Building An Online Brand by prathy89

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									Big companies care about brands, small companies don't, and that is a
shame because any company that has aspirations of ever getting big,
better figure out how to build and manage their brand. You can get sucked
into all the hype about the latest social networking fad and waste all
your time and money following this week's Internet wunderkind or you can
get your head out of your digital butt and build a business from the
brand up.

Branding is simply how your audience feels about your company and/or
signature product or service. Your brand is your personality, your
identity, and every company has one whether they know it or not. One of
senior management's major responsibilities is to manage the brand, the
perception your audience has of who you are, what you do, and why they
should care. Major corporations understand this and use it to their
advantage, but companies that fall into the "I'm not General Motors"
category often ignore brand building fundamentals and satisfice with a
logo.

A logo is not a brand; a logo is merely a visual representation of your
brand, a visual mnemonic or reminder of what your company stands for in
terms of the emotional value proposition you offer. You can offer low
prices and more features, but if you don't provide some emotional or
psychological benefit you will never be able to create a sustainable
brand identity.

It Takes a Universe

Building a brand is like building a self-contained world, a universe that
has it's own cultural, ethical and aesthetic perspective, and an image
governed by a set of rules. Like any universe if you break the rules, you
cause problems. The creators of successful television shows are experts
in inventing brand universes. Programs like 'Star Trek' and 'Fringe' are
obvious examples of universes with their own set of rules that audiences
will accept no matter how outlandish as long as the producers develop
their plots within the context of those rules. Programs that meet that
standard become franchise properties and cash cows for their creators.
Successful corporate brands are no different. The best brands create a
world of their own with a set of guidelines that govern how and what they
communicate to their audience. Break the rules and you'll lose the
audience.

Your Website: An Opportunity To Create A Unique Brand Experience

The Web is an open business environment that provides every company, no
matter the size, with the opportunity to create a singular brand
experience. What better place to create a unique universe than on your
website, a self-contained venue that offers multiple communication
options?

Most of these communication tools are well within the financial and
conceptual reach of even the smallest company. Big companies with big
budgets can achieve brand identity faster but their mistakes and missteps
can also be more disastrous.
The great equalizer is your website, a venue that provides you the
opportunity to present yourself to the world and to build a brand
identity as impressive as the big boys, but you have to have an
understanding of what it takes, and the discipline to continually abide
by the rules you create.

Sticking to the laws of your brand story do not have to be limiting, in
fact, they can be downright liberating by allowing you to make better
decisions faster and with more confidence.

The Small Company Dilemma

Owner managers have their hands full running the day-to-day operations of
their companies; that leaves little time to worry about seemingly
esoteric marketing concepts like branding, but branding is one of the key
building blocks of controlling and managing a growing business. With all
the elements of a brand universe in place, everything gets easier, from
decisions on what to do about your website and mobile strategies, to what
message needs to be communicated in your advertising, to hiring and
managing staff.

Taking a step back can definitely help in moving forward, but the truth
is most entrepreneurs and management executives are neither expert in,
nor trained to develop a unified brand strategy. Finding an outside
advisor you trust that can translate your vision into a brand universe
complete with all the necessary components is critical to building a
sustainable company that will grow and prosper under a consistent well-
managed leadership team. Without an appropriate set of brand rules growth
companies can easily fall prey to departmental infighting and
destructive, petty turf wars.

Cultural Identity

There are many ways to define culture but for our purposes culture is a
shared set of attitudes, goals, and behaviors that define and identify an
organization. Corporate culture defines what makes your business
different from your competitors; it's what holds an enterprise together
despite personality differences and personal agendas. If everyone is on
the same page, moving in the same direction, decisions can be dealt with
in an orderly efficient manner. In short, corporate culture is a shared
vision and point-of-view that helps define and clarify your identity and
style.

Before you dismiss the idea of corporate culture as something of little
value to your organization think about the criteria you use to hire and
train employees, to develop customer service policy, and to design in-
store, website, and mobile experiences. Are they all in sync, all
compatible, all working toward the same goal, and all delivering the same
emotional value proposition to your interested publics?

Visual Identity

Traditionally visual identity is what most people associate with
branding. People understand they need a logo and maybe even a tagline to
go along with it, but all to often logo development is a stand-alone
exercise rather than an integrated approach to identifying and
representing what a company stands for. Alone a logo is just a
meaningless graphic symbol. The Nike 'swoosh,' the Kodak 'K,' or even
Starbuck's stylized mermaid mean nothing in and of themselves.

But even in the realm of visual identity, logos and taglines are not
enough. The consistent use of a corporate color palette, iconography,
language, typography, and even the look of the spokespeople used in
videos, commercials, and in print must all be delivering the same
consistent subliminal message.

Sonic Identity

If you're serious about branding you must consider Sonic Personality. In
an age of multimedia communication, sonic branding is the most
sophisticated, least appreciated, scientifically complex, and emotionally
charged communication tool you have at your disposal. Sonic identity
consists of audio logos, music, voice, and sound effects. Sonic branding
is the ultimate subliminal difference maker and you ignore it or misuse
it at your peril.

Intel spends millions implementing their signature sound logo that is
universally identified and synonymous with the company. Carmakers spend
small fortunes creating distinctive sounds for how their car doors shut,
and potato chip manufacturers create signature sounds for the crinkle in
their packaging.

The voice of the actor used, the music that accompanies the message, and
the sound effects that point to the key emotional moments of a video or
commercial are the difference between success and failure, the difference
between communication and noise. When people see the Nike swoosh, what
sounds-off in their heads is not swoosh but Nike; it's the sound that
sticks in the memory, the logo is merely a visualization of that sound.
Sound design may be the least talked about aspect of branding but it's
also the most sophisticated. Sound design is the next big thing in
branding, especially for Web entrepreneurs.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is simple: create a sustainable brand story built upon a
set of guiding principles and then deliver whatever you promise in your
emotional value proposition. Managing a business was never easy and
relying on ever-changing statistics and fad marketing solutions only
leads to continual strategic alterations, and that only confuses your
audience. By sticking to your brand-world-view you can fine-tune tactics
to adjust for market changes without having to rethink your entire
business philosophy.

								
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