Winning in the digital space means having a brand.

What's the difference between success and failure in new media? Having a brand. A brand means your consumers know who you are and what you do. They have something to attach to, to fall in love with, to bond with, to call their own. That connection separates a utility from a product consumers come back to again and again.

Your brand communicates what you do in simple, consumer terms. It tells people what your product does – more specifically, what it does for them. That offering, of course, has to be meaningful to the consumers, and your brand has to be trustworthy.

Meaning and value forms in the minds of consumers, not in your boardroom and not in your design labs. What your programmers think is a cool idea may not be quite as special in the eyes of real consumers.

For that reason, many new media products fail because they're nothing more than technology. Just because you have the technology doesn't mean you have a brand. And just because you have an idea that consumers will really cherish, doesn't mean you'll find success – it's worthless if you don't effectively communicate that idea to the masses.

At knowDigital we believe that the essence of a strong brand is the ability to communicate what your product does—and what it does for me, the consumer.

Our research revealed that FLO TV failed to communicate something meaningful to consumers

FLO TV LogoIn the spring of 2010, our research revealed there was no place in the market for "FLO TV," the first generation of "mobile TV." The concept of television "anywhere you want it" sounds appealing in theory. Along comes FLO TV, 20 or so channels that you can receive almost anywhere nationwide on a small $149 device.

However the dazzling television campaign designed to support the launch of FLO TV failed to tell consumers what it is and why you'd want it in your life. Instead, our research suggests consumers were left scratching their heads about what FLO is and what it would do for them.

Plastic Logic's QUE suffered a similar fatal flaw in branding

Plastic Logic's QUE—the darling of the 2010 CES—suffered a similar fatal flaw in its branding. An exciting technological feat for sure—a tablet computer for the business user featuring an innovative thinner, lighter, color plastic display. All sounds great on a patent application, but what does it mean to me? Tell me I can read every book on Amazon on that cute little Kindle, now that's an idea I can fall in love with.

Internet radio brand "Pandora" communicates a real consumer benefit

knowDigital has also studied the emerging "internet radio" category where Pandora stands out as an example of a new media brand that works.

Pandora LogoPandora turned the "Music Genome Project"—a mapping of the "DNA" of various styles of music people find appealing—into "Internet Radio" where the consumer controls what's played on their own custom radio channel.1 Smartly, Pandora's creators positioned the new service in the "Radio" category. Pandora is radio you control with more variety, a position that keys into one of the primary complaints about traditional radio.

"Internet radio that you control" quickly tells me what the product is and what it does for me. Sure, Pandora has lots of other features, like fewer commercials, ability to tell other people what songs you like, a quick way to buy the songs you hear – but Pandora doesn't focus on those points. Successful brands keep the message short and focused on their most important feature.

What does your brand mean? What does it do for the consumer? Have you defined your product around it? Is your new media offering more than just a good idea, more than just technology? Does a large enough consumer base know you're out there? Or is it just a "brand" on your corporate whiteboard? These are the questions we ask as we help our clients build successful brands in new media.

At knowDigital, we believe brand building is the essence to success in the digital marketplace. And that begins with understanding what's important to your target and ensuring that your brand is defined by that understanding.

Know what your digital brand means with knowDigital.

1As an aside, the name "Music Genome Project Radio" likely would have failed miserably. It's not a name consumers are going to bond with. Instead the company chose "Pandora," a name that had no previous meaning to many consumers, might invoke "gift" in the minds of Greek Mythology buffs, or perhaps "Pandora's box" from which all of the world's "evils" were released.