Brand Intersection Group’s Charlie Jones on the Digital Rules of Engagement

Charlie Jones is the President of the Brand Intersection Group, a brand strategy and marketing innovation consultancy.  Charlie launched the Brand Intersection Group in 2007 and over the last 20+ years he has worked with over 100 clients, selling over 170 products in multiple countries for some of the world’s most admired brands, leading nonprofits and critical Government communication programs. We recently spoke with Charlie about online branding.

The Makegood: What does it mean for brands to stand out online today?

CJ: As someone who spends an enormous amount of time with consumers on behalf of brands, I’ve come to believe that most digital environments have different rules of engagement. I liken it to that feeling you get when you’ve driven long distances only to realize you weren’t paying full attention. Consumers are habituated to a partial attention in digital environments. To stand out online, it is essential for brands to find ways to awaken the full curiosity and emotion of the consumer. Ads that create an experience and evoke some emotion by challenging our senses and minds make a big difference for branding on the Web.

The Makegood: What is the last ad that you remember seeing online and why does it stand out to you?

CJ: Allstate’s Mayhem digital executions were terrific. The high impact ad units successfully demonstrated the brand’s proposition that mayhem can happen at anytime, anywhere by literally breaking the homepage image, demanding attention. Brands and creative that go the extra mile to create an unexpected moment like that break the divide between “screen attention” and “full attention.” This execution was simple, smart, impactful and entertaining, making it memorable.

The Makegood: What was a “game changer” in 2011 that helped to start and make branding online easier?

CJ: Two things began converging in 2011 that created more possibilities. A critical mass of brand dollars, led by some of the country’s leading CPG companies shifted ad spend from television to digital. And, at the same time, the digital creative community garnered more attention and maturation.. When money and talent align, good things tend to happen. As more great examples of breakthrough branding and creative excellence emerge in digital space the pace will accelerate. We are turning a corner and the brands that get out front will have unique opportunities to transform great experiences online, into brand-building communities across platforms.

The Makegood: In 2012, what is the number one thing you want to see shift/change in the digital advertising ecosystem?

CJ: When people, groups or systems get treated as an afterthought they sometimes begin to believe the critics. Digital was marginalized for a while and there is still some hangover in the system (figuratively) that keeps some digital professionals from taking their rightful place at the forefront of strategy, creativity and brand building. I’d like for young talent in digital space to recognize that they are future brand leaders and to embrace the challenge to do far more than acquire display inventory. The fact is the digital space is shaking off the weak players so it’s essential for digital talent to ignite ambition and stay agile.

The Makegood: What do you think is the biggest misconception about brand advertisers’ digital advertising?

CJ: I think the biggest misconception about high performing brands is that they dichotomize brand building and direct response. The best brands are meticulous about managing all consumer touch-points as either supporting or diminishing their brand. They may expect some of their digital work to drive commerce but not at the expense of creating an experience that enhances brand equities. I advise brands to be wary of networks or providers that act like all impressions are equal and direct response isn’t accountable to brand objectives.

This is article is part of a series focused on online branding sponsored by Undertone.