We've entered an era where the consumer has more control than ever. Disruptive messaging is not as effective - or tolerated - as it once was. So instead of asserting a one-way brand message,
marketers are now creating relevant experiences to organically align brands with consumers. These experiences themselves are becoming brand platforms; an energy drink is a lifestyle and a computer
company is a content provider. Today, brands represent much more than their product or service.
A forerunner to the augmented brand platform is entertainment media brands.
TV networks, in particular, have long promised a broad set of experiences under an umbrella brand concept. A singular leading idea or essence is still at the core, but the execution of a brand like
Fox, ABC, or The CW has little in common with that of a traditional consumer brand. These brands are rarely presented in dedicated 30-second stories. Rather, they are expressed through a host of
signatures that, while scattered about, combine to formulate a cohesive consumer experience.
I call this branding in the cracks. It's the art of telling the brand
story not as a linear narrative but as an environmental thread that weaves through the consumer experience, something like the ambiance of a great interior design. Ideally, the consumer relates to the
brand's style, tone and personality. At their best, these brands add value to the experience, either as entertainment in its own right or through being more consumer-friendly than the next guy.
Brands that operate in this fashion can best be understood as ecosystems; a holistic relationship of diverse, yet interrelated, experiences. And now that traditional media
consumption has been supplemented with digital channels, second-screen apps, and social platforms, there are more cracks than ever. To manage the complexities of a highly functional, multi-platform
ecosystem, a brand blueprinting process is a necessity. Essentially, it's a transmedia strategy that maps where consumers interface with the brand, and highlights available branding
Consumers now hold much of the power in proliferating a brand's message. But the solution to this shift might be gleamed from emerging trends. Branded
content, brand integration, and two-way television experiences all have one thing in common: they blend branding and entertainment. Disruptive messaging is the old. Finding opportunities that
integrate brands seamlessly into consumer experiences is the future.
Dan Pappalardo, Executive Creative Director & Co-Founder of