Mobile: Brands (and Brand Managers) Are In for a Thrill


Post by Guest Blogger, Judy Hopelain

Brand managers have historically aimed for consistency in the online experience and have aimed to deliver a largely uniform presentation of their brands. Their websites house most, if not all, of their content and serve as the one-stop-shop for accessing it. This approach to online brand management has been possible as long as users could access a brand’s online assets through just one platform, the computer (whether desktop, laptop or netbook), and only a handful of operating systems.

Prepare for the Mobile Transformation of Brands

Brands are in for a thrill  — and brand management will be redefined — as Gartner forecasts that mobile will overtake the PC by 2013 as the main way users access the Internet. As Beth Murphy, CMO of the born-mobile site HotelTonight, told the audience at a recent SVAMA panel discussion on mobile marketing, “Mobile users have different expectations of their experience than their computer-based counterparts: they want it to be tactile and much more engaging.” Meeting these expectations will require redesigning the brand’s mobile experience, not just porting the computer-based web experience over to mobile platforms

Today, less than 30% of company websites are optimized for mobile access. Doing so requires understanding each mobile platform’s unique advantages and constraints — from text messaging on mobile phones to wireless roaming and apps on smartphones and tablets.  Google’s brand new gomo initiative is a reflection of the importance of optimizing for mobile, and the size of the opportunity.

New Demands for Brand Management

Brand management will mushroom as brand teams are called on to define the brand experience for specific mobile platforms, and to develop mobile style guides that define the user interaction and depth of experience on each one. They will also need to specify how the brand’s messaging hierarchy and overall brand positioning are expressed through mobile. In the process, mobile may afford new opportunities for brand meaning that had not previously been understood. So, mobile may well inform brand strategy as well as be informed by it.

Brand managers will also have to ensure their existing websites are optimized for mobile. To make the case to management, they might want to run a few mobile promotions first so they have the numbers to justify the request.

Mobile is going to make user experiences and brand management a lot more interesting. They should also be a lot more fun!

Judy Hopelain is a brand strategy consultant and lecturer at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley.

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