Internet brands or brands on Internet?
The advent and use of Internet has really changed the way business is done. Businesses have become smarter with increased technological development.
The business potentials of the Internet which is characterized by the semantic features of web 2.0 has given birth to web-applications that help small businesses grow with high scalability than ever. The Internet has suddenly become a veritable tool of marketing communication for businesses.
The high level of interactivity on the Internet between service providers, product manufacturers, advertisers and publishers has also emphasized why the Internet is a choice medium. More importantly, relevant information is now at the fingertips of any Internet- savvy professional or entrepreneur. Trillions of intelligent, connected objects are generating more information than at any other time in human history. More than 43,000 gigabytes of data per day (ibm.com/analytics).
For brands to use this medium effectively, their motive of getting online must be clear and focused. e-branding is different from offline branding, this is true because successful offline brands are not the leaders online, and hence a mapped- out strategy is required for building brands on the Internet.
Businesses online are either Internet brands or brands on Internet. An Internet brand is a 100% web-based business like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon and others; they have established their presence and leadership online with great brand essence. They solely depend on the web to make sales, while brands on the Internet are offline businesses that have online presence. This is where majority of Nigerian businesses fall. It is quite unfortunate that there is yet no Nigerian brand that is an Internet brand; we should be able to have an Internet brand that is universally accepted. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this which will form a discourse soon on how to build Nigerian online brands.
The heart of e-branding
The center of e-branding for businesses is their website. It is important for you to know that your website represents and should reflect your business. How your website looks determines how people will look at your business. In my consulting job for businesses, I have seen many that want to establish their strength online without considering having a good website, they want their website designed anyhow. Such thing reduces the strength of their brands without them being aware.
The concept of your website must either be a sales website or a portal. The overall functionality of your website depends on how it is designed and hosted. The design of your website should be simply, easy to access and navigate through within few seconds.
Tips for your website
–Choose and register a good domain name (I encourage Nigerians to start using .ng domain extension which is our country top-level domain).
-Host your website with a good web hosting company.
-Make the design of your website simple enough for users.
-Incorporate applications that engages your prospects on your website
-Add fresh and relevant keyword-rich content to your website to improve your e-visibility with the search engines.
-Use offline and online methods to drive traffic to your website.
-Learn how to use search engines to market and promote your website, this is known as search engine optimization (seo).
One of the winning strategies you need to adopt is to differentiate your business from your competitors’ by emphasizing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In online branding, USP is regarded as ultimate
advantage of your business, senstional offer you give them and the powerful promises that back up your offer.
Emphasize on the main benefit people will derive from your product or service, which they could not get from your competitors. Ask yourself the question, what will people get from this product or service am offering them? Make a comprehensive list of all that comes to our mind. Analyse the features of your product or service and turn them into benefit. Then always build a list of your customers so you can market your brand to them regularly.
Use the concept of viral marketing to promote your business. Create opportunities where people spread the word about your brand through e-books, softwares, articles, viral applications and word-of-mouth.
Another important strategy is the use of social media like facebook, forum and others to promote your business. These websites have applications that can help you market your brand effectively while interacting with your prospects and also engaging them.
How friendly is your business with the search engines?
Search engines like Google are good places to promote your brand. In fact, the battle for online branding is won and lost with the search engines. If you can position your brand strategically with the search engines, you will gain from the enormous traffic passing through them. Through search engine optimization, your business becomes a leader in your niche market so that each time someone searches for products or services you offer, your website will appear on top search result.
In conclusion, advertise your brand online for more visibility, the strength of any brand lies in its visibility to the target audience. For an effective online advert, ask yourself the following questions,
-Who are my target audience?
-Which website do they visit?
-How do I attract them with my advert to buy my product or service always?
More importantly, get an expert to put all these to work for you.