Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Branding on Internet

How do you turn your Internet real-estate investments into a thriving Brand?
Make sure you have a strategic approach to reaching your customers.

Ask anyone to cite the strongest brands on the Internet. Google, Dell, Amazon.com, e-Bay, Yahoo! and America Online will top the list. The world's most famous brands Intel, Microsoft, HP, Cisco - high-technology companies with big commitments to the Internet will not make the cut. The most recognized brands on the Internet exist, well, only on the Internet itself.
In the early days of the World Wide Web, newcomers just elbowed their way in. They did not have advertising budgets - indeed, many did not have budgets at all. They survived on the buzz created first by Internet surfers, then by the media.

Fast forward to 2005: Businesses have discovered cyberspace. Technology giants Intel, Cisco, Microsoft have spent millions on Internet - to create a strong brand name & presence. While spending big bucks to create a strong brand name is feasible for established companies, small firms or startups have to innovate to create their brand name and a strong brand presence.
All companies, competing now against tens of thousands of Web sites, need more than a buzz to create a significant presence. Word-of-mouth is no longer sufficient to get the word out; Traditional advertising plays a large role. Television, radio and print have to be used to complement the web site.

Strong brands have to be seen everywhere, with their Web site featured on television advertisements, radio and stationery. Integrate all modes of brand communication with a sense of purpose to create a strong brand.


The cost of creating a Web brand is escalating quickly - ranging from $1.5 million to $3 million, according to Forrester Research. Competing with an established brand can push those figures into the stratosphere. Entrepreneurs may have to spend big but also change their brand-building strategies.


Most users today log on for one of two reasons: To get practical information such as the product detail or to shop. A survey conducted on the Web last year that 80 percent of the people logging on for information to a site said they would like to buy the products in future. Thus web presence creates a virtual sales channel.

The need to sell in cyberspace has challenged many industries. Some manufacturers have no experience in selling directly to customers online but see one-on-one relationships as simply invaluable. High tech services companies can secure future sales by using online presence as means to communicate with customers. Firms can send targetted message to their customers online.

Just providing exhaustive information about their products can help future sales of capital goods.Xilinx, for example provides extensive information on its programmable chips on their website. This helps to win mindshare of potential customers and thus capture and engage a large audience.


To succeed, the top levels of a company must know what they have always needed to know: what their customers want from a Web site. Successful companies know this. One common theme among successful executives is a genuine interest in what happens in cyberspace. They go into their own sites, and competitors' sites, on a regular basis.

"Everyone at this company spends a lot of time on the Internet,"said Mr. Parker of CDnow. "We know what's out there. The Net is not a part-time job; it's not something you just dabble in."
Successful Internet managers are obsessed with streamlining the process. They know how many clicks it takes to get the required information, and how long it takes them to respond to e-mail. Companies have to optimize the number of clicks for customers to get where they want to be. For Example, CDnow ran a test that measured exactly how many clicks it took to get online consumers to purchase. The group then worked on consolidating steps to eliminate the unnecessary work and got from 20 clicks down to 10. That gave an immediate competitive advantage.

While it is not easy or cheap, Yet to build brands in cyberspace, companies will have to let go of some of the thinking that has been holding them back. Senior managers must embrace the medium with gusto. They must realize that interactivity on the Internet does not mean a fun game, but sell-through marketing. They must become closely involved in all aspects of the company's Web strategy.

Point and Click Your Way to Success

  • The technology for building a Web site is the easy part; it's the strategy that makes many companies stumble. Here are a few guidelines for creating an effective Web presence.
    Make sure all senior managers are on board and intimately involved in the Internet strategy. The setup and running of the site may be centralized, or even outsourced, but executives should know exactly what the site is trying to do and how well it works from a practical standpoint. A site with glitches should not be allowed to launch, no matter how "cool"it is.
  • Make technological improvements slowly. This may sound counter-intuitive, but many in the Web universe have older computer equipment and software and need ease of access more than they need bells and whistles.
  • Guide customers to information quickly. Every extra click needed - and the concomitant delay - presents a chance of losing the customer.
  • Leverage existing expenditures on brand-building as much as possible. A corporation's Web address should be listed on television commercials, stationery, shopping bags and receipts. Sales people should recommend the Web site to customers.

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