Brand building on the net

While the Internet has in many ways made marketing and branding easier, it has also introduced a number of complications — more exposure often leads to increased pressure to “get it right,” and keeping up with the competition has never been harder.

Julianna Davies is a blogger who writes about what students learn in a marketing MBA, and uses that knowledge here to really delve into the essential skills new entrepreneurs and business owners need to succeed. In this article she focuses on these and other issues.

Tips on Building a Brand Without Returning for an MBA

For many entrepreneurs and business owners, creating a branding strategy is one of the most fun parts of launching a new product while simultaneously also being one of the most stressful. Coming up with sleek logos and catchy icons is often harder than it looks. When done properly, branding can bring great success and notoriety; done wrong, however, it can be the death of even a really promising product. Most marketing experts recommend a slow and steady approach.

Research and careful adherence to a long-term strategy can be the difference between a campaign that flops and one that really catches on

Businesses should invest time at the front end to researching what their customers want, while also keeping tabs on those consumers even after a branding campaign has launched. In today’s ever-connected world, management is often as important part of the game as conception and introduction. Research and careful adherence to a long-term strategy can be the difference between a campaign that flops and one that really catches on.

Most of the branding problems companies face have to do with consumer interactions. Campaigns that are offensive to certain groups, that get lost in translation, or that disregard known market preferences or styles are some of the more obvious examples, but by no means cover the spectrum. Many of the more common missteps are more benign—not responding to comments posted on a social networking wall or Twitter feed, for instance, or overwhelming customers with offers and deals to the point of becoming a bother.

“The biggest mistake brands are making is the ready-fire-aim approach,” a 2012 report from the Content Marketing Institute found. “Many brands aren’t taking the time to map their content to buyer roles, personas and objections, and are just publishing scattershot content,” the report said. “Instead, brands need to make sure to plan content around the behaviours that they want to occur—generating conversions—vs. just publishing and hoping the leads come to them.”

Falling in line with whatever is “trendy” can also be a trap, particularly online. Online trends come and go. Hitching a branding wagon to something that has worked for someone else in the past can be a risky move. If the popular adopted method does not adequately represent the product or service being offered, it can be a disaster.

“Brands are wonderful assets when they capture the essence of a product, service, or event succinctly, meaningfully, and with endurance over time,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, wrote on the Harvard Business Review blog. “But when branding becomes a fad, it can reduce communication,” she said.

Communication is usually atop most branding experts’ lists of best practices. Ideally, communication should start well before a brand has ever been launched, but must certainly continue throughout marketing seasons and sales periods. Other tips to keep in mind include the following:

Start small, both when it comes to logo and product reach. It is always easier to expand later than to pull back when things do not work out.

Keep the larger landscape and “bigger picture” in mind, both when designing and implementing brand ideas. Always have a clear goal in mind.

Be prepared to be flexible. The market moves quickly, and the brands that succeed are usually those that are able to quickly adapt to changed circumstances and needs.

Leverage technology, but do so smartly. Simply setting up a Facebook page or pushing branded tweets is rarely to garner the right kind of attention, whereas investing in a reasoned social media strategy can bring great returns.

Launching a successful branding campaign is never an easy endeavour, but neither is it impossible. Studying up on possible missteps and committing to make branding a long-term strategy, not just a one-time decision are two of the best things new companies can do to get things started off on the right foot.

Julianna Davies is a writer and researcher for Feel free to check out more of her writing!