brands find a more meaningful and synergistic way to cut through ad clutter. The key here is strategic, organic integrations that will put the brand front and center, avoiding the disruption that accompanies most ad experiences. People are accustomed to blocking and skipping ads, so organic integrations into video content or advertorial propel the brand message to the forefront of the consumer psyche. When online social influencers, such as bloggers or entertainers, are included in the strategy, the challenges of positive sentiment, reach and consumer passion can also be circumvented easily and effectively.

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