It’s interesting that in our digital media age, with almost unlimited information at our fingertips on just about anything, brands still play such a large and important role in our lives. After all, brands are just a way to convey a complex chunk of information – the chunk containing hard, functional facts as well as softer, emotional elements.
And as Itamar Simonsen and author Emanual Rosen argue in their new book, Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information, there are better ways to get that information than reliance on brands. They purport “brands are less needed when consumers can assess product quality using better sources of information such as reviews from other users, expert opinion, or information from people they know on social media”.
But, the paradox is that the digital space is completely brand dominated. As authors Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen ask in a recent article: If brands don’t matter, then “why do so many people choose Google search over Bing when only experts can tell which has the most accurate results?” In fact, digital brands such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, and Samsung are in the top 10 of most rankings.
So, brands are not dying nor are they becoming less important. But communicating brand value to consumers is changing dramatically. The challenge for brands today is to find unique ways to tell their story because traditional marketing and advertising as a means of communicating that story is becoming less effective. As Skibsted and Hansen correctly suggest, “As information is more and more available and the importance of brands increases, the ability to tell a meaningful story through actions and products, not words, is the only way to win.”