Online Branding – In Cruise Control

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When we join a company as its employee, little do many of us know that we are treading on a path that makes us a major stake holder in creating value for our client’s, our colleagues, and all the social relations that we maintain religiously!

This value creation is one of the many businesses objectives that need to be looked at with an eagle’s eye, if success is what you desire!

So, apart from making great products and providing great services, how do we create value?

A relatively simple approach to it can be to carve out a reputation for yourself, primarily in your niche and then in your business sector. The Internet provides us with many tools to do;which in marketing terms we call BRANDING. Our previous post on Online Branding can give you a detailed glimpse on the various HOW? WHAT? and WHY? of this important value creation function.

Branding is an important business function that has to be focused upon to ascertain your business presence. Technology companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM understood this in their nascent stages of marketing and did their part of branding, due to which their products and services sell today like hotcakes. Towards the end of the 20th Century, companies restricted their branding to Billboards, TV Commercials, and Event Sponsorships to name a few. This was essentially a one-way mode of communication to the target audience. However in the wake of the 21st century with online technologies booming and the Internet providing fuel to this fire, consumer engagement and focus has changed drastically. Companies need to focus and adapt to this changing medium of communication. Their presence needs to be firmly grounded online.

Tools like SEO, SEM, and Social Media all play their respective parts in this closely knit online marketing environment.  But before starting with this, a base is required. This base comes in the form of your company website with eye-catching elements of design  embedded within it. Using this base SEO will bring in a relatively filtered set of potential customers; SEM will filter this set even further, but at a little higher price (Google is the bad boy here.) and Social channels will keep this set along with other potential consumers engaged with your business 24×7. All these play an important role in providing a business with a comprehensive branding strategy. The biggest advantage of branding using online tools and resources is that garnering reputation is not confined to the reach of big brands only. Many small and medium sized enterprises and Start-Ups get a stage to brand themselves at various stages and can continue doing so.

But simply indulging in internet marketing considering it as a one-time investment activity will reap little benefits. Once the fundamental questions about branding are answered, another big question crops up? How do I maintain Brand Value?

Branding like many other evolving functions is a continuous process. For example, Microsoft or Google with each product or service release make it a point to reach out to their audience to recall their memory about their brand over and over again. This continuous process is due to the fast paced nature of our online world. Brand value created over time needs to be sustained and moulded to meet the demands of society and stakeholders alike. This SUSTAINIBILITY of VALUE can happen effortlessly if employees also make it a point to help in branding of the company. This makes way for a very healthy outlook for the business and helps in meeting and exceeding stakeholder expectations.

Employees and marketers alike can work together, share their ideas to build the brand and thus sustain it.

Provided below is a brief walkthrough in which branding and value creation can be interlinked to create what is called Brand Awareness:

  • An employee of the firm knows the organizations products and services the best, and this knowledge just keeps on improving over time.
  • This expert information, keeping aside confidential company data, can be used to educate users in various ways.
  • Many consumers today spend time online throwing questions in specific forums, blogs, and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter etc. to make smarter and cost-effective decisions. Let’s face it; in most cases it all comes down to saving money!
  • Digital Marketers can collect this information from the consumers and ask that specific department in the company to provide their views on the same. It is just like an online Q & A session that many financial websites now-a-days do, with many users asking questions and an expert from that industry giving out answers.
  • The disadvantage in this Q & A is that only a specific person gets to interact with a group of users.
  • With collecting information from niche domains and asking employees to provide their insights, not only does the employee get motivated but also the Company is slowly becomes an authority in the domain and gains respect amongst its business community. This also engages the company to do its share in social responsibility for the better.
  • The word of 10 employees shared and distributed across various channels is much more powerful than one website talking alone. Think of it as a grapevine for spreading positivity for a company.
  • In many cases, if there are many similar questions being asked online about a particular topic, the company can make a detailed journal or document on it and host it, either on its own website or share it online. This document then needs to be leveraged in such a way that it benefits all the audience within that niche.

This responsibility of educating an audience and being engaged with the customer not only sends out a brand message but also creates opportunity for the business to grow and prosper. This is the beauty of using branding methodologies online. You are indirectly also putting out a sales message along with your marketing message thus redefining and co-linking the terms “Sales & Marketing”.

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