Consultant at Infonic
03 September 2001 17:29pm
I read the branding messages with interest, particularly because I work for an online marketing and communications agency.
My issue with branding online is the fact that everyone 'navel gazes' about Web sites and don't consider the external Internet (the 'Exonet') for branding opportunities. Some brands don't even need a destination site (especially FMCG), but people produce them because they assume that these are the only solutions (and also because most new media agencies are really Web site designers).
When we look at branding in the 'real world', the product (if it actually exists) is only the final step. Adverts, promotions, sponsorship are all branding activities, therefore online branding should mostly be performed outside of a Web site with a view to the site being the final (and perhaps the most immersive) part of the brand experience. At the moment, most companies are confining themselves to the current range of promotional tools online (banners, interstitials, etc.) - however these are mostly transitory, offer-led and there are so many potential ways to get your message across.
To be effective as a brand online, your presence needs to exist in those areas of the Internet that reach your target demographic, the brand needs to be placed in context with its surroundings and have some kind of value chime or association that builds the brand.
That is the challenge for online branding - not what the Web site does. Because, when the dust settles, consumers are going to have more and more power in defining brands and associated values. Just as our Prime Minister and other Presidents pay significant attention to focus groups - so brands will also become increasingly insecure and be shaped by what the consumers think of them. Brand and consumer will end up with a symbiotic relationship where each relies on the other to help define it.
Anyway, those are my latest views on the online branding issue....
Consultant, INFONIC LTD
Tel: +44 (0)20 7490 8844
Multichannel Strategy Director at Specialist Holidays Group - TUI Travel
19 September 2001 12:28pm
Interesting post. I am sure that if you spoke to ad agencies they would tell you that the "brand" is not a product of all the marcomms that are put in front of the consumer. It is instead the idea of what the product is or stands for in the mind of consumers.
This is exactly the same for the online world, and perhaps where new media "agencies" have given clients bad advice - as you note. Like ad agencies in the late 80s, the solution to every problem seems to be a website!
Like you, I would like to see an agency approach that addresses the big picture and seeks to understand how consumers work/think/feel and make sure the brand integrates with this, not the other way around.
Has anyone done any work around this concept?
24 September 2001 14:49pm
We have, and that's why we can speak with a certain amount of authority on the subject. We're both an online research agency and also a communications agency - through the research we can find specific markets, customers and communities online 'to order'. Additionally, by analysing what they're saying, we can understand what they're looking for and how their needs can be met. After this we produce marketing and communications solutions in the right places, with the right audiences and transmitting brand values accordingly.
Thus offering a more comprehensive solution to the brand, for those companies that can see beyond 'a Web site', we can help them use their money more effectively through other sites.
+44 020 7490 8844
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