The brands that mean the most to consumers aren’t always the ones you’d expect.

Branding has become an almost mystical concept. Companies know brands are immensely valuable, but have only a slippery grasp on how they work. This is quite understandable, since the toolbox for measuring brand success has historically been limited to criteria such as sales numbers, brand recognition and brand image, which, while crucial, do not tell the whole story.

Indeed, in today’s digital world, brand relevance is arguably more salient than brand recognition. In the past, it might have been sufficient to implant a brand name in the buyer’s mind so that they chose your product over competitors when browsing a supermarket shelf. Brand loyalty has an altogether different meaning in the new digital ecosystem. A successful brand today is one that springs spontaneously to customers’ lips as they order their weekly groceries through Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, or to their fingers when googling for information prior to a big purchase. This is where the branding rubber meets the road in the 21st century.

In other words, relevant brands not only have a competitive edge, but are also uniquely embedded in customers’ lives (and hearts). Brand recognition can always be bought with a large enough marketing budget; brand relevance cannot – it occurs organically when customer-centricity is brought to the forefront of branding strategy.

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