Branding on the Web? Go Beyond.

When speaking about marketing many people want to talk brand.  What is the look and feel of the organization?  How do we build brand awareness?  While branding is a useful tool these questions are frequently too simplistic or not measurable enough to be used as a measuring stick for e-marketing.  The truth is that branding is often an intangible.  Surveys and questionnaires can be used to support whether it’s being established but at the end of the day branding won’t sustain a business.  Branding should be a beneficial side effect of online marketing, not the goal.

I believe in a branding percentage.  Branding activities can only go so far in shaping client’s and prospect’s opinions of an organization.  Marketing branding will make up between 20 – 50 percent of their overall opinion, depending on the level of involvement and size of the organization.  Most of a client or prospect’s positive or negative thoughts will come from interaction with company representatives, otherwise known as people.  People make a significant portion of a brand.  Marketing won’t put a positive spin on a terrible company or a negative spin on a great company.  It’s influence becomes more valuable to the vast majority of companies that fall somewhere in between.  Why do I bring this up?  To show that branding is a challenging and time consuming effort that may or may not have an effect on the intended audience. While branding might not be dead it won’t have the impact of a permission marketing or next step marketing system.

The Internet is tailored to next step marketing.  You can guide people to exactly what you want them to do.  Hyperlinks and forms make that easier to do than any other media can.  The benefit? Rather than having a site that “someday” people will internalize and want to engage, you have an opportunity to generate sales and leads.  Don’t get me wrong, branding shouldn’t be ignored.  You should use your organizations logo and color scheme.  You should use a professional layout with content that supports the core mission.  It’s just that these branding principles are a staring point, not a goal.  A goal is concrete, easily defined, and measurable.  “I want my site to support my brand” is a prerequisite.  “I want a branded site that generates 15 leads a month” is a goal. 

Don’t get too caught up in branding.  It needs to be understood and supported but not labored over.  A good next step marketing plan will brand your business.  It will also provide the added benefit of increasing the bottom line along the way.

– Eric

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