The concept of Branding has radically changed with the rapid changes of technology and consumer behaviour. Although the shift in the branding concept creates new opportunities but also increase the challenges and complexities for business organisations.
It is difficult than ever to secure position in the market and succeed as a brand. There is a wide range of disagreement among the experts regarding the concept of Brand. Different concepts of brand reflect different standpoints over time based on the practices and demand of contemporary society. In the modern age of technology, the concept of brand has significantly differed compared to the traditional concept of Branding.
Traditionally, Brand was simply viewed as a name, logo, design, symbol, image to identify products from its competitors (Jung 1964, Aaker, 1991). The conventional scholars believe that Branding is creating a position in the mind of the consumers, adding value to a product and differentiate product from other products.
These traditional views is mostly communication driven, ignoring the emotional aspect of consumers and paid little attention on brand loyalty to the customers. Therefore, the early views of branding were mainly on product oriented and characterised with limited scope and applicability (Trout and Ries 1981, Keller 1998, Levy 1999, Kappferer 2012).
On the other hand, the term emotions, passion, love, icons, legend, aspiration of consumers, are the main considerations of modern concept of branding and have moved practitioners and academics attention from products oriented branding to consumers’ response. Improvement in the technology and the wider use of internet has radically changed the way of communication and the concept of Branding. For instance, the competition of the virtual brands like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo with well-established brands Coca Cole, Pepsi, and Toyota shows the changing phenomenon of branding concept (BRANDZ 2013).
In the similar vein, the rapid expansion of digital media like social networks (Facebook, Twitter) smart phone apps, online forum and Blogs has changed the fundamental concept of branding by empowering consumers to interact with other consumers and brands. The consumers in the digital era are enjoying an extensive opportunity to create, share and discuss their views with each other to guide themselves for selecting appropriate products or brands (Christodoulides 2009, Henning-Thurau et al. 2010, Frampton 2012).
This views are extended by Juliet Stott (2013), director of White Horse Digital and Roisin Donnelly (2013), the corporate marketing director and head of marketing of Procter & Gamble. According to their views, branding is no longer a top-down (Stott 2013) relationship rather a two way communication between customer and the brand (Donnelly 2013) which was impossible by conventional billboard or TV ad.
Hence, it is evident that, branding is no more confined with product differentiation rather deals with customer’s rights, emotion, reliability and feedbacks to fulfil the desire of consumers and create strong brand position in the modern era.
The internet and e-technologies abolish the favourable position of asymmetry information of managers as they become a host rather than a custodian of the brand (Erdem and Swait 1998) in the digital landscape. The present scope of branding is more about fitting in rather than control and domination. Thus, in the digital age the brand Managers have monitored the feedback of consumers and integrated consumers’ perspectives to better tune to the consumer needs.
The Mind cuckoo approach where the brand managers desire to control everything about their brand and consumers are considered as passive receivers of brand value has no place in the web 2.0 (Christodoulides 2009, Henning-Thurau et al., 2010). The digital environment provides a platform for the brand managers to engage and interact with customer in real time and cost effective manner. Consequently, requires companies to be authentic, transparent, and honest to their customers (Jones, et al. 2009, Fournier and Avery 2011).
Although Branding in the post-internet era with blogs, Facebook and other social media are adding new dimension to the concept of branding, also causes a number of challenges for brand managers. The loss of value is so extensive as the customers even might interfere with the brand’s value and lead to loss of control of brand managers on stakeholders referred brand hijacking (Christodoulides 2009,Cova and Pace 2006, cited in Iglesias, et al. 2011) sometimes require rethought and revised of classical brand theories (Christodoulides 2009, Iglesias, et al. 2011).
The digital concept of branding has been critisized by saying that the wider use of internet requires building new tools, strategies and a change from a hierarchical structure to a distributional structure, contemporizing brands with software and interactive technology (Magrath (1997, Fouts 2010, Florek 2011). social media is the most important brand channel but every brands need not to have presence in every media, the choice should be driven by the consumers and is to present the right message in the right place and time ( Roisin 2013).
Thus, it could be concluded that the advancement of technology has broaden the scope and opportunity of branding as well as creates complexity for the organizations as it sometimes require redesign of culture and structure to maintain their brand image.