Getting Digital Right with Nigel Hollis

Getting Digital Right with Nigel Hollis

This past April, Millward Brown Digital hosted the eleventh annual Digital CMO Summit in Miami, FL. The event brought together 200 industry leaders for three days of hard-hitting sessions and networking opportunities. The agenda was jam-packed with top-notch speakers who shared their perspectives on this year’s theme, #GettingDigitalRight. Over the next few weeks we plan to share with you the one-on-one video interviews with select speakers and attendees.

“Fragmented media must not lead to fragmented brands.”

Following Millward Brown Digital’s DCMO Summit, I wrote about Rob Norman’s presentation in which he likened the media world to Humpty Dumpty: the old media model is broken into pieces and it cannot be put back together again. In my post, I proposed that brands needed to leverage a coherent brand idea and use consistent brand cues to ensure that their story was not fragmented as a result.

This is a theme that I returned to in an interview following the Summit, and I would like to expand on a couple of my comments here. In the video, I stress the need for the brand to be recognized across different media channels. Why? Because if brand’s media communications are fragmented so too will be its influence on people’s brand impressions. And a fragmented brand is a weaker brand.

It does not matter which channel we are talking about – digital, TV, outdoor or retail – the most important thing that determines whether your brand gets bought is whether the sight of the brand triggers an instinctive positive reaction. That reaction must lead to a positive behavioral response but without recognition, nothing is going to happen. If the brand is not immediately recognized, in most cases that impression is simply wasted.

There are two aspects to the recognition problem:

People simply do not see the brand

The brand is simply not seen or attention is diverted to something else when the brand is visible. We see this all the time with TV ads. People’s interest in what is shown and said is not directed to include the brand. The same happens with digital, particularly where display ads use frames to tell a story but do not include the brand logo, and as Ray Pointer notes, I am probably underestimating the scale of the issue.

People fail to recognize the brand when they do see it

The brand identity is not well established in people’s memories or distinctive enough for people to easily recognize the brand. This is often a result of us making assumptions about what brand cues will identify a brand (remember the Tropicana debacle)? Is red Vodafone or Coca-Cola? Is blue IBM or Facebook? It might seem obvious to you, but is it obvious to your consumers? I am willing to bet there are many brands that are simply not easily recognized and so lose out.

Have there been occasions where you thought you saw one brand only to realize it was another? Please share your thoughts.

For more information on the Digital CMO Summit visit

About Nigel Hollis:
Nigel Hollis is the Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Millward Brown. Read more from Nigel at

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  1. Lewis LaLanne

    One of the key ways I’ve seen top marketers ensure their business is linked to the message is by leading with a spokesperson/character who connects with the audience.

    I would never confuse Dave Thomas as being a McDonald’s guy just as I would never confuse Ronald McDonald for being the Wendy’s guy.

    I don’t even buy Progressive Insurance, nor do I watch TV, but if I happened to see a spot with her in it, I would know what company the ad was for.

    The same thing happened with the “Can you hear me now guy?” who is forever linked with Verizon.

    And when it comes to information marketers, it has always seemed to me that when a person, more likely than not the owner, leads the charge, the brand is vastly more memorable.

    Especially when they communicate frequently to their audience often in written or video form.

    I would never confuse Frank Kern with Dan Kennedy. I would never confuse Jay Abraham with Brian Clark. I would never confuse Neil Patel with Eben Pagan.

    Why? Unique voices. Unique styles.

    Each of these guys have hauled in millions of dollars with their information products and their consulting services. All on the back of them being their own unique voice to their audience.

    Of course, having a spokesperson leading the charge is more risky because that person can be here today and gone tomorrow – unless of course, the character can never disappear as is the case with Ronald McDonald – but I believe that it is a risk worth investing in because the pay off can be huge – especially for the lean enterprise who needs to focus on being resourceful because resources are limited.

    Thank you Nigel for reminding me of the important branding lessons you have here that I can’t be reminded of too often. :)