Modern Branding: What’s In A Name?

modern branding

By Brooke B. Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I find myself wondering if marketers need to be thinking about modern branding. Things just aren’t what they were. Marketing is in trouble.

As Mark Schaefer points out in his latest book, The Marketing Rebellion, loyalty is a myth.

People are more divided and polarized than ever. Look at Nike.

How do marketers prepare for that?

What Was

I did not grow up wealthy. We’re weren’t “poor” by definition, but I didn’t get to wear all the fashionable, more expensive brands. We bought my clothes from Palais-Royal or 5-7-9.

In high school, Calvin Klien and Tommy Hilfiger were all the rage. The kids with a little more in the bank wore these shirts to school every day.

The halls were filled “CALVIN” or “TOMMY.” And remember CK ONE, the unisex perfume?! Everyone was wearing that, too.

Except for me, that is.

I remember eyeing these brand names with such envy. But looking back now they’re just … names. They’re not even “big” names anymore.

Looking around high-school hallways now, I doubt you’d see a barrage of “CALVIN” or “TOMMY” shirts.

Back then, we wore these names without any sort of storytelling or the power of social media connection.

The hollowness of our loyalty was just in being recognized as cool, or rich, or popular.

I’m sure kids still do this to some extent today. But I also see the revolution coming.

What Is

Modern branding is more about a one-to-one connection.

In Sprout Social’s recent, Brands Get Real report, they revealed

  • More than three-quarters of consumers (76%) say they would buy from a brand they feel connected to over a competitor
  • 57% say they are more likely to increase how much they spend with a brand when they feel connected to a brand

On the other hand, when consumers don’t feel connected to a brand …

  • 70% are less likely to shop there over a competitor
  • And almost two thirds (61%) will spend less with that business

modern branding

Out of curiosity, I went to take a look at CK ONE … just to see if it’s still around.

It is! But man, has it changed to reflect a more modern branding stance.

Just look at this copy taken from the CK ONE website.

Today, CK ONE still speaks of revolution, and still syncs fundamentally to the ethos of the era in which we live. Bold and unapologetic, eschewing all limits and limitations, CK ONE is for everyone – a unifying element, bringing a group of diverse personalities, spirits and forces together as one.

I can promise you that was not part of the brand statement back in 1995. And I can almost promise you that theme is not why all of my friends smelled the same.

When it comes to modern branding, however, you can literally see the statement above hitting all of the points mentioned in the Sprout study.

What’s Coming (For Modern Branding)?

Traditional branding is not going extinct. You still need to think about things like

  • Your brand message & story
  • The brand’s vision, mission, and values
  • Your brand’s personality

You need brand guidelines spelling out how to go about implementing those items when you go to market.

But now, with technology zooming past us in the fast line, marketers have to think about what’s coming. Where is modern branding going? And therefore, where should you be?

A New World

Modern branding is saying, “Alexa, connect me with [BRAND NAME].” Voice search and smart speakers mean customers are experiencing your brand experience in their OWN HOME.

Then, there are some who say websites will be obsolete in a few short years; we’ll access the web through something like Google Glass … virtual reality glasses or headsets. Augmented and virtual reality is expected to be a $108 billion industry by 2021. This is an entirely new way of consuming media and “getting into bed” with a brand.

Modern branding means possibly building fully-immersible worlds for your customers to use as their playground.

Sure, we’re far from this being “what is” but we certainly don’t have it as easy as a name on a shirt and people wearing it just because.

So when you answer the question, “what’s in a name”, it’s no longer just a name. A name must include a unique and compelling story that puts your customer first.

It’s knowing that your customers don’t trust you or your advertising, but they trust each other. It’s getting them to create part of your story.

Modern branding is just beginning to tell us what it is and where it is going. Are you listening? Are you ready?

What has you the most excited/concerned about where modern branding is going? Let me know in the comments section below!


Brooke B. Sellas is the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media, an award-winning done-for-you social media management and advertising agency. In 2018, she was named a Top 25 Brand Builder & Woman Entrepreneur in New Jersey. She’s also a blossoming blogger and a purveyor of psychographics. Brooke’s marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter!

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