What is needed for a brand to be called a digital brand? Well, a digital brand is not a brand with a presence online. What you have there is channel planning that prioritises digital for the transmission of the message.

In fact, the rise of digital media is leading to a lot of stretching. That is brands going beyond their positioning and using their name beyond their core business. Why has digital done this? Because it makes everything possible. To be everywhere and targeted anyone. A lot of media choice is count-productive to long term value.

So, if a digital presence is not enough what is? Simply put, it is not one thing (say, using digital) that a digitally native brand does but rather several. Here is a rundown of what native players are doing:

No.1: Starting with a distinctive name

Basic to all branding, but native players have names that often invent categories of their own and rely on a little creative description. Think ‘Facebook’ or AirBnB.

No. 2: An underlying social graph

Native players build on an underlying social framework beyond just online platform. They do not forget the power of real world ties and forge communities between users. Think Reddit or even LinkedIn.

No. 3: A clear user-experience and interface

These days we have brands literally in our hands. Digital brands know this and pride themselves on investing in interface design that captures their essence and represents them well across all platforms. Think about Google and its investment in Google Design to ensure it leads the pack in interface experience.

No.4: A focus on engagement

Online brands compete for attention more and more. After all, attention is money in today’s data-rich environment where online advertising has become the bedrock of many. Think Facebook, Google and Amazon who lead the pack in fine-tuning for engagement they can engineer into revenue. Which leads us to…

No. 5: Primed for data

Not a lot of brands are built to thrive well on data, yet this is so important for strategic plans. But true digital brands have this in mind from the go. They build touchpoints that can collect multiple data points and construct systems to review, judge and amend course as a result.

In short, a digital brand is a brand built on experience and design, not on product, founder or advertising. Only when these factors are baked into the DNA can a brand be a digital brand.

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