The Evolution of Integration
Making brand integration look effortless in the digital world will require new thinking from both agencies and clients
For a word and, indeed, an idea that is all about bringing thinking and processes in line, there are an astonishing number of views on how best make integration work in marketing and advertising.
Solutions even go as far as calling the integration challenge by a different name. (For what it’s worth, I like Richard Millar’s interconnected idea and observations. A lot.)
But this divergence of thought and activity is not only stimulating – as I’m sure you’ll find over the next few pages – it is also less and less surprising. In a digital world, where new business models can spring up at the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen, no single business is the same. They all face different integration challenges.
The sheer range of consumer touchpoints, the fragmentation of media and the ability of consumers to influence change in businesses and brands only exacerbate that. It is also more complicated, because it is easy to spot when marketing is not integrated and why it has gone wrong – it is far harder to spot the best examples and replicate them. True integration should look effortless and, from the consumer’s point of view, there should be a seamless experience of the brand.
That is why, for this supplement, on page 6 we have spotlighted three large organisations and asked them to talk about what integration means to them. For the insurer RSA, the company behind the More Th>n brand, a lead agency approach is favoured, with the type of campaign required dictating who drives integration. At Royal Mail, a prescribed approach leads to a tight briefing process, with each agency knowing its place and being hired for specific expertise. Virgin Media has moved from a one-stop-shop approach to conducting a team of individual specialists.
All of this throws up unique and ever-changing challenges to agencies. But – as this supplement points out in many different ways – integration means that no agency can be allowed to face that challenge on its own.
Philip Smith is the head of content solutions at Campaign
But all our interviewees agree that agencies may need to be reminded that integration should be applied consistently to building business.
Brands will need ideas that connect, engage and inspire their audiences if they are to stay ahead of the game in today's all-seeing, connected world.
All our customers are inherently digitally integrated, so agencies that don't follow suit will be going the way of the dinosaurs.
Client organisations need to be fully behind integrated marketing communications strategies if they are to have a chance of success.
Agencies can deliver ROI in an integrated world only if they rethink their measurement approach.
Brands should forget integration and develop a guiding philosophy that is broad and robust enough to be relevant across all areas of their business.
Agencies can help clients discover and articulate core brand values that can galvanise an entire business.
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