The bulk of our work at MediaSmiths revolves around delivering exceptional value for clients across paid campaigns, but we also regularly make time to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. While tactics and execution are key day-to-day, it’s strategy that drives outstanding results over the longer term. One wider strategic question that’s been exercising our little grey cells over the last while has been: What next for branding? And one of the clearest thinkers we’ve found tackling that question in depth is Professor Scott Galloway of the New York University Stern School of Business.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at one of Professor Galloway’s more challenging assertions around branding and consider the practical implications for firms looking to cement profitable mindshare in an increasingly tough market.
Let’s start with some brief details about the man himself.
A Little Background on Professor Galloway
In stark contrast to many academics who tackle Marketing as a subject, Prof Galloway has actually walked the talk. In addition to having successfully founded and exited several firms, he’s also served on the board of companies as diverse as the The New York Times and Eddie Bauer.
Galloways’s current outfit L2 is one of the world’s leading business intelligence firms servicing prestige brands (and a reliable source of free, top-tier marketing insight). He’s also recently published The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, one of the sharpest takes on the digital world we live in and something of a survival manual for twenty-first century business.
The Threats Facing Traditional Branding
As outlined in The Four (and his regular Winners & Losers online series), Galloway’s central idea is a challenging one: the rise of four global digital giants, and a slew of new technologies such as voice and machine learning, spell potentially very bad news indeed for traditional brands of all sizes.
On the market level, we have Amazon obviously winning the global war for customers while deliberately forcing brands to radically lower their margins. The introduction of voice technology such as Alexa, meanwhile, promises to commodify entire classes of purchases and annihilate existing brand advantage.
On the channel side of the equation, Google and Facebook (together with associated properties such as Instagram) are increasingly the only game in town when it comes to reliably reaching consumers’ hearts, minds, and wallets. They also offer none of the certainty or exclusivity associated with traditional media channels such as radio, television, or print. Brands are now forced to compete in a substantially more fluid and unpredictable environment as a result.
What Firms Need to Take on Board
At this point, readers may be slightly alarmed and asking themselves, what does this sea-change mean for my business? Let’s look at some key takeaways:
- The easy days of brand-driven growth are behind us.
- Branding as a discipline isn’t disappearing, but its nature is transforming.
- Firms and agencies are going to have to work substantially harder to live up to the promises of their own brands.
- The combined ecosystem of “The Four” is increasingly the sea we all swim in. Channel and campaign strategy has to embrace that.
- There will be winners and losers in this new branding environment.
With these sweeping changes already very much underway, the importance of having a truly clued-in, agile media partner has never been more crucial when it comes to building and protecting your brand.
If you’re looking for a partner who can help you maximise opportunity across both traditional media and digital, our expert team are ready to take the call. We’ve got a complete understanding of the wider media landscape across Australia and New Zealand, and can help you craft a perfectly balanced strategy that delivers the best from all available channels. Get in touch today to start mapping out options!