The Difference Between Building A Powerful Online Brand Or Building A Powerful Brand Online Essay, Research Paper
Building a Powerful Online Brand? or Building a Powerful Brand Online?
By, Kim Anderson
Building a powerful online brand is different from building a powerful brand online. The Internet is seen as a new marketing model, especially for direct marketing. Although it offers exciting potential for marketing communications (MarCom), it can rarely stand alone as a brand-building tool just as direct marketing cannot. Companies should utilize the Internet as a marketing mechanism, not the marketing mechanism, and strategically fit it into the overall MarCom mix. Many marketers are separating the Internet from the MarCom mix, forming independent e-marketing or e-communications divisions and/or strategies. MarCom guru, Don Schultz, refers to this as “disintegration” and sees it as a grave mistake . Schultz urges Marketers to integrate instead of isolate the Internet as a marketing communications medium.
The Internet alone doesn’t build mass brand awareness. It simply can’t match the impact of the other mediums that reach millions of people at the same time like a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. Of course, it doesn’t cost nearly as much either. It is also hard to establish a universal meaning for a brand on the Internet, like GE’s “We Bring Good Things to Life.” Why? Web advertising is still low in quality and impact. Current technology makes the Web limited in format, which constrains the quality of Web advertising, and the ads are too easily ignorable.
Still, making the ads larger and more entertaining in hopes of greater impact can have a negative effect because they often annoy consumers. Keeping in mind that Web marketing entails placing ads on other companies’ sites, consumers may find it infringing to see ads on the hosting site they’re viewing. Web ads must be carefully balanced to entice consumers and not annoy them. At the company’s site is where greater creativity showcasing Web designers’ skills can be released without consumer resentment. With a lot to view in a small space on Web ads, MarCom specialists need to take the appeal of print mediums, combine them with the pizzazz of television ads, add a splash of Web designer creativity pitched at a particular consumer segment and create an impacting and quality Web ad. That is made easier with emerging technologies that allow for animation, higher quality sound, and quick uploading times.
In the digital world, consumers control ad exposure because Web ads are easily resentful. Marketers have a challenge in getting consumers to click on their ads; only 21 percent of Internet users polled said they never clicked on Internet ads, an another 51% said they clicked only rarely.
Using Web ads with the infrastructure of the Internet today as a branding tool cannot be achieved by Web ubiquity either. Amazon.com and Priceline.com seem to be everywhere on the Interned and still they both heavily rely on other mediums to achieve a strong online brand. In fact, they are probably among the most recognizable online brands to date.
Most branding efforts are conducted offline because they’re proven more effective. Dell is one of the largest ad spenders in tech trade magazines and runs a $100 million-plus branding campaign almost entirely on TV. Dell hopes to conduct 50% of all transactions online and contends that it can’t generate that kind of volume with Web advertising . Cisco Systems opts for full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and 30-second commercials rather than Web Banners, and ironically almost the entire Internet runs on Cisco’s systems. Cisco’s branding statement (or branding question) is “Are you ready?” and it’s seen much more offline than on the Web.
Conventional marketers are adding the Web as an enhancement to their more traditional communications media, which would please Don Schultz who as mentioned thinks it’s a dire mistake not to. Traditional marketing masters strategically wed the pitch and impact of traditional brand marketing with real services offered online. For example, television commercials point viewers to the company’s Web site, which in some cases offer a lot of help and little hype . Procter & Gamble turned Pampers.com into the Pampers Parenting Institute, addressing concerns of new or expectant parents. They’ve embraced the idea that the Internet is more effective at customer communication and relationship enhancing than as a branding-tool.
In the book, the 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding by Al and Laura Ries, they state, “a brand in the physical world is not the same as a brand on the Internet.” Although I agree that seeing the Internet as just another media source is a mistake, I disagree that ‘defining the same brand for both the Internet and the physical world of businesses doesn’t work.’ They base their opinions in the fact that online companies sometimes surpass their dominant bricks and mortar competitors in market share and sales volume, or even in brand recognition, but they’re not always comparing apples to apples. For example, dominant media companies like the New York Times, ABC, and CNN do not hold the same position as Yahoo, but Yahoo is much more than a source for news. Yahoo’s customers use dozens of their other services like free email and online maps, things the dominant media companies don’t offer. Comparing Yahoo with these other media sources is more like comparing apples to apple pie alamode (yahoo maps is the alamode). Yahoo as a news source cannot compete with ABC or CNN, but as a portal for consolidating online information it’s in a whole different arena.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been the most profitable auctioneers in the world for over a century, yet eBay is the most successful auctioneer on the Web. They all have powerful brands, they’re all in the auctioneering business, but do they really compete? Christie’s, Sotheby’s and eBay serve a different clientele. Whereas eBay markets themselves as technology driven with a sense of Internet security, one tends to think of thrifty bargains or garage sale, or used items online. On the other end of the auctioneering spectrum Christie’s and Sotheby’s tout themselves to the upper classes, or those who appreciate fine art. Christie’s has only begun entertaining the idea of selling goods online. Sotheby’s opened their online auction site in hopes to revive their company . What does this have to do with branding? Consider the implications for Sotheby’s or Christie’s to compete directly with eBay. Will their marketing strategy include targeting the same consumers as eBay, or do they plan to mirror their brinks and mortar image online? If they mirror themselves online then they’re not directly competing with eBay and their strong elite brand will not be jeopardized, or tainted by association.
Carrying over the established bricks and mortar brand is possible if other mediums like commercials or print ads point the consumers to the company’s Web site. If the online company is not a mirror of the offline company, then a new branding position needs to be established. Still, attempting to build a powerful brand using the Internet alone is not possible, or at least not proven to be possible. Companies should not segregate the Internet from the mainstream marketing activities. Shultz warns, “Companies who compartmentalize the new communications tools the Internet has brought about will not succeed as fast in building a strong online brand as those who integrate it.”
***”New Media, Old Problem: Keeping MarCom Integrated”; Marketing News; Chicago; Mar 29, 1999; Don E Schultz
***”Branding on the Net”; Business Week; New York; November 9, 1998; Ellen Neuborne and Robert D. Hof
**”Web advertising and the branding mission” Upside; Sep 1998; Jeffrey O’Brien
**”Boom or Bust?”; Advertising Age, Nov 1, 1999, pp.1,52
**”French firm puts Renoir under the virtual hammer” Nov 29, 1999; Reuters http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/1999/47/ns-11790.html
**”Sotheby’s gets wired” Jan 19, 1999; Margaret Kane http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/1999/2/ns-6691.html
**”Sotheby’s hammers out online auction plans” Feb 19, 1999; Jane Wakefield http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/1999/7/ns-7027.html
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