I’m always looking for inspiration – in my personal life as well as professionally, and I’m often surprised to find that the most profound and inspiring things are often very simple. The pure simplicity of the message I’m going to share with you now is a tribute to the genius of one man who is able to break things down to their purest form. This way they dont overwhelm and the recipient feels that they can go forward and conquer because these new tools give them power.

There are 4 key layers to your digital brand DNA as represented by this brand onion diagram

Brand DNA is commonly modelled using the "brand onion"


Joe Crump, the Global Head of Strategy for Amnesia Razorfish, is one of those incredible marketers that I hope one day to call my mentor (him and Andy Lark from Commonwealth Bank – I’m not a fan of Comm. Bank, but I am a fan of their Chief Marketing Officer). In Joe’s presentation on Digital Darwinism he outlines 5 very simple (that’s not to say easy) tips for how to build a successful business and brand in our digital world.


A successful digital business strategy should:

  • Find a need that is not being met – once you’ve identified the gap, build your business
  • Invent something that is of service to others
  • Don’t be afraid to try something different – we should constantly be testing and optimising our work
  • Pay attention to what is happening – not just in your industry, but everywhere
  • Keep evolving, those who stand still get left behind (think of Kodak and Barnes & Noble – my words, not Joe’s).

In Joe’s presentation below, he outlines the 7 elements that live within a brand’s DNA. As someone who is building their business now and trying to build success on my own personal values and what I want my business to stand for, these 7 steps are incredibly helpful. I want both my business and my brand to be inspiring to other people – not to everyone, just to the people who it resonates with, that’s enough for me. But the bigger that group is, the better.


The 7 digital brand DNA elements are:

  • Authentic
    Does it seem genuine?
  • Adaptive
    Does it respond to your involvement?
  • Relevant
    Is it useful or appealing to you specifically?
  • Transformative
    Does it raise your expectations of the brand or the web?
  • Fresh
    Does it inspire feeling or emotion?
  • Immersive
    Do you lose track of time?
  • Social
    Is it worth borrowing, sharing or contributing to?


Using Amnesia Razorfish’s way of scoring brands, they have determined that
Top 10 Digital Brands are:

1. Google

2. Apple

3. YouTube

4. Flickr

5. Netflix

6. Nike

6. eBay


9. Coca-Cola

10. Mercedes


Do you agree? From my point of view, I would never have put Coca-Cola or Mercedes into the top 10 digital brands, I don’t think of them as innovative in this space. I know from some other blog posts that folk were surprised not to see Amazon in the Top 10 Digital Brands but I understand that. Amazon are absolute pioneers but their brand does not evoke emotion or respond to your interaction, its functional and ticks a lot of boxes for some of the other elements but its seriously lacking in the visual identity category. Unfortunately innovative businesses like Skype, who are supposedly launching holographic video calls in the near future, are inspiring in so many ways but also fall short in other categories. This list was made in 2008, I’m sure Spotify might crash into those top 10 soon.

What are the digital brands or platforms that you use and engage with that you would have liked to see make the Top 10 Digital Brands list?