So you've made the decision to invest in an Internet development. Before developing your application, you need to consider how you are going to create and manage your company's online brand image.
Many people are still sceptical of the benefits of the Internet. When venturing online, customers look for the same assurance they would find in a physical environment: the credibility and legitimacy of a well-known brand name.
It is therefore vital to communicate your brand online in a way that maintains your brand credibility.
Online branding will be discussed in more detail in future articles. But the following basic pointers outline the broader considerations.
1. Make your site accessible
Have a World Wide Web (www) address that is easy to find. While users new to the Internet will use search engines, more experienced users will simply type in an address that approximates the name of company they are trying to locate. You need to cater for this.
Register all variations of you company name, especially if your company name is shortened in commonly used forms.
2. Convey your brand identity
Consider how to use your company identity on the site.
Communicate the personality of your brand in the look of the site, in the written content and by the online services you offer.
3. Deliver on your brand promise
Create a synergy between your online and offline services - your site is an integral part of your business. You need to deliver online at the least what you deliver offline.
4. Create a brand experience
Every time a user interacts with your site, they are experiencing your brand. "Page not found" reports, non-functioning links and sloppy writing, for example, will influence the user's perception of your company as a whole. It is worth investing time and resources to ensure a good brand experience.
5. Handle external content with care
If you have external content and links on your site, make sure the content is legitimate and of a high standard. Online users do not differentiate between the information from your site and what they have accessed via a link on your site.
Becoming a trusted source of content is a very powerful pull factor in drawing traffic to your site.
6. Promote your site
Promote your site on letterheads, business cards and in your everyday actions with your clients.
Despite the fallout, IT is the way of the future. The more your site is promoted now, the more sustainable your advantage in this area will be in the future.
Branding has been identified as the only true differentiator in the online environment. Take the time to identify what you want to convey to your users, and invest in creating a brand experience for your site. The investment will enhance your company image both online and offline.
Linda Ravenhill joined the IT industry in 1997. She has since become a respected expert in IT marketing, with extensive experience ranging from e-commerce to e-CRM. She founded Digital Exception in 2000 and together with business partner Elena Douvos, the company specialises in taking physical business into the online environment, offering the full spectrum of online services. These include strategy, IT development, community management and online marketing.
For further information contact 011 478 3232, or email .
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