Search engine giant, Google has dominated newspapers around the world this week with it’s striking revelation that it has created a new parent holding company – Alphabet. As a well established brand, Google will continue to use it’s world renowned name for it’s search and other search related subsidiaries. Speculators suggest the reasoning behind this sudden restructuring is to minimise risk to each individual company that will housed under the Alphabet umbrella. For many years the worlds most famous search engine has been investing in new ventures and R&D, drone development, medical care and automated car transport.

So why is all this relevant to brand management, marketing and business development? CEO and co-founder Larry page, has made a bold move in choosing an unusual name, and indeed distinct domain name for the new parent company – This curious choice of domain extension .xyz has left many confused and bewildered. Following convention, surely would have been a safer, more preferred choice. New theories are emerging on this bizarre and mysterious decision.

Speculators suggest Google is revolutionising the nature of branding. Stepping away from traditional modes of in-your-face branding where logos, trademarks and all associated brand imagery would be plastered over goods, unmissable to the eye, new trends amongst some of the worlds leading brands suggest a change in previous practice. A paper recently released, ‘The Rise of Inconspicuous Consumption’ by professors Belk, Eckhardt and Wilson illustrates a stark change in the relationship between consumer and branded products. In contrast to the blatant branding of the 1980’s and 1990’s where consumers wanted to overtly show-off high end luxury goods as a symbol of status and accomplishment, new trends have been developing in todays market.

Emerging consumer trends suggest a preference for unobtrusively and subtly marked products. Luxury brands are aware of this behavioural change in todays consumer. Essentially, less is more. Apple’s iconic logo is instantly recognisable even without it’s name. It’s products are characterised by simplicity and sharpness of design. Tiffany has stripped it’s brand right down to a simple “T”.

Google are somewhat contributing to this trend. They could choose any number of new gTLD’s .global, .tech, .business or alternatively purchased from BMW. It’s not as if capital is lacking. Instead they have opted for a different and somewhat vague, understated extension. Since the news exploded a few days ago, the .xyz registry has seen an exponential rise in domain registrations. Fears are spreading that Alphabet’s strategic move may encourage and increase in cyber-squatting and phishing.

Whatever the outcome of this unexpected branding endeavour, the move marks a significant step away from the dominance of the days. The jury is out on the success of the new gTLD rollout initiated by ICANN since the end of 2013. Nonetheless, Google’s bold move somewhat endorses the positive potentiality of new gTLD’s in future brand management, marketing and business development.

dotNice – experts in digital brand protection

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Social media guru and specialist Cian Corbett spoke to us and provided some enlightening insights on the power and capabilities inherent in social. Cian answered the five questions marketing managers are afraid to ask…

1. Is social media marketing better for B2C or B2B enterprises?

‘Theres a common misconception that social media is only for B2C just because theres so many businesses doing it and seeing great results. On a lesser known scale enterprises that harness social media in B2B relations are in fact also reaping the rewards. I think this idea and misconception stems from the fact that the poster boy of social media is Facebook which essentially is a consumer led platform.’

‘Social media will work really well if objectives are clearly laid out and defined. Marketing managers need to ask themselves what is the driving force behind integrating social media in your business operations. Is the focus on creating brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, generating leads and so forth. That being said social media has the ability achieve all these deliverables for both B2C and B2B enterprises.’ 

2. In terms of brand management, what advice would you give to brand managers seeking to take control of their brand online through social media marketing?

‘When I was lecturing in NUI Maynooth there was an expression- You are who google says you are. That expression really sums up the age of the internet. Regardless of how nice you are, how good you are etc… if it’s not written down somewhere on the internet, it doesn’t exist. Companies need to monitor public perception online through setting up social listening tools. It is essential to closely listen as to what is being said online about your given product, service or business. Marketing managers also need to ask themselves what controls have they in place to monitor online conversations pertaining to their brand.’

