How does branding fit into digital transformation?

Digital transformation has been a hot topic in recent years. Since the mid-90s internet boom, businesses and brands have been adapting to a changing digital world - and that transformation shows no signs of slowing down.

How does branding fit into digital transformation, read our blog
Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog
Giles Taylor, May 31, 2024

As new technologies and platforms emerge, and new demographics bring their own opinions and attitudes to how they consume and interact with organisations. And brands must adapt or face extinction. Technology changes at such a rapid rate that it can be hard to keep up. But keeping your branding aligned with technological advances is crucial. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of branding as part of a digital transformation strategy, as well as provide some digital transformation examples.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation covers changing or updating an entire company’s operations, assets and values using digital technologies. This can include internal systems, marketing collateral and customer touch points.

These Elements of a digital transformation strategy include:

  • Adopting & updating company-wide digital technologies: This involves identifying and assessing the digital needs of an organisation moving forward, and adopting various digital tools that help you meet your business goals. This can be everything from internal communication and collaboration tools like Slack, Google Workspace or MS Teams, CRMs such as Salesforce or HubSpot, digital marketing platforms such as Hootsuite or Semrush, or website platforms such as WordPress, Magento or Shopify.
  • Customer focus: Every digital transformation strategy has to have the customer at its heart. The customer is vital to any organisation and any decision made regarding digital assets or technology has to be driven by their ever-changing needs and expectations. This can include adopting chat functionality for customer service, embracing new digital marketing channels or offering new ways for users to convert. Ultimately, if a proposed change isn’t going to improve customer experience somewhere along the line, then it must be evaluated as to whether it’s necessary.
  • Shifting corporate culture: Any digital transformation framework needs to factor in changing an organisation’s culture, values and the attitudes of its staff. If digital assets, branding and processes are changed, but if those responsible for the running of the company fail to adapt, any digital transformation strategy will likely fail.
  • Iterative improvement: One of the final elements of digital transformation is evolution and continuous improvement. Although a digital transformation project may have a defined scope, you can’t simply kick back and relax once it’s done. Technologies, processes and customers will continue to change, and experimenting with new approaches and adapting to the landscape will allow organisations to stay on top.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

This Darwin quote rings true and can be applied to both branding and digital transformation. You need to be constantly evolving and adapting. 

Digital Transformation & Branding

So where does branding come into this? Well, if an organisation is going to devote considerable time, effort and budget into a digital transformation, why would they not consider their branding at the same time?

In 2024, this means reviewing your brand identity and whether this fits with your new approach. Customers will need to be made aware of the changes you’ve made to ensure that their experience isn’t jarring, and to allow them to embrace the latest version of your organisation. Effectively communicating and broadcasting your new values will help them buy-in and join you on the ride.

In reality, this means reviewing and updating your brand assets and customer touchpoints such as your logo, website, social channels and potentially your brand values. In a saturated marketplace, differentiation is key. A 2023 survey by Eventbrite found that 78% of millennials prefer experiences over products, and 80% want to feel more connected to their communities and the rest of the world by creating lifelong experiences. Providing your customers with the means to do this will be key to long-term success.

Let’s explore some examples of how brands adapt, firstly by looking at IT behemoth, IBM. As a technology company whose customers and advocates expect innovation and cutting-edge development, it would be bizarre if they decided to stick to their original logo:

Their current logo speaks to the corporate customer that they are courting. It’s sleek, serious and modern, values that are reflected in their clients.

In a similar vein, compare and contrast Google’s original logo with their current iteration below. While the old logo carries immense amounts of nostalgia and 90s kitsch and links to the company that was founded in a garage, it’s hardly suitable for the leading global tech corporation that Google has become.

However, we discuss the need for experiences and sometimes that means maintaining your history, allowing customers to become part of something that goes back generations. Step forward, Levi’s. As we can see below the logo has gone through multiple iterations that reflect Levi’s journey from utilitarian workwear to a global fashion brand.

However, there’s a common thread (pun intended) with the labelling on the back of their jeans.

This patch allows the wearer to be part of something bigger, part of an American cultural institution, and share their values of ruggedness, rebellion, exploration and freedom. While their jeans, jackets, t-shirts and skirts continually change to adapt and influence new trends, and the customer base may have shifted, they’re still the same product.

It’s clear that brands that fail to adapt and evolve will face struggles in the future. As customers’ wants and needs shift in the digital age, organisations must change with them. Changing your brand may be necessary, but it can also be fraught with pitfalls. We’ve previously written about The 6 Golden Rules For Building Your Brand, and these all still apply through your transformation. So, if you’re planning a digital transformation and require assistance with your branding, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog

Giles Taylor

Giles is the founder and creative director for W/Brand. A graphic designer from Reading in Berkshire, UK, he's a dad with two wonderful children who enjoys walking and playing the guitar.  

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