Online branding

Online Branding in the 21st Century

I had a couple of interesting conversations at the seminar the other day, one in particular about the idea that I was ignoring branding and its importance. It got me thinking at the time and I wasn’t too sure how to respond. I have been thinking more and more about this concept of branding and how un-important it is compared to 20 years ago. I have a feeling that a lot of marketers are still thinking that families are all sitting together in front of the television eating their dinner together.


Family watching television together in the 1980’s

I used to do this with my family as we watched all of the sit coms together. I think its important to state that things might have changed just a little and marketers might want to just take a look at some of the changes in media consumption. There is more than just the television now and there is one emerging media called the internet that is making a big change. I personally prefer to surf on the internet than to watch ad infested television. I will watch a DVD or record something with Foxtel iQ rather than watch free to air television. I almost feel that watching free to air television is like the lowest rung when I want to be entertained. If I am watching free to air television I feel I am scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I was speaking with a client yesterday and I asked them if they have seen some of the latest things McDonalds were doing. They said, “No, I haven’t seen it because I don’t watch television anymore.” He doesn’t watch television? Have you noticed more and more people saying this these days. 20 years ago you would never have heard anyone say that they don’t watch television. Television was the way in which everyone connected and had something to talk about. We talked about the shows and watched them at the same time from our own homes. Because everyone was watching and all at the same time it made sense to just advertise then and cover everyone. It was a very smart way to advertise if you had the money because you hit so many people all at once. I found back then that I didn’t have much choice in what I could purchase because I only was provided with one medium television to choose from. All the brands that were shown on television were the brands I knew existed and so I would make my limited selection from them. The situation now is that I can go onto Google and type in a type of product and be presented with a whole host of different choices. I couldn’t care if I knew of the brand or not because I will just read the reviews of someone else who has purchased this product before. I don’t have to listen to one medium I can just get the information I need myself.

This change in consumers being able to get more choice and information more easily has dramatically changed the way in which consumers purchase. If you remember everyone sitting together watching television, think of what you do now. Before you make a purchase or go somewhere do you find yourself going online to get more information? When you go online do you get more choice? As the consumer gets used to using even more advanced forms of this process (e.g. reading reviews, writing reviews and rating products/companies), I think you will see branding become even less powerful. The key now is more niche targeted products and services which were not possible before without the internet.

Where do you think branding is going?

Online branding

Brand vs Search ROUND 1

This is going to be an ongoing debate and saga between brand vs search.

I have noticed more and more a great divide and saga developing between search engine marketers and brand managers. Each person has a valid concern and a worthy challenge although sometimes their suggestions conflict.

Search engine marketers objectives
1. Get to the top of the major search engines
2. Drive as much traffic as possible from the search engines
3. Modify the company website to be as search engine visible as possible.

Brand Managers objectives
1. Build and promote the brand.
2. Mantain the integrity of the brand
3. Use the brand awareness in peoples minds to influence purchasing decisions at time of purchase.
4. Modify the company website to promote the brand and stay within the brand message.

Conflict 1. Homepage Title and content

A search engine marketer wants to populate the title and homepage of a company website with keywords that they are targetting to improve page relevance. A brand manager wants all the copy on the homepage to be within the brand guidelines and promote the brand personality.

The conflict occurs in that the copy that a search marketer would use is not going to read aswell as if it wasnt search engine marketed. That a particular word or keyword appears over and over doesnt do your page much good. On the other hand if there is no search marketing of the homepage copy the site will not rank aswell in the engines and the brand will not be promoted as much.

Online branding

What works well online

I have lots of questions and thoughts about what companies actually work online. My answer to this is really based upon objectives and definition of what you mean by works.

Products that work well online are usually ones that dont need to be seen or felt or touched or tried on etc.. low human interaction is required. Good examples of this are:

  • Books (Amazon)
  • Computers (Dell, newegg.com, techbuy)
  • Credit cards (Virgin Money)
  • Pharmaceuticals (www.yourchemistshop.com.au)
  • Flowers (Roses only)
  • gift baskets (www.thebasketcase.com.au )
  • Insurance (HCF, NIB, NRMA, QBD)
  • Real Estate (realestate.com.au)
  • Cars (carsales)
  • Second hand goods and auctions (ebay)
  • Music (mp3.com.au, hmv, virginmega.com)
  • DVD rental (netflix)
  • Mortgages (aussies, wizard)
  • Software (sourceforge)
  • Newspapers (news.com.au, smh, ninemsn)
  • Dating (rsvp, match.com, lavalife)
  • Pornography and sex toys (… too many .. adultshop)
  • Gambling (Pokerparty, Betfair)
  • Perfume
  • Jobs (careerone)
  • Stock trading (etrade, all banks commsec, westpac, st george)
  • electronics (xbox, tvs, dvd, cameras)
  • Digital photo processing
  • Travel (lastminute, expedia, .. too many.. this is huge.)
  • Internet access
  • Web hosting (Webcentral, ozhosting)
  • Jewellery
  • Swimwear and lingerie
  • Games (Software and real life)
  • Free stuff (emailcash)
  • Distress inventory (lastminute,Overstock)
  • Cosmetics (strawberrynet)
  • Ringtones and other mobile (blueskyfrog, jamster)

There are many more categories and many more to be added.

Some key criteria which I think work well are but are not necessarily require to be together:

  1. Customer need information about the product
  2. Customers are price conscious if you have the best price online customers will buy it.
  3. The product is digital in nature or primarily based on technology
  4. The product is information. Reports, ebooks etc..