By Michael Bloch
"Branding" is the often subliminal process by which a business employs marketing strategies to get people to easily remember their products and services over a competitors'...essentially, it's applied psychology.
Burger branding and you..
As a child, I was introduced to a relatively new hamburger chain that had begun in Australia. I still visit that burger chain regularly 26 years later. Not a lot has changed over those years in regards to this particular company and I guess that's one of the reasons that I am still a customer. I know each time I walk into that establishment what I am going to have, where everything is and God help them if they ever remove the item from the menu! Even if they radically changed the decor, it would make me nervous. Many millions of people around the world would feel the same...... over 1 billion brainwashed daily !:0)
One of our major supermarket chains has a habit of occasionally moving products around in their stores. It works well for them as it increases sales. "Branding" customers who usually seek out particular products are exposed to other items as they hunt for their favorites. However, it's a highly annoying tactic and only works in this situation because the supermarket is very competitive in pricing and range of products. In other offline/online business environments this strategy would not work, and may actually cause a loss of sales.
Changing your web site branding - be cautious..
After having worked in management of another major fast food chain outlet, I learned that once a company has established a presence and become successful, any changes to operation must be carried out extremely carefully. Our patrons became very attuned to the company, they were a part of it. Their perceptions and opinions needed to be taken into account every step of the way, and not just in regards to the products.
We have succumbed to the branding experience - it makes us feel
Branding isn't just about logos, it's the entire "feel" associated with a company. In these days of bleeding edge technology and rapid change, people still enjoy going to places that follow a pattern of operation - it provides a sense of security. This is becoming more important as time goes on and our world, generally speaking, becomes increasingly unstable.
Branding consistency very much applies to our websites. Your logo should appear on every page, your domain name and one line blurb contained in every email, your theme consistent throughout your site. Granted, quality content is king, but it's important that visitors remember where the content came from. Branding establishes recall abilities of your site.
Dare to be different in your branding
Branding is not only about constants, but individuality..
In order to brand something, it needs that special something to make it stand out from the rest. Big business understands how important this is and they protect their branding elements ferociously. Next time you are looking at a Coke can, check out the legal statements - even what the company calls the "dynamic ribbon", which is basically just a curved line, is trademarked. The multi-nationals go to the extent of hiring companies to search the Internet for trademark violations. When these trademark violations are found, legal action rapidly follows.
Keep branding simple
Think about the most popular brands in the world. Who springs to mind? Now try and recall their logos. Chances are that golden arches, red cans, perhaps even a shell spring to mind - all very simple concepts. Note: as modern business evolves, it's becoming increasingly difficult to develop very simple logos - a few lines and shading might seem like a simple task, but chances are that the logo you settle on may look like someone else's, so it's important to research well.
Test your new web site logo on associates, even total strangers if you can. "Flash" your logo at them, a quarter of a second at most - then ask them what they remember about it, better still, get them to draw it. If they can't reproduce the essence of the logo, you're probably on the wrong track.
Keep branding safe
The online age has broken down international barriers. It wasn't too long ago that small business would tend to cater to a specific geographic demographic. For many of us the current business environment now allows us to easily reach consumers around the world! This also creates cultural challenges. In choosing a web site logo, you need to ensure that the very powerful symbology you have chosen doesn't amount to an insult to another culture - especially if that culture is one of your target markets!
Colors and branding
If some one told you that they were going to establish a hamburger franchise and the logo color scheme would be red and yellow, you would probably think they were insane. Red tends to signify danger and yellow is purported to be the most annoying color of all. But try telling McDonalds that.....
But having stated that, if you are just in the planning stages your site, I suggest that you do be careful in your choice of navigation, logos and color schemes. If your site is established with a good traffic flow and you are considering revamping it, it is of the utmost importance that you consult your visitors first via some sort of survey before any radical changes are made. Otherwise the many hours of hard work that you put into the upgrade, as well as the hours invested in developing the original theme, may be lost.
.... along with your traffic.
Use Branding to Increase Your Market Share
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