Digital is no longer a channel. Digital is behavior. For consumers of every age digital is a normal fact of life. At Boston Digital, we refer to this phenomenon as the Impulse Generation. This moniker is not meant to imply that consumers are simply impulsive. Rather, it points to all consumers’ ability to act freely on impulses, without friction. And it cuts both ways as consumers are also constantly bombarded by outside impulses created by the changing winds of the world we live in. Marketers must keep pace, and act accordingly.
This multi-part blog series will explore how to build a comprehensive marketing strategy to meet the Impulse Generation by optimizing different parts of the marketing process including branding, personas, designing, activation, and analytics. Our journey to meet the Impulse Generation starts with the foundation of every company's marketing: the brand.
Branding for the Impulse: The Science & the Art
Brand remains the marketers most critical asset. But planning and deploying a brand that can span the Impulse Generation requires both old-fashioned discipline as well forward-thinking creativity in order to create presence and active growth.
The more things change, the more certain things stay the same.
The science: brand foundation
In today’s fast-paced, impulse-driven world, a clear brand foundation provides the critical center of gravity necessary to anchor myriad marketing efforts spread across a vast digital ecosystem.
To that end, the key foundational elements of brand still matter:
- Mission and vision
- Category and model
- Product / service architecture
- Positioning and competitive differentiation
- Attributes and personality
These core elements ought to add up to an irrefutable truth about who you are, for whom, and why people should care.
But brands cannot behave monolithically in the new digital normal.
The art: volume & tone
If defining brand foundation is the science of branding, the art of branding in an impulse-driven world is the deft deployment of marketing efforts that spark resonant connections while also capturing value so these connections can be leveraged in the future to inspire loyalty and advocacy, and spark additional connections, going forward.
Branding ought to fuel virtuous cycles of value: spark, capture, leverage.
To create these virtuous cycles, brands must be where their customers and prospects are and behave in ways that feel familiar in the micro moment, and consistent in the macro. Only with principled volume and tone control can a brand achieve tactical objectives in-market while continuously building brand at the “institutional” level.
Verbally speaking, this means creating a flexible messaging framework that supports different “ways in” to a brand experience (a rigid “elevator pitch” is hardly nuanced enough for the Impulse Generation). Particular prospecta might be intrigued by a certain aspect of a brand’s promise at the outset, but their perspective may very well change as they move along their journeys. Messaging can’t be static in an impulse-driven environment. It also can’t become wholly fragmented in the aggregate.
Visually speaking, it works much the same. Brands require principled and focused approaches to color, type, imagery, gesture, and composition. This is about much more than a style guide, it’s about creating a visual system of expression that can support marketing efforts across audiences and platforms while contributing to a mental image that’s greater—and more compelling—than a sum of parts.
It takes discipline to establish and honor a consistent, resonant through line. It takes creativity to understand where and how to pivot in order to act the part for a particular segment of prospects without undermining the brand.
Your brand must still have a solid core, but it must also have principled volume and tone control built in so that it can behave—visually and verbally—in a manner that’s responsive to the Impulse Generation.
It takes discipline to establish and stay true to the foundational core of a brand, it takes new ways of creative thinking to bring it to life in-market for the Impulse Generation.
Check out our next article “Winning the Digital Normal” series where we explore how to build analytics and reporting to meet the impulse generation.