Brand Strategy, Digital Marketing, Digital Strategy

Digital Communication: The New Normal

Digital Communication is Evolving. Is Your Brand Keeping Up With The Trends?


There is a new normal in digital communication styles and brands that can speak the language of their customers will rise to the top. Knowing your target audience is one thing… but really understanding how to communicate with them is what sets smart successful brands apart from the rest. It’s not just about the form of digital communications that you use, but also the personality, tone and timing in which you do it. Is your brand keeping up with these ever-changing digital communication trends? Now is not the time to get stuck in tradition. It’s a new digital world… embrace it.

Digital Communications - Then and Now

Digital Communication: Then and Now

Brands have typically rooted their digital communication style in tradition. Getting just the right words in just the right style has typically been the baseline for brand communications. The focus has been on creating highly developed content that goes through layers of iterations before anyone outside the company lays eyes on it. It’s more professional and serious in tone and it has been very black and white, literally and figuratively. And most importantly, the type of content created was meant to last a really long time.

But the digital era has ushered in a new digital communication style that is as opposite of what brands have practiced as you can imagine. This new digital communication style is whimsical, quirky and fun. It’s not practiced nor is it perfect. It’s colorful and visual and uses fewer words to convey a message. And this communication style is rooted in short-form snippets and ephemeral content that is highly dependent on an audience being in the right place at the right time to experience it.

New Styles of Digital Communication


New Styles of Communicating

So what are these new digital communication styles that are catapulting some brands to “must-follow” status? Well, the styles are endless and the rules are few.  From using emojis and gifs to memes and lenses, the ability to connect and communicate in new ways is the name of the game. But here is the kicker: it has to be authentic, natural and relevant. Brands that try to unnaturally force new communications styles will be called out immediately. For some, it will be an easy transition. For others, it will take time and testing to see what clicks. Here are some ways brands and marketers can embrace these new styles of communication:

Digital Communications - EmojisEMOJIs 😀 🙌 ❤️

According to, humans process emojis as if they are actual human faces. It is becoming more acceptable and common practice to simply use emojis to convey what we are feeling or doing. Emojis are used by over 92% of the online population – so if your brand isn’t embracing them, you are missing out! Using emojis in brand communications is fun as well as eye-catching. They can be used to enhance or even tell a complete story.

Brands that are doing it right:

Disney (They’ve even created digital storytelling using only emojis!)

Dominos (Dominos has gone a step further and is using emojis within Facebook Messenger to allow customers to order a pizza with an emoji!)


GIFs - New Digital Communication GIFs

Much like emojis, gifs are an alternative way to convey emotion with a snippet of video or animation. Utilizing GIFs on social media can help bring your brand to life. They are a great way to humanize your brand. From conveying a feeling to showcasing a product, GIFs are a great way to visually express your brand and/or your products.

Brands that are doing it right:

Kraft (Kraft creates some nifty GIFs and posts them on their popular Tumblr account)

NASA (NASA taps into the mystery of space and the intrigue of our need-to-know in their amazing GIFs)



Digital Communication - MemesMEMEs

Great Memes are entertaining and can be hugely successful if done right. While they are a short-lived medium, they can evoke positive responses amongst your audience and help drive brand awareness, likeability and engagement. Most memes are intended to be funny and light-hearted. Brands should take note and never cross the fine line of humor and humiliation.

Brands that are doing it right:

Jimmy John’s (Jimmy John’s uses the right amount of product placement and humor to win over the hearts of their audience)

Bark Box (What’s cuter than puppies? Not much. They’ve got this one down!)



Digital Communications - Filters and LensesFILTERS & LENSES

The rise of picture and video sharing platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have given brands the opportunity to use visual communication styles in so many new ways. From geo-filters to branded lenses, the opportunities to playfully express your brand and your product attributes are growing. As live video becomes more prominent, the use of branded filters and lenses will also rise.

Brands that are doing it right:

Taco Bell (Last year, Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo Snapchat Lens was viewed over 224 Million times!)

Gatorade (Whether it’s their successful Super Bowl lens or snapchat stories – they hit the mark with their target audience)

Starbucks (From product features to supporting causes, Starbucks creates impactful campaigns with filters)


Digital Communications - PersonalityAUTHENTIC PERSONALITY

Gone are the days of spewing out corporate lingo. Edutainment is a more humanistic approach to communications. Finding your groove and allowing your personality to shine through digital mediums is a winning tactic. Whether you are conveying your brand personality through humor and snark or compassion and empathy, the key is to be authentically you.

Brands that are doing it right:

Wendy’s (while it isn’t a strategy for every brand, Wendy’s has found their spot in being snarky on social)

Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary has an in-your-face get $*&# done personality that is always on)

Nike (They continue to stay true to their aspirational, inspirational and emotional brand strategy)


How can Brands take advantage of these new communication styles?

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new and different communications styles. But, the underlying objective of all of them is the same. As a brand, you want to engage with your audience as intimately as possible. You want to be more relatable, more relevant and more human to them.  Bottom line… you want to establish long-term relationships with your target audience. Building relationships is an incredibly important piece of the customer journey. Brands that emotionally connect with their audiences build the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor that is essential for fostering engagement.

So how do the best Brands build genuine relationships with their audiences? Simple… they speak their language. More specifically, they speak to their audiences’ digital communication styles. Here are a few ways brands and marketers can take advantage of these new trends in communication styles:

1. Brands must learn the new behaviors of communicating to effectively engage their audience

2. Messaging must be rooted in conversation, not content (it’s about communicating and connecting, not informing) 

3. Brand strategy and brand voice should guide your digital communications strategy 

4. Eliminate corporate and business jargon and find more meaningful ways to share with your audience 

5. Accept that ephemeral content can be more unpolished, authentic and unscripted 

Is your brand embracing these new ways of connecting and engaging with your target audience? What have you found to be the greatest opportunities and challenges? I’d love to know! Share your thoughts.

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Darcy Schuller is the Chief Digital Marketing and Brand Strategist at Suvonni, an innovative boutique digital marketing agency in Chicago. As a leader in the digital marketing space, Darcy is passionate about helping clients build stronger brands through elevated customer engagement, social media marketing, content marketing and dynamic web experiences. Darcy is a respected marketing thought leader, speaker and consultant.