For decades, brand building has been a mixed blessing for both companies and marketers. Branding is a mature concept that evolved over the past few years because of the rapid growth in the use of the Internet, particularly social media. Companies like Procter & Gamble have been the precursors of building strong brands by using mass media. The market today is highly competitive with new products, services, and brands that appear online. In such a turbulent marketplace, traditional brands try to protect their reputation and maintain their lead over competitors. Due to the barrage of mass media, individuals are overwhelmed with millions of messages or advertisements; this in turn leads to products losing their identity and becoming nearly invisible in the marketplace.
Marketing is changing and has reached the point where companies can no longer market directly to the masses. The traditional way of building a brand by using mass media is obsolete and has nothing to do with the emergence of new ways of doing it today. Traditional mass media is no longer communicating to consumers’ subconscious. That is why brands investigate alternative ways to build stronger and more humane brands. One way to do this is through storytelling for business where brands pick selected stories either about their founders or their customers and put together stories to show their human side.
This complicated and lengthy process is both a science and an art. There are no good recipes to follow, but there are feelings to develop. With the rise of digital media, alternative approaches are coming out. This section aims to explain the evolution of the concept of branding mainly to identify the new, “prototype” approaches that pioneers in marketing are putting into practice today.
The purpose of branding is to permit companies to be identified and to differentiate their products or services from others. Brands aim for recognition and recall. The Saatchi & Saatchi CEO worldwide and chairman from 1997 until 2016, Kevin Roberts, says, “the race to brand led to commodification—the erosion of distinctions, rapid imitation of innovation, higher standards of product performance and—accelerated by technology—a final transfer of power to consumers” (Manafu 2004). Indeed, it helps the customer to choose when a purchase decision is involved. Identification, differentiation, and recognition are the keywords of strong brands. As branding is turning into a complicated business concept, successful brands aim strategically to stimulate customers’ real feelings.
Why are people willing to pay more to buy Christian Dior? Are Christian Dior dresses more than a regular product? A brand is a set of associations and expectations for a company’s products or services; in other words, it is an implicit promise of what the buyer can expect and what meaning it has in a customer’s life. As a consequence, branding is not a combination of logos, slogan, or advertising. It is an ensemble of implicit messages that cultivate a deeper level of connection with the customer. Consequently, the established brand–customer relationship will influence humans to prefer and choose a specific group of products or services over others.
Brand loyalty is what marketers have been trying to achieve for years with mass advertising. They have created an exceptional connection with the masses via TV commercials, telling stories to garner mass attention. The traditional marketing model used mass media to reach a broad audience, which has been tested successfully and widely discussed among professionals. However, this model is considered old-fashioned and, therefore, no longer satisfactory, as it makes no emotional bonds with the target group.