The ‘brand’ new challenge

There aren’t
as many companies in India which do business on the net as there are in the
US. So the problem is not so widespread now. But the day is not far when Indian
companies on the internet will be grappling with the issue of branding, once
the penetration of PCs in the home increases. As of now, the few Indian
e-business sites are full of graphics and image heavy and take a long time to
download. Worse, these sites do not indicate where to contact in case of a
problem. Some do not even give telephone numbers.

What does all
this point to? Simply this: spending money on launching e-business is not
enough. What is equally important–perhaps more so than launching an
e-business is the need to build a memorable, positive brand image that
online consumers will be attracted to in the long haul.

Having said
that, it would help to remember that branding in the online world is
different. It is more than just transferring your print brand identity to
the web. Unfortunately, the web is full of examples of companies who use the
web as a brochure with heavy graphics and colors. While it is important to
have a graphic design image, a brand in the world of e-business is more
largely affected by the interactive experience provided to users. Since the
web allows to build a one-to-one relationship with your customers.

The key here
is the quality of relationships. The web site’s ability to engage
customers and facilitate an ongoing relationship with them is the real key
to successful branding on the web. With the web, once a customer gets put
off, the probability of the customer visiting that site is rather remote.
And unlike in the physical world where there is a probability of
accidentally seeing an advertisement, in the web world only a deliberate
click can take you there. And that’s the catch. In short, if it isn’t
done correctly, it hurts a company’s ability to gain and retain business
through this channel.

It would help
to keep the following in mind:

  •  Know
    your target audience:

    It is important that a web business determines who its best prospects are.
    Your best prospects in the physical world do not have to be the best online
    candidates.

  •  Make
    your online brand usable:
    As
    mentioned earlier, creating an online brand isn’t just about the design,
    overall look and feel, and a pretty logo. It is very much connected to and
    enhanced by a positive user experience and an intuitive navigation scheme.
    In most circumstances, users want to get in, find what they want
    (information, items to buy, informal chats and community-related
    interaction) and then get out, on their terms, whether that means two
    minutes, or two hours. E-businesses need to assess users’ impressions of
    how easy it is to navigate a site and find what they want. And, when a site
    is redesigned, continue to review whether the job has been done correctly.

Deploy
technology that creates a strong, unique brand definition: Do not fall for
the temptation of adding functionality to a site after seeing another site
that offers a ‘hot’ service or a feature. The decision to buy web
applications (there are hundreds of them that you can either buy or build)
should be based on the overall business drivers. For example, if you intend
to differentiate your organization based on personalized customer service,
make sure the self-service applications and user interfaces that you put in
place are designed to fit your users’ unique needs and are integrated with
back-end customer databases and "real-time" customer service
channels.

The most
important thing to understand is that a ‘web brand’ is
multi-dimensional. It is more than just a messaging and identity effort; it
is also the degree to which you ensure a positive user experience, optimize
usability, and incorporate technology that addresses key user needs and
leapfrogs the competition.

Latha
Kuttappan-Chandradeep.

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