When a nine-year old girl jumps up and down and contorts her body in unimaginable ways in front of the TV as an avatar mimics her every move, while steering a raft down a raging river, it is easy to wonder where technology has led us. Marketers should question whether Xbox has figured out something that many brands are still struggling to understand: A brand’s role in the digital space is to seamlessly connect the physical and digital worlds in perfect harmony.

Every day, brands allocate more of their marketing budgets to digital media. Lesya Lysyj, the CMO of Heineken USA said that Heineken spent 16% of their marketing budget on digital in 2012 and is planning to spend 20% in 2013.

The growth of digital spending and the virtual world that we are now connected to represents the importance of the digital space to brand marketers. We propose marketers consider the following:

1. The brand must serve as the connective glue between the online and offline customer experience:

The brand becomes the cornerstone of an ecosystem that connects the digital landscape with the offline world. The brand should guide the customer experience through the digital space with a level of coherence and consistency. Brands must overcome the traditional thinking of intangible ideas created to suit a customer experience in an offline world. Brands nowadays require an additive element that allows them to be successful in its new role: Captain and Visionary of agnostic media and Aggregator and organizer of all customer experiences.

2. A new “digital brand addendum” must be added to the core brand strategy as a response to this new level of “connectivity”:

There is a new level of immersion, brand involvement and connectivity via the digital space that has made our lives brighter, more interesting and more social. In such an environment, there must be an additive idea that helps the brand be successful in the digital space.

This idea defines the voice, tone and level of engagement of the brand via the digital ecosystem. The digital brand idea must be focused on taking the core brand idea and adding an element of experiential connectivity that includes the consumer in defining the brand story and creates new levels of intimacy and experience.

3. To properly leverage the brand you must understand the nature and the possibilities of the digital space:

Marketers today are still struggling with the digital space because it is moving at the speed of light or possibly at the speed of a little girl riding a raft down a raging river. Understanding the digital landscape, means digging deeper into the three kinds of media which represent digital marketing; paid, earned and owned. Each media serves a purpose and brands now must bridge the gap between these elements to create the ideal customer experience that their brands are striving for.

Corona beer launched a mobile application, which turned out to be a big success.

In fact, Corona is an example of a brand with a clearly defined offline brand strategy, which found the right way to reinforce its strategy in the digital space creating a consistent customer experience. One of Corona’s brand strengths is to bring people together, creating fun and relaxing experiences for its consumers.

Corona created a social application that resonated well with their customers. Customers were invited to check-out of social media and come together by checking-in at a bar or stadium. They were then asked to upload a photo capturing a fun moment. The picture was posted instantly on the Corona Facebook page. As an incentive, Corona consumers who used the app and uploaded a photo were awarded points, which were redeemable at a Corona store.

The Corona marketing team successfully translated the idea of “coming together” by introducing the “check-in” social media concept. Customer involvement was seamless in the online and offline world, bridging the gap between the two worlds and creating the ideal customer experience. In the online space customers engaged with the brand by uploading pictures, while at the same time customers were driven to Corona stores to redeem their Corona gifts.

Ultimately, the digital space has added layers of experience that allow for “avatar-like immersion” with the brand, redefining the brand strategy. However, digital media has created opportunities for brands to play a more integral role in our lives. Marketers need to make the brand the core idea that holds the digital and offline worlds together. Our goal as marketers should be to use the digital space to enrich the consumer experience with the brand that feels as real as riding a raft down a raging river.