Special Report

Branding in the Digital Age

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By Asif Tarafdar

Trends to watch out for in 2019

Every year, we see brands going out of their way to catch our imagination. To be completely honest, I often feel sorry for them. It’s not an easy undertaking, now more than ever, as we are constantly getting sidetracked by refreshing social media feeds. Interestingly, brands now have learned to use the very tool they were getting diverted by. The use of social media has grown exponentially by companies to make their mark on consumer’s consciousness. It has become very easy to connect with customers through social media. However, these small, mindless actions aren’t enough to cement a brand in a consumer’s mind for the long haul. It does little more than ticking a box. More often than not, their message gets ignored or worse marked as spam. Brands aspire to be more memorable because it gives them a better shot at creating lifetime customers. Therefore, they are constantly coming up with innovative ways to edge out their competitors and every year, we get to experience branding campaigns, never before seen. In Bangladesh, that competition is more intense than ever.

Companies operating in Bangladesh have a reputation of surprising us with their innovative branding campaigns. This time, that surprise was wrapped with nostalgia and national pride. The positive buzz around coke bottles with Bangla words printed on them was definitely a pleasant surprise. Coke started the campaign last February to revive Bangla words that were once widely used but now are in danger of falling out of favor. The campaign website received 100,000 visits and at the end, a total of more than 5000 words were submitted. Coca-Cola has used 21 Bangla words or phrases on their labels. The trend has been picked up by other brands as well in the form of branding communication, which used to be strictly carried out in one specific language. Now, brands are becoming bolder and mixing the two languages in communication with an increasingly casual demeanor. This is evident in the branding of UBER and PATHAO who have recently increased the use of Bangla in their communications. Even more conspicuous are the branding campaigns centered around nationalism. BKASH has recently partnered with the Bangladesh National Liberation War Museum tying its name with the restoration of old books on our independence. It was unlikely for a company that predominantly emphasizes on increasing user base, to engage in a campaign which encompasses an intrinsic value. Arguably, national identity is becoming more and more pivotal for branding in the country. The mode of communication, however, is indisputably digital.

Digitalization has amplified and is engulfing every aspect of branding in Bangladesh. We no longer live in the era of asymmetric information. It takes seconds to learn whether a company is reliable or running a racquet. Consumers are amorous toward authenticity. Digitization has facilitated the authentication of small as well as upcoming brands to consumers in the form of short videos and live sessions. Short videos which are generally not more than 10 seconds have been great for smaller brands. They have cross-platform adaptability which is more cost effective. Speaking of being effective, advanced technology has enabled companies to achieve higher efficiency in branding. Big data is taking that efficiency to a level previously unheard of.

Recently, digital branding has emerged as the most efficient form of marketing. It allows brands to focus on the target audience. With the help of big data, brands can now segment and differentiate their products more efficiently than ever before. Data analysis has enabled a more clear and accurate analysis of how it can interact with the target market and consumers. Brand marketing is now using circular data analysis; it involves customer shopping patterns, consumer behavior and preferences of product and service. The system processes important metrics from social media activities which helps it to understand consumer preferences for products and services. It helps them to design a more personalized consumer experience.

A more personalized approach to communication has become crucial for brands. It can build lasting relationships with consumers if they can listen to them and respond in real time. Brands like Amazon and Wal-Mart offer product suggestions based on advanced personalization. It also brings immersive interactions. New technology has made the digital screen a gateway to engage with the brand through dynamic audio and visual experiences. Chatbot and AI generated assistants create a real-time feedback loop with the consumers. It enables consumers to steer brands and effectively impact the product development process. International retail brands such as IKEA and Ralph Lauren have embraced immersive interactions by using AR to create digital trial rooms and personalized shopping experience.

An exciting year awaits us. Brands will pour every resource available in their arsenal to awe and ensnare us. To create a lasting impression in our psyche. The success of their endeavor will depend upon how well they can understand consumer behavior. However, a few trends in the industry appears to be inevitable. Quirky social influencers are going to be the most valuable assets for smaller brands to promote themselves. More and more startups are going to use social media influencers as their spokesperson to create a fan base. There is going to be a big shift in how brands use data. They have realized that customers drive brands not the other way around. Therefore, personal and usage data of customers is going to shape branding. Brands will depend on big data analysis to make sure their message is resonated across the consumer population. Big data analytics is changing the face of branding. It is helping marketers to have a wider understanding of developing better customer response and product engagement. It is key to brand management especially in this age of digital marketing.

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