‘Setting up of a responsive structure is of crucial importance. Three simple steps marketers can implement include:
1. Do a web crawl
2. Set up google alert under your companies name
3. Enforce social listening tools

3. What would you say to brand managers wary of incorporating social media into their marketing strategy?

‘Social media doesn’t create negative sentiment, it uncovers it. Marketers need to view it as an enlightening analytics tool. It should be utilised as a component of ongoing marketing relations. Listening online adds to your brand awareness and allows you to keep up to date in real time about online communities perception of your brand.’

4. What type of social media converts best?

‘This Depends on your objectives. Understanding your whole digital marketing ecosystem and what role social media will play within that. Marketers find it hard to quantify the inherent value in social. In order to quantify its contribution to sales or ROI ask yourself what role it will play:
– Building brand awareness
– Customer Engagement
– Lead generation
– Data capture
– Growing website traffic

5. What are some common social media marketing mistakes businesses can make?

‘A recurring problem that constantly re-emerges is the failure to create content specific for social. Taking the time to develop content specific for social will ultimately affect your bottomline positively. Furthermore, your social community will respond well to this customer-centric approach.’

‘Another common mistake made by social media marketers is failing to keep copy short. The fast paced nature of the digitised world has left online audiences with an ever decreasing short attention span. For brands to grab attention, copy editors must resist writing long in-depth articles. Erik Qualman, the world renowned keynote speaker on social media famously commented that the “6 second Vine is the new 30 second advertisement”.’

‘Short content should be balanced with sharp and eye catching images.
As the old adage goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. Injecting your marketing material with sharp imagery will greatly increase the likelihood of online audiences stopping to read your content.’

6. Finally, what are some general tips for social media success?

‘I would suggest the following key pieces of advice’
View social as an opportunity. Its a fantastic new gateway to expand your global reach, foster greater relationships with your customer base and
Inject personality into your brand through sharp and short content.
Allocate time to social media. Understand your key objectives and create content relevant to this. Create a weekly content calender to ensure your .
Use analytics tool – to create a picture of measurable results. Ensure your speaking to your key demographic and deliver content to reflect this.’

Cian Corbett is the Client Director with Radical, specialists in devising social media strategies. Cian is an experienced social media lecturer and trainer having designed and delivered Social Media courses for NUI Maynooth, Olas, Sureskills and Digital Marketing Institute.

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Top tips from Laurent Muzzellec, Director of Digital Marketing MSc – Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School

The Evolution of Marketing Strategy

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in recent years. Marketing practice must change in line with such striking transformations in consumer behaviour. We spoke with Laurent Muzzellec, Director of the Digital Marketing programme at Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School who explained how marketing strategy, principles and best practice have evolved over the past number of years. Originally Proctor and Gambles traditional marketing methodology was once the accepted framework that many organisations emulated around the globe.

‘This old model focused on the consumer’s first moment of truth, that is when people first come in contact with your product or brand through a tv/radio/ print advertisement. This then would lead to the consumers second moment of truth which was wholly experiential. This is the point at which the customer would experience your product or service. Based on this model, traditional marketing relied heavily on brand awareness and association.’

Laurent continues to explain how digitisation completely revolutionised traditional marketing models.

‘It was Google who first identified a key area in consumer behaviour that traditional marketing frameworks failed to distinguish – the “Zero moment of Truth” or the “Search”. They identified an untapped stage in brand engagement. Consumer need was followed by search which was followed by online purchasing which was subsequently was followed by the consumers experience of the product.’

With the explosion of Social media caused further changes came along.

‘Social media has allowed for a further stage to be added to the consumer experience allowing customers the ability to share their experience with a given product, service or brand. Essentially one persons experience with a product or brand becomes or influences others. Or to put it another way, one persons experience becomes anothers zero moment of truth.’

Marketers understand the inherent power of word of mouth. A great example of an organisation that fosters s are a multinational that excellent on sharing communities -review platform, comment sharing.

The Common Digital Marketing Mistakes Businesses Can Make

Laurent advocates that marketeers and CMO’s need to be aware of the social/experiential nature of consumers’ relationship with social media and how it can affect their relationship with your brand.

