Navigating the digital landscape hero
Navigating the digital landscape
How should brands communicate effectively in a digital word?

The explosion of digital capabilities has opened up a world of opportunities for brands and created many new platforms from which they can tell their stories. There has been exponential growth in the number of tools available for brands to reach people which means in practice digital content can be tailored by platform, by audience and by passion point. This offers brands the tantalizing promise of building consumer proximity, delivering four key benefits to marketers:

  • 1. People can be reached at almost every moment of the day to build brand recency

    2. More disruptive and interactive communication methods such as real time content are available to deliver creative cut through.

    3. Activations can be more in the moment, more relevant and more innovative

    4. Immediacy of measurement makes it an agile medium as campaigns can be more readily evolved and brands can demonstrate the short-term impact of their activations

But new possibilities bring with them a new set of challenges.

The ability to contextualize content and home in on very specific targets is a great way for brands to drive relevance. This often comes at the expense of reach which is the recommended strategy to build penetration. Studies by leading experts such as Byron Sharp [1] and Binet & Field [2] demonstrate that penetration is the most effective path to brand growth and therefore by creating plans that jeopardize reach, brands are compromising on their growth potential.

Contextualizing content can also lead to tactical communication and in doing so, to lose sight of the overarching brand truth. This can cause fragmented and superficial creative that does not contribute to long term brand building.


If digital content is to play a role in building successful brands it must first be seen by consumers via paid media and second evoke an emotional response from them. Digital can be a lower cost model than other mediums, making it more accessible for brands but that can come at the expense of quality, well-crafted creative. Brands need to consider both what they are communicating and how they are communicating across all their touchpoints. Binet & Field concluded that it is emotional campaigns that will deliver long term brand success [3] and that video is key to bringing these campaigns to life, both online and offline. [4]

Some of the distinctive features of digital can lead brands to have a short-term focus. Digital platforms offer a plethora of measurements which provide brands with an almost instantaneous gauge of their impact. However, the nature of this measurement provides several challenges to brands. Firstly, the measures available are looked at over a short timeframe and do not necessarily correlate with key business growth measures and are therefore arguably not meaningful metrics. Secondly, the ability to measure "something" quickly and easily and provide a measure of ROI satisfies marketers' need to demonstrate commercial accountability and can lead to over investment in short term digital activations. Work completed by Binet and Field recommends that to maximize brand growth there should be a 60:40 split between long term brand building activity and short-term activations. [5]

At Huxly we think that Marketers should consider digital as an integrated part of their brand plans and not as a stand-alone platform that they need to jump on automatically, irrespective of what their objectives are. It can blend beautifully with other mediums to elevate powerful brand stories but the principles of effectively driving brand growth should not be ignored in pursuit of embracing that which is new. All content and creative, regardless of where it is being communicated, should be anchored in a brand truth and be taken as an opportunity to craft campaigns with emotion at the heart. Because ultimately, brands need to harness the power of emotions to really inspire change.

We have developed some powerful ethnographic co-creation tools to help brands develop their brand truth and optimize their copy to deliver it. We also have tools that help brands craft their meaningful and motivating emotional benefits. Get in touch and we'll tell you all about it –

Sophie Allard, 27th March, 2019

[1] Source: Byron Sharp. How Brands Grow: What Marketer's Don't Know
[2] Source: Les Binet and Peter Field. Eff Week 2016, 'Marketing in the Digital Age', IPA
[3] Source: Les Binet and Peter Field. The Long and the Short of it: Balancing the short and long term effects of marketing
[4] Source: Les Binet and Peter Field. Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, IPA
[5] Source: Les Binet and Peter Field. Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, IPA