The increased importance of online corporate branding
What is corporate branding?
Corporate branding is the practice of using a company's name as a product brand name. It is an attempt to leverage corporate brand equity to create product brand recognition. It is a type of family branding or umbrella brand.
Why is branding important?
As stated by an unknown author in the Africa News; â€œany marketer worth his salt knows that a strong brand influences consumer buying behaviourâ€ (2007). This indicates that you need branding in order to be able to influence the buying behaviour of customers to ensure ongoing success of you company. Without it, a company is at the mercy of coincidence when it comes to realising turnover.
Why is online branding important?
As the use of the internet is growing rapidly and more and more people turn to the internet as their main information source, online branding is becoming increasingly important for companies to reach their potential buyers.
Because the Web is a more "user-driven" experience and can loosely be described as a hybrid medium (print and broadcast), it poses some interesting branding challenges and opportunities. It has the potential to deliver the company's identity, products, service - the whole shebang - in the space of a few screens and within seconds. The company website is where the entire experience comes together for the user - or not. Make no mistake about it: the number of consumers who make purchasing decisions online is growing exponentially, and the launch of so many free internet service providers will only fertilize that growth. If a company can provide a positive experience for these users, they'll talk. And that language translates into dollars. If the users are confused or a corporate website fails to apply some of the basic methods below and they will be lost within seconds, too.
This applies to all companies, great and small. In both online and offline branding, it's about:
- how the customer is treated at the door (home page)
- what the packaging looks like and how it's positioned on a shelf (Web site)
- how the cashier treats the customer (navigation, online support, online orders)
- how the company handles complaints (returns, ease of contact)
- how a company positions itself as "trustful" and "credible" (a combination of the above, media treatment, etc.)
Online branding can prove to be very efficient and effective for product launches, but also for recruiting purposes and generation of ideas and innovation.
The increase of User Generated content on the Internet and the growing popularity of blogs, will also significantly affect corporate websites. Instead of just sending their message out into the world, companies will have to engage in 2-way communication with users and potential customers when deploying online branding.
- Availability of internet globally
- Increase in (digital) literacy
- Paperless office principles (or paperless homes)
- Increase of Internet for entertainment
- Increased popularity of blogs
- Increase in user generated content
- Copyright legislation
Online branding will replace traditional forms of branding rapidly.
User generated content will be equally important in buying decisions as company generated content.
Since 1996 various studies have shown the importance and effectiveness of online branding. Over the last 5 years online branding is increasingly becoming the most important information tool for customers.