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The New Age of Branding and Commerce

The boundaries between online and offline shopping continue to become ever more blurred, but what do brands need to thrive in the new age of brand commerce?

We grew up viewing branding and commerce in isolation, like oil and water. In marketing, "branding" represents the emotional world; commerce is the rational one. Branding provides purpose and identity. Commerce gets people to transact. Branding uses mass media. Commerce focuses on direct marketing. Awareness and perception measure branding. Conversion and sales measure commerce. We had a limited view of who was going through the purchase funnel. We experienced significant drops during each stage without knowing why. Hence, we focused only on the top, "the brand," and the bottom, "the commerce." We neglected the middle, "consideration," which was hard to measure.

Technology and data disrupted this model. Today, branding and commerce have blended into one funnel that's measurable and immediate using customer analytics. Now, we can purchase any goods, anytime and anywhere, through our mobile devices. We can go in minutes from brand "awareness" to purchase "Commerce" within the same social frame.

In summary, branding without commerce is ineffective. Commerce without branding is irrelevant and lacks scale. Businesses that can seamlessly integrate branding and Commerce will edge the ones which only excel at one part of the funnel. In a connected world, integration wins.

The reality is more complicated. We live not in a world of online versus offline but in a world where those boundaries are inextricably blurred. Where offline sales are influenced and enabled by digital technology. Where physical stores are powered by digital data and mobile is ubiquitous at the point of purchase.While retailers once feared the "showrooming" challenge, today smart stores are gearing up for the "webrooming" opportunity-consumers who research online but buy in store.

What do brands need to thrive in the age of brand commerce?

  • A hunger for data.
  • An obsession with user experience.
  • A spirit of invention.