Developing A Brand

Want to generate loyalty online and off? Create a killer brand.

Coca-Cola. McDonald’s. Jaguar. Each name evokes a mini universe of things you’ve come to expect from them. Coke’s branding, for example, pervades its product quality, packaging, advertising, the look of its trucks, dispensers, and machines, and it has managed to successfully port its image online. Smart move considering online sales will reach $126 billion by 2004, according to an eMarketer report. Coca-Cola recognized early on that the Web would play an important role in not only cementing brand loyalty but also in attracting new customers to its product.

So what is a brand? “Your brand is the relationship you have with your customers,” says L. Kareem Geiger, founder and vice president of client relations at TechnikOne (www.technikone.com), a Charlotte, North Carolina-based digital branding firm. Geiger says branding answers the questions: What do people think of us? Who are we? Who are our customers? How are we extending ourselves in a relationship with them?

Adds Carrie Williams, owner of Williams Creative Marketing in Seattle, “Brand transcends your products. If your brand communicates effectively, it can bring a culture together, whether it’s an internal audience (the company) or an external audience (consumers).”

A company doesn’t create a brand just for the product or service it sells, it does it for the relationship and trust that go with it. “Brand has a lot of essence; it’s not just a graphic look,” says Patricia Belyea, president and strategic director of Seattle’s Belyea Marketing/ Communication/Design. “Brand is graphics, customer service, quality of product, and dependability of delivery. It is performance, not public relations.”

Marketing the Brand

One of the main benefits of the Internet is its cost-effectiveness when compared with other marketing methods such as direct mail, television, radio, print advertising, and outdoor ads. However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon traditional marketing methods, just that you should consider using online resources to enhance them. “We believe in a hybrid approach,” says Barry Cooper, CEO of the African American online community BlackVoices.com (www.blackvoices.com). “It’s important to market to consumers on the Internet and offline as well,” he explains.

Like BlackVoices.com, many companies have found that, while costlier than online advertising, traditional advertising is still the most effective way to attract consumers to their Websites. There are several reasons for this. But the main reason is that the Web is a relatively new medium that still doesn’t have the reach of, say, TV or radio. So the best way to reach the widest audience is to combine traditional with online media.

There are several ways to attract consumers online using both. Offline marketing gives consumers an opportunity to investigate your Website and get more information about your products and services. In this instance, it can be used to get the consumer’s attention and give him or her a chance to consider the product. The Website can then be used to set customers up for the sale by giving them the additional details, incentives, and buying tools they need. You cut spending costs by collecting data from those who visit your site and

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