It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the explosion in digital media would tend to support that conclusion. In fact, a large part of marketing is “imagery management” and the concept of “association”. Certain things go together to help create concept. Very clean black and white cows, in a green field, with a bright blue sky with little white clouds all work together to harness the concept of “the freshest, most wholesome, most delicious milk on earth”. Certainly that image is considerably more compelling than a picture showing a sweating one gallon jug of milk sitting on a poorly lit shelf in the refrigerator section of a grocery store. That’s why imagery matters, and why association matters. How things are visually perceived is plays an even larger role now in brand messaging, than ever, as so many ideas are communicated through images rather than text.
Unfortunately, brands can sometimes find themselves victims of association errors. Metaphorically speaking, association errors are very similar to the “spot the artist’s mistake” puzzles, and occur when brand images appear in the wrong places. By way of example, you wouldn’t expect to find high end watches for sale in a traditional brick and mortar vitamin store, simply because brand managers know that that’s not the best way to promote the value and exclusivity of the brand. That said, I recently discovered high end watches for sale on a discount vitamin web site. In my role as an internet brand monitor I see these kinds of association errors all too often.
The problem is, that in the chaotic environment of the web, marketing managers don’t always have complete control of band imagery or messaging. In the current web landscape, any unauthorized re-seller of a brand can post the host’s product in places that completely muddle brand imagery and messaging. Like, I suppose, steeply discounting branded watches on a vitamin website.
To maximize the digital impact of the brand, today’s marketing manager needs not only a solid foundation in digital brand offense, they must also dedicate some of their time, efforts, and resources to brand defense: Ensuring that the brand imagery and messaging are not being diluted by inappropriate pricing and presentation on the web. In order to deliver a consistent message, it’s important to ensure mechanisms are in place to “spot the artist’s mistake” before the incorrect brand image is ingrained in the minds of the target audience forever.