‘Ask yourself – where do you want to intervene to affect and influence the consumer journey. You need to know your customers digital journey. For instance if you discover that the greatest success you have (in converting prospective customers to actual customers) is at the search stage or zero moment of Truth, then invest in adwords. If your not of the first page of google you are not anywhere. Invest in SEO.’

To give another example, Laurent strongly recommends developing new sharing platforms to enhance your customers experience.

‘Ask yourself – if your business has particularly strong customer satisfaction rates? If this is the case, consider implementing sharing platforms. Be open to facilitating your customers ability to share their positive experience with your brand/product. Mobile has revolutionised this as all these moments are happening simultaneously.’
‘We search,share, experience and buy all at the same time.’

Sustainably Create Content and with ROI in Mind – ‘Thinking Outside the Box Philosophy’

All the metrics available online facilitate the decision making process of a brand manager. Energy and focus should be allocated to proven methodologies like AB testing. This is traditionally how ROI can be measured. Laurent recommends that a sizeable portion of budgets must be allocated to untested, creative campaigns.

‘Sometimes you have to Forget about ROI and adopt a ‘Lets try something new and see if it works’ approach. Take risks and try something innovative and unprecedented.’

Coca- cola have been spearheading this new philosophy with their new content marketing strategy – Content 2020 which marks a monumental shift from traditional marketing practise. Their outlook is experimental. This global brand understand that excellent content is the most vital currency when it comes to brand engagement. Their key focus is to foster and enhance the personal relationship and association a consumer has with a brand.

‘Brands need to cultivate feeling of connectedness to the extent that consumers want to share.’

Reaching Your Objectives

It goes without saying that the most successful marketing campaigns are those that reach their objectives. Laurent advises on the recipe for marketing success lies in ‘Maintaining focus and clarity as to what your campaign objectives are’. He elaborates on Cadbury’s humorous and memorable video with Eamon Dunphy, and John Giles. Why was this video such a success? What contributed to the adverts enormous global reach on youtube.

Laurent attributes the advertisements great success to cadbury’s ability create great synergy between the online and the offline.

‘Consumers don’t see the world as online or offline. They don’t consider what type of device they are using -tablet, mobile or PC or whether its downloaded or streamed. However, these are key questions that marketing departments have to constantly consider. Marketers must think like their customer and create user friendly or customer centric platforms where content can be shared and easily disseminated. Ease of sharing and quality of content are key components of any successful digital marketing campaign.’


Rebranding – Do’s and Don’ts

Brand equity is developed up over long term sustained investment in advertising that eventually will transpire to have positive brand association in the mind of your consumer or potential customers. Laurent imparts a few words of warning to brand managers considering a total overhaul of their existing branding.

‘Of course I would advocate revamping or refreshing brand logos on an ongoing basis to ensure your brand doesn’t fade out or becoming obsolete and dated . If you are considering dramatic rebranding, essentially what you are doing is taking all the stuff you’ve built over the years and throwing it away. I would advise only to do that if there is a lot of negative equity related to your brand. I would caution against too radical measures being taken. It’s an ongoing process. Don’t start from scratch if it’s not entirely necessary’

The Transformation of the Traditional Marketing Campaign

Laurent has strong objections to the term ‘campaign’. To him it suggests a beginning and an end. The digital age has rendered this traditional marketing practice obsolete.
‘With the explosion of social media and digital technology, marketing practice should have no beginning or end. It is an ongoing process. Brand managers need to stop thinking in terms of finite campaigns or campaign timelines.’

Digital marketing strategy has to be seen as cyclical in nature and should focus on growing customer engagement. ‘Jumping from one campaign to another with no continuity or generating lots of noise and social interaction only to suddenly end what you’ve started makes no sense.’

Laurent Muzzellec, Director of the Masters programme of Digital Marketing in Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. Laurent also has lectured in DCU, UCD and also worked as a Marketing Consultant for Volkswagen. He’s also a frequent contributor to many international marketing journals. We’re delighted to have Laurent here to discuss many topics in digital marketing best practice and brand management.

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