Brand reputation taking CenterStage

I am a product of 20 years of mainline advertising consultancy experience. However, in the last 3-4 odd years especially, I felt the pressing need to proactively unlearn and formally reskill to keep up with the changing landscape. More often than not, I was met with resistance within the ad consultancies I worked at when I put forward new world strategies, even though the clients express the need for thinking in that direction.

This is the reason why 2 years ago, I decided on independent consultancy. This was the only way available to me, to keep my practice relevant. We have been saying ‘360 degree’ for at least a decade now, but true integration is something only dreams are made of. This is not due to a lack of willingness to integrate. It seems to be more because each communication vertical operates as a separate profit. In this scenario, we struggle to let go of the baggage of treating ad films as the only mainline communication while everything else was relegated to being below the line (BTL).

But this doesn’t stop the marketplace from continuously turning on its head. Today brand stories are built not through ad films but through content strategies. Content strategies effectively create an omnipresent effect for brands, making them accessible quicker, easier and on the go. The touch points for ads have become the point of purchase. This radically changes the purchase journey. And calls for a radical shift in how we view branding and communication strategies.

It is traditional advertising and marketing’s own doing that has caused the high levels of distrust in ads. Now with the transfer of power into their own hands, customers no longer need to worry about ads pulling the wool over their eyes. They have Google, social media communities, podcasts, blogs and YouTube. Customers seek out avenues where brands seem to front load honesty of intention and actual value.

Classic ads are indeed turning into BTL with the sole role of driving awareness. For everything else from brand image building, forging meaningful consumer connections, creating an advantage of competition, changing perceptions to actual sales, businesses reap returns from effective content strategies and digital marketing strategies. There is a shift in ask from ads to content that is not restricted by duration and format limitations, something people yet to shed off their ad-like thinking struggle with.

Brand preference is no longer influenced by ads alone, it is by the vibe the brand gives out even in the news people hear about the brand – as employers, as guardians of the environment and as creators of value to customers. In the theatre of marketing and brand building, the role ads play is no longer in the main lead. To drive sales, digital marketing and social media strategies play the lead role. To drive brand likeability, affinity and preference, brand reputation building is being pushed into the spotlight.

Today, customers are co-writing brand stories along with the brand custodians. Through their hashtags, reels, stories and reviews, they are actively engaging with brands. This gives brands the chance to strategise ways to make people feel like a part of the brand story and thereby feel a sense of ownership and affinity for it.  A good example is Lego getting suggestions from its fan communities, getting them to vote and then releasing sets with the most fan votes. This along with several other initiatives builds the brand’s reputation as being enablers for Lego builders.

For all that ads can do for the brand, ads have always been and still remain an interruption and yet they have a role to play, no doubt. In the new world order, however, brands have avenues to connect the customers when they themselves seek information, with the readiness to make a decision. In this world, ads are useful, but content strategies to build brand reputation become the main protagonist.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Pooja Nair
Pooja Nair has over 20 years of experience as a branding consultant across leading global Ad consultancies. Pooja is also known to be an ex theater performer, actress and model. Since September, 2022, she has focussed completely on her passion for the changing face of business, brand-building and reputation.

Be the first to comment on "Brand reputation taking CenterStage"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.