Building the Brand You’ve Always Wanted

Picture this: Soon there will be more companies on the Internet than in the phone book. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a tad. Let’s just say that there will be a lot.

Now ask yourself this: What makes you different?

Yes, branding!

Doing business on the Internet isn’t as simple as it used to be. If you’re going to be a success, you’ll need to capture not only a sizable market share but also mind share. When consumers need what your site offers, your site’s name needs to be the first thing that pops into their heads.

The following tips are part of my road map to creating successful brands on the Web:

  1. Figure out the best way to position yourself. On the Internet, branding is the game. Start the process by identifying the unmet needs of customers when you pick the category you want to be in. Ask yourself what value you can add to the offline buying process or what infuriates customers about the existing buying process. With this done, feed their need! It’s easy when you know what they don’t like.

  2. Your domain name matters. In the case of a click-to-buy company, the name is paramount, because it needs to capture the image you present. Choose a name that is synonymous with the image of your company/product, and you won’t go wrong. Remember, make your name acceptable, global, and coherent.

  3. Image is everything. Your image and name need to coexist; they can’t be saying contrary things. On the Internet you need to concentrate on the graphical user interface’s (GUI’s) look and feel as well as the services you offer to bring your name and image into synergy. The goal is to drive home the spirit of your brand through the site design. So think long and hard about the image you want to present to your customers and make sure that everything you do, from the name you pick to the way you design your site, puts out the same message.

  4. Be visible. The most powerful brands can directly relate their success to the extent that they have made themselves seen. It’s the only way. If you find that television or other traditional media are not in your budget, relax! All isn’t lost — there is always radio. But you will need to work extra hard to establish links to your site from other high-traffic zones on the Internet.

  5. Build your customers’ trust, and always listen to them. People want freedom. When they visit your site they want to know that they have the right to choose which product reminders/newsletters to receive by email. For God’s sake, don’t spam them! Make the links to your privacy policy and terms of use as visible as possible so that customers don’t feel like you are trying to hide them. And if you use personal information, tell them why you do it, just as Yahoo does.

  6. Take your site to the people. Just as brick-and-mortar stores are concerned with customer counts, so should your e-commerce store. Build as many entrances to your site as possible. But choose them wisely, because they too will affect the way your consumer feels about shopping at your store. Word of mouth is going to be the single biggest draw factor to your site, so make sure that people know about you, and don’t let them down when they find you.

The final objective is to create a differentiated, ownable online brand and an image that embodies the essence of your business.

Last but not least, let me give you my definition of www.yourname.com:

World Wide Web . Your Name . Can Offer More.

And the only way your site will be able to offer you more is if it is visible and acceptable. So brand on!

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