Brand strategy in the race to digital strategy
Dovetailing Brand Strategy with Digital Strategy
As consumer behavior shifts even more rapidly to online channels in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the race is on among health and wellness marketing teams to engage today’s connected consumers through digital strategy. But given the breakneck speed at which marketing teams are moving, is the critical foundation of brand strategy being pushed to the side in favor of digital strategy and tactics?
Navigating Unprecedented Change
COVID-19 has led many businesses across the health and wellness continuum who were not prepared for their consumer’s sudden migration to digital – from health systems and hospitals, physician and medical practices, consumer products companies to medical products and services – to back-burner traditional brand strategy work.
Instead, digital strategy and digital marketing have become the main topic of conversation for health and wellness marketing teams. In some cases, marketing team members may not be able to point to the strategy behind their actions, but shiny new things are nice to talk about. And they keep you “current” with peers. But key to growing a thriving brand-led business is the ability to effectively apply the digital tools that are most relevant to customers, your industry, and the unique growth challenges of the business – in ways that are most aligned with your brand strategy.
Brand Strategy First
A compelling brand story, clear brand positioning and supporting organization-wide messaging have always been important requisites for building a high-valued business. Because behind every great business is a great brand. But particularly in these unprecedented times, when you need to be laser-sharp to cut through the noise, apprehension and distraction, marketing that leads with random digital tactics is a waste of time and precious resources. It might buy you some time and short-term hits, but
The danger marketing leaders must avoid is becoming what MIT and Capgemini refer to in their Digital Transformation Report as “digital fashionistas” in their zeal to participate in important digital trends and their fear of being left behind if they don’t act immediately. The applications for digital customer interaction are so broad and so diverse that novices risk letting their enthusiasm for the latest data, the most talked-about digital trends, and the most heavily boosted new technologies drive their investment decisions.
When Digital Marketing Succeeds
Digital marketing succeeds when it puts people first—and last. Everything begins and ends with understanding customers’ needs, their lifestyle, their values, what’s important to them and how you map against them; and then thinking about competitors, and where do the opportunities exist to surpass them. As an example, think about social media. How many marketing teams have really isolated the main “strategic” driver for their content and postings? Are they keeping up with the latest trends, rather than being driven by tangible evidence of business results.
Consider that all competitors can deploy the same digital marketing tactics of building online engagement, streamlining patient communications, deploying telehealth solutions, transacting digitally, etc. Given the above, the only way for your voice to cut through is for your organization brand idea to sit on top of these functional and increasingly expected benefits – so you deliver emotional needs that consumers love so much that it not only pulls them towards you but they feel compelled to tell others.
Melding Brand Strategy and Digital Strategy
Step one is creating the necessary foundation of a compelling and distinguishing brand story, positioning and messaging matrix (to ensure consistency across audiences and channels). You can then build a differentiating digital strategy that:
- delivers the easiest on-brand experience possible
- relates in as open and honest (transparent) fashion as possible, as consumers desperately seek authenticity (and trust) from the company’s they do business with
- particularly important today amidst all that’s going on in society, acts with empathy; understanding and putting customer needs and preferences first, letting them know that the organization cares
Leading With A Clear Brand Idea
While new digital marketing channels open up exciting and potentially profitable ways for companies to engage with their more connected consumers, the risk of so much time, effort and energy being exerted on digital channel selection and execution is that the fundamentals of brand strategy are being neglected. But a clear brand idea is more important than ever today, to help orchestrate the growing number of touch points and number of agencies delivering a brand over multiple channels. At the same time, this is also important given the broader role a brand plays in people’s lives and society; and reflects their growing desire among consumers to learn more about the companies behind the brands they buy.
Since 1999, Trajectory has worked across the healthcare and wellness continuum – helping brands rise above the noise by crafting brand purpose and story, and then aligning culture, strategy, design, communication and digital experience – so everything comes together to connect and deliver value for a brand and its audience. Reach out for a conversation.