Branding’s Foundational Concepts Are Being Rewritten On the Fly

Writing in Adweek, Bob Greenberg, chairman of R/GA in New York works out one of the more important topics of our advertising day. Namely, how in the world a brand can remain consistent in its messaging when it has to be everywhere at once, constantly on and open to dialogue.

First, brands cannot be created and managed in a top-down approach. Gone are the days when branding companies could create a brand identity accompanied by a dense, rarely read instruction manual on how to apply it across media. Brands are no longer static. Today they’re fluid, flexible and nonlinear.
Second, branding can no longer work as effectively on its own as it once did. In our Web 2.0 world, branding has converged with design and advertising. Not too long ago, each of these disciplines had a specific role, a distinct purpose. In some ways, each still does. Today, however, the disciplines have become so intertwined that they work best when working together.
The best digital branding happens when the process is completed from conception to execution by one agency. That agency can ensure the brand system is dimensional — working across more channels, executions and applications including animation, functionality and the little beeps you hear when you click on something.

Some key takeaways from this, and from my own migration experience to digital: Forget about what kind of agency you run, and hire the best designers you can. You’re going to need them. Second, agencies need people who can bridge the traditional approach–one often held tightly to in this ever-changing, sometimes frightening world–with the digital approach. Both have their own languages and frameworks, and both need to be fully understood by “the translators,” in order for full and consistent buy-in to be achieved.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.