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Brands in the digital age

Romain Vieillefosse

SVP—Director of Digital, Creative Content and Data Analysis

BCW France


Brands in the digital age


The emergence of digital technologies in our daily lives over the past decade has changed the way brands stay relevant, recognized, and stand out. When the retail economy was dominated by bricks-and-mortar and shelf-space wars, brands chased profile and visibility offline, in store and via ads. Now, however, the digital landscape has a much greater impact on a brand’s reputation, recognition and business, because of the ways consumers interact. Brands are using new ways to attract fame and fortune – focusing on interactive communication, personalization, and purpose. They are harnessing the power of recommendation, the value of service and the role of the brand as a platform for empowering communities. The ultimate goal remains that consumers to recognize and spontaneously think of a specific brand when searching for an associated product or service online. But they are using the specific traits of the digital space to do so.  

Here are five principles of brand-building in the digital age.

  • Be community-led: The success of a brand in the digital age relies on its ability to listen, and to understand the needs of its customers and meet them while providing the best experience. Exposing yourself by letting the community in on decisions made by the brand may sound risky to a company but is in fact the most effective way to provide products or services that people are really looking for.
  • Facilitate empowerment: Customers want to personalize their products and experiences, expecting brands to help them to do so, and giving them the power of choice. For examples of this, see the success of Nike ID, which allows consumers to customize their sneakers. People want products and services that fit their needs, lifestyle and beliefs; the easiest way to achieve this is to let them have a say.
  • Provide infinite and authentic content: Customers expect unlimited access to products or content, and are also looking for a personalized experience. They are looking for premium and original content, and live and authentic experiences. Spotify and Netflix not only give access to massively diverse libraries of content but also innovate the types of content that are added each day, and make sure this content reaches the right audience, depending on each individual’s use history and preferences.
  • Harness the power of recommendation: Infinite choice isn’t everything. Customers are also looking for products and experiences that their interests and needs. The filtering made possible by AI and algorithms allows for a personalized experience based on behavior and the resulting customization caters to these needs. So does the ability to make customers and influencers vocal about their experience, and share it with their community, contributing to the reputation of the brand and the visibility of the product through a credible and impactful voicing of opinion. The accuracy of the recommendation adds value to the vast amount of choice, and the power of the service.
  • Be purposeful: A long-lasting brand actively contributes to its ecosystem and makes it better. Customers expect brands to have a purpose, to be sustainable and to engage in building a better future. Digital technology has made it possible for people to comment, analyze and agree or disagree with brands’ commitments, speech and behavior. It has also made it possible to keep track and applaud—or point fingers if actions aren’t consistent with the brand and its supposed values.