Opinion: The present technology era is coming to an end, but branding fundamentals remain

Channels and platforms are a technicality and will change all the time, argues Raj Seth.

Raj Seth, consultant and founder of Ronin Communications, previously held senior roles at FleishmanHillard and Hill+Knowlton
Raj Seth, consultant and founder of Ronin Communications, previously held senior roles at FleishmanHillard and Hill+Knowlton

What we once thought were pie-in-the-sky ideas are becoming reality by the day. Tesla’s electric car recently broke the American consumer report rating by scoring 103 out of 100, flying drones will soon be as common as birds and start-ups are usurping tired multinational monoliths at every turn, while investment continues to gush into Silicon Valley, Beijing and Bangalore.

The current technology era, as we understand it, is coming to an end. The signposts are visible. Blogs are started and left unfinished, celebs are walking away from their social accounts, paying for news is almost history and everyone seems to have a case of always-on overload. A well-known social channel recently asked users what they thought its brand stood for. They have to ask?

The debate about millennials being an extra special generation gets ink by the bucketful. A friend believes they are fundamentally different from Gen X. I think they are the same. I too was up myself at that age. One of the more interesting changes is that narcissism has become acceptable. Instagram was built for it.

Here are a few things I find particularly annoying:

• The picture post that says "I’m in business class getting giggly on free champagne". Note: Those who pay from their own pocket to be at the sharp end don’t normally brag about it.

• Friends posting food pics. I guess it’s a form of catharsis: "I’ll feel better about gorging myself because so many friends liked it".

• The friend who’s figured how to post on all platforms at once. Every Apple device in my house ka-pings at the same time. And my cats go bonkers.

And what happened to brand building? I recently heard about a CMO and his agency creating a wonderful YouTube campaign based on really informative content. But it wasn’t branded, nor carried any kind of sign-off. It was a stealth marketing strategy. Make it really cool, but don’t tell anyone where it’s from. Shhh…

Branding fundamentals haven’t changed – loyalty, awareness, proprietary assets, perceived quality and so on. People remain the same too. Channels and platforms are a technicality and will change again soon anyway. The nuts and bolts of branding and stimulating sales by being unique still make a lot of sense.

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