Online Branding for Your Small Business
An online business has a greater chance for success if those who buy
its products and services recognize its brand. A recognizable brand
also makes a business’s site more attractive to potential advertisers
and partners. Remember: Recognizable doesn’t necessarily mean
universally known. This idea simply means that a business’s brand will
increase its chance to compete successfully for attention and market
share in the appropriate space.
doesn’t take an expensive global advertising campaign to brand your
business. Branding can be accomplished through partnerships, direct
marketing, a robust Web site, and a modicum of good public relations.
Fundamentally, branding online is pretty similar to branding offline.
The palette is different because the medium is reduced to a screen
instead of a billboard or a print advertisement, but the opportunity
for messaging is the same. When a brick-and-mortar company takes its
business to the Web, an online brand usually serves as an extension of
its offline presence. Think of FedEx, AT&T, or CNN. For these
companies, their online brands reinforce or influence the preexisting
ideas about the company. On the other hand, Amazon and Yahoo have
developed brands that, for the most part, only exist online. Dotcoms
need to carefully execute their brands and remember that there are more
restrictions due to the constraints of the Web.
Your logo is a visual cornerstone of a company’s brand. Your company’s
identity is visually expressed through its logo, which, along your
company’s name’, is one of the main things that makes your business
memorable. Think of eBay, Google, and Yahoo. Each one of these
companies has a distinctive logo that a large percentage of people
would be able to describe without seeing.
Your domain name is also an essential part of your branding efforts.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to
find available domain names. While a URL certainly has to be unique and
easy to remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to relate to what you
sell in order to be successful. How does the name "Amazon" relate to
books and other products? Or "Google" to a search engine? These are
successful names and brands, but it’s a stretch to say they have
anything to do with the companies’ offerings.
Even if your business is an Internet-only venture, that doesn’t mean
you can’t brand offline. You can get offline brand exposure through TV,
radio, print advertisements, and public relations efforts. Remember, a
brand constantly reinforces a business’s identity, even that of
dotcoms. Most likely, you already strengthen your brand in ways you
don’t even think about: distributing business cards at trade shows;
sending invoices, letters, and holiday cards to your clients; wearing
your company’s logo on a T-shirt; and a variety of other activities.