Consolidating a brand isn’t new. Sometimes, you need to bring disparate aspects of a brand under one banner, or combine different parts of it for the sake of efficiency. However, as brand consolidation becomes a bigger trend in digital marketing and global media, we are seeing more and more examples of online and offline marketing attempts being combined, too.
With online-only companies like Amazon moving into the physical space, streaming services such as Fox and Disney collaborating, and companies like Apple and Google moving into the game console market, it’s a time where the world’s biggest brands are moving into new areas.
By moving into these new sectors, the combination of marketing efforts and consolidation of goals is bound to happen as the boundaries between online and offline blur.
So, in a world where brands are redefining themselves, how is their expansion causing the consolidation of online and offline marketing and how is it panning out?
Why Are Brands Consolidating Online and Offline?
It’s easy to get lost in a bubble when working in digital marketing. We begin to assume that everyone must be online in some capacity and ignore the fact that some of us just don’t gel with online advertising. For that reason, we often see brands push forward two marketing channels: online and offline. This makes sense, as it prevents a brand figuratively putting too many eggs in one basket.
However, are distinctly separate marketing channels the right way forward? Brands are increasingly seeing that consolidation of online and offline leads to better brand awareness, cohesion, credibility and improved competitiveness.
More likely than not, brands are finding that their competitors are lacking in one area. An online-only brand may have little to no presence in offline marketing and vice-versa. Consolidation ensures no gaps appear in their marketing and that online and offline remain equal.
A merge of mediums, too, allows the creative sides of agencies to shine. Agencies can sometimes be limited by their marketing medium, so interweaving online and offline campaigns provides more room to flex creativity; a campaign that remains consistent and plays off online and offline mediums will improve brand awareness with those who see both without disappointing potential customers that only interact with one of them.
Which Brands Are Consolidating and Combining Marketing Efforts?
A famous recent example of excellent consolidation of offline and online content came from the American charity Lung Cancer Alliance. While offline-online content relationships are typically used to build brand consistency, the charity decided to go in the opposite direction.
The charity put up provocative billboards across the US with statements such as “Cat lovers deserve to die”, “Hipsters deserve to die”, “Crazy aunts deserve to die”, etc. This, understandably, got some people interested and irate, causing them to look up where the billboard was linking to. The billboard led to a landing page with a countdown which, when it reached zero, revealed itself to be Lung Cancer Alliance with an explanation that the billboards were merely highlighting the prevalence of the disease across different ages and lifestyles.
(Source: Lung Cancer Alliance).
This is an example of online and offline working in tandem; the campaign would not have worked as well if it was solely digital. While this charity is smaller than the world’s biggest brands, places like Porsche and Amazon are employing the same tactics with QR codes, which are probably the most explicit example of the online-offline intersection.
QR codes are in an odd place where they’re much older than most people realise – they was developed in 1994 – but have only been utilised recently. QR codes need to be interacted with and advertised properly in the offline space, but universally lead to digital pages, apps, and videos; they are a pathway to digital marketing which can only be accessed through the avenues of offline advertising.
In essence, brands are realising that having siloed marketing efforts is not always the best way to go, and that consolidation and combination can have striking results.
Is Content Consolidation the Future?
Of course, both online and offline marketing shouldn’t always be consolidated. Each has their own idiosyncrasies that can be spoiled when melded with the other, but treating them universally as separate entities can hamstring your marketing efforts.
In a crowded marketplace, exposure is everything, and combining online and offline is the best way to maximise it. The best way to consolidate them, though, isn’t as easy as just making them aesthetically consistent – the best combinations are ones where online and offline content reinforce one another.
Brands are consolidating more than ever, leading to the borders between online and offline blurring. As the reaches of the digital world extend, so will the degree of difference between ‘offline’ and ‘online’.
Whether the future will do away with this duality is doubtful, but framing your marketing outside of the industry’s preconceived boundaries is always a risk worth taking. To stay ahead of the curve, keep up with our digital marketing articles.