Look at any successful company, be it a brick and mortar or an e-business pureplay, and there is one clear consistency: residual brand name recognition. The brand name sticks in your mind, and its usually accompanied by some sort of strong feeling. Branding is of growing importance in today's highly volatile Internet marketplace.
Firms are beginning to realize that having a respectable and recognized brand is a vital key to success. All companies realize that a brand is a necessity when selling a product or service, yet the question of how to create an effective brand is daunting - especially in an environment as competitive as the Internet.
Creating a brand is a job fit for kings. The time and effort required can initially appear overwhelming, and where to start is often the most difficult decision. First, it is important for a firm to create its set of official logos, slogans, etc. that will be used to accompany the brand in the marketing campaigns to come. Firms must choose a method for engaging potential customers (through search engines, newsletters, e-mail, etc.), and then budget marketing expenses accordingly.
There are a few basic steps any business can take to achieving basic brand recognition. The first and often most difficult is to create a customer base, or at least reach a number of potential customers in order to educate them about the brand. Through customer relations and interaction, a business can instantly create brand awareness. Brand awareness leads to recognition, which hopefully, in time, will lead to brand loyalty.
Internet branding is even more difficult than traditional branding due to the extent to which the user experience affects profitability and reputation. Companies must invest time into creating a website that is both easy-to-use and efficient. It is too easy for consumers to move to a competitor if they are at all dissatisfied with their experience. There are an abundance of considerations a firm must make when designing its site: context, content, customization, community, etc. If just a single page element is difficult to use, potential customers will click the back button and exit your site.
All industry leaders have engaged in some form of brand development. It is imperative for managers and webmasters to realize that this is a time consuming process, which quite often takes years to achieve. The key to success is having a developed business plan accompanied by a strategic marketing plan which breaks down the potential steps needed in order to achieve brand awareness, brand recognition, and brand loyalty. A common mistake in the branding process is that managers attempt to jump straight to brand loyalty. This jump often results in total business failure as a result of misappropriation of vital marketing assets. The ultimate goal of a firm when engaging in brand marketing is to create a loyal customer base (the key to business success).
The ultimate goal of a firm when engaging in brand marketing is to create a loyal customer base (the key to business success). An important note is that loyal customers tend to attract new customers through social interaction. When customers are happy with a product, they tell people about it. The opposite is true as well, and unhappy customers tell far more people about their experiences than do happy customers.
So obviously, satisfying customers is the key to customer retention, and customer retention is the key to profitability. Online firms tend to lack the commitment customers require when it comes to quick and efficient service. For every e-mail that goes unanswered, for every phone call not returned, it can be assumed that a potential customer - a potential source of revenues - has been thrown away. The key is that customer satisfaction is a function of brand efficiency. A good company with a successful brand would never throw away customers and does nothing to tarnish its brand name.
As with all business operations, the creation of a brand is an investment - one that takes time, money, thought, and often professional consulting. Although the short-term costs can be high, the long-run payoffs can be enormous. By investing in a solid customer base, one that is satisfied and vocal about that satisfaction they feel, a company is investing in its future, its profitability, and its reputation.