‘360° Branding’ in an era of ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’ for Brands
Ogilvy and Mather
Marketing Communication as a platform is transitioning the world over to adapt to changing times and trends. With the profusion of media platforms ranging from the mainstream media, to the digital phenomena, to multi-screen experiences and many more related phenomena, marketers the world over are in a constant quandary over the approach to take for marketing communication. The past few years have seen a constant debate over the role of ‘360 Degree Branding’ and ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’.

The conventional difference between the two being the fact that, while the former is more of adopting multiple media platforms for a campaign, the latter is more strategic by keeping the consumer in mind and then deciding on the requisite campaign platforms. I believe the marketing world today needs a blend of the two, a 360 degree branding approach with the spirit of ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’.

Take the many campaigns that are active currently in the media. Nestle for instance could have tided over the entire Maggi crisis with a 360 degree branding approach in India. Print media advertisements could have been used to communicate the facts regularly to keep the consumer posted on progress of the issue, PR could be leveraged for credibility and transparency while online platforms could be adopted to keep the brand relevant in the consumer’s eye. It is widely acknowledged that the largest number of brand Maggi lovers are the young who are hence key influencers in decision making for this category. Thereby making the online and digital platform crucial to the campaign. Events could further reinforce the brand context through engaging campaigns with the TG. Hence using a carefully integrated approach for 360 degree branding is the need of the hour.

David Ogilvy quips way back in 1955, “Every advertisement must contribute to the long-term image of the brand.” Keeping that in perspective each and every initiative by a brand contributes to its image. One would recall the recent crisis with excess rainfall in Chennai leaving the city waterlogged for days on end. New age brand ‘Ola’ rose to the occasion and deployed boats in the city to ferry customers. While the idea is quirky it was in truth very functional and lifesaving at that moment, which in turn resulted in a wave of press coverage for the exercise. This further went on to gather momentum on social media sites and became a viral phenomenon. Hence the use of any kind of branding be it even a BTL activity, contributes to the brand in the long run.
What is 360 Degree Branding?

  • Once you assess a brand in its relationship with the consumer, then everything that touches the consumer, everything that affects that relationship or that communicates the brand, becomes an essential part of brand building. 360 Degree Branding will acknowledge that there are myriad ways to communicate with a consumer and that all these points need a umbrella strategy to work in harmony – 360 branding requires multiple disciplines to work as a team for the brand.
  • The spirit of 360 represents the best possible understanding of how consumers perceive the brand – and it takes several related factors into consideration.
  • Needless to state, creativity needs to be at the heart of all 360 efforts. While ideas will continue to drive execution, pervasive creativity will define the success of successful 360 campaigns and brands as a result.
  • 360 degree branding is crucial in today's day and age, considering the cluttered market with marginal differences in terms of offerings. The only differentiation hence is ‘Brand Building’ and 360 degree branding can help drive the differentiation successfully in line with the growing number of communication platforms available.
  • 360 degree branding has also opened up the definition of Brand Building over the years. There was a time when brand building was defined as creating advertising only, today 360 branding opens up a plethora of opportunities that can truly contribute to brand building as a whole. This approach further offers opportunities right up to the CEO and enables brands to showcase their diverse strengths and attributes.
  • This is the era of the Millennials and the internet is shaping the way we operate in every aspect of life. The Internet today offers multiple opportunities for marketing communication that can decide the way a brand is perceived. A robust digital strategy is today a given for any 360 Degree campaign.

In my stint with Ogilvy, 360 Degree Branding was a universal approach adopted across the board and across global offices. While the dynamics have changed over time, I believe the essence of 360 degree branding remain the same. While one must adopt emerging platforms like digital media and online platforms as a crucial part of your strategy, the fundamentals of Branding will remain consistent.

In adopting a 360 Degree campaign strategy, each brand must reflect on the consumer insights that drive a particular category. Hence for instance if you are working with a Hospital Brand like a Fortis or Apollo in India, platforms like PR and BTL will take precedence as opposed to Advertising, Digital Media or Outdoor. However in the case of FMCG brands like Unilever, P&G or Parle, Advertising will take precedence followed by Outdoor, BTL, Digital and PR.

In the case of B2B brands the equation is again bound to change. For instance in the case of an Infosys, Wipro or TCS, communication is led by BTL and PR followed by Advertising for recruitments. The global Startup phenomenon is propagating yet another mix wherein new Startups are launching with PR and Digital. However established startups like a Flipkart, Ola or Snapdeal for instance which has received 2 to 3 rounds of funding or more adopt mainstream advertising to build the brand.

Hence it is no secret that smart 360 degree campaigns are the order of the day. However blending in conventional Integrated Marketing Communication with clear cut consumer insights will be key to Brand Building in the years to come.