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Posted by steve on March 6, 2011 at 4:15 am

As a consumer when one thinks of business branding and because our brain thinks in pictures,it is likely that that we see the company’s logo or maybe an image of the product.  The Coke logo or a Coke bottle, whichever it is they don’t mind, their marketing has entrenched itself into our psyche.

When less established or startup businesses think about branding they typically thing about their logo .  However the
logo is just a part of a much larger strategy, and the logo only truly becomes important based on the effectiveness of the broader marketing strategy .  Nobody buys because you have a nice logo, but your logo is a friendly face in the crowd once you have gained the trust of your market . 

Today the business marketing landscape covers both the offline and online worlds, and online there are further new worlds developing that can further complicate a business marketing strategy.  Social media and Web 2.0 offer new and innovative ways for the savvy business to connect with new customers and build relationships with their existing customers. It is the need for a portable identity across these many new worlds that has brought back to the fore the concept of branding and identity.

Initially social media grew based on an almost anti-business bandwagon.  Generation X like those before them wanted ways to build their communities and identities separate from the establishment and that establishment included the household brands that typically sold to them day in day out on T.V .  Many businesses wadedinto Web 2.0 with an old world sales mentality and got burned. 

People still love to buy but they don’t want to be sold to and companies have to follow new rules .  Social media offers a huge opportunity for business but only if those businesses entertain, create buzz, give free help and advice, and generally take part in the community as if selling was the last thing on their mind.  Then by building trust and getting over that inherent mistrust of businesses online, people will become to value your brand and buy from you.

All that said, a business’ identity online has to be associated with this buzz.  The fundamental prospect capture channels such as autoresponders etc carefully set in wait to grab the prospect.  Any momentum carefully built up over time in social media can then be traced back to its source.  That means the brand and aspects of the brand such as the logo.  Also that branding and presence must blend offline and online .  If someone sees you offline and goes online they should find the experience visually seamless.

One good example of combining offline and online branding is when a business runs a corporate event such as a corporate golf event to engage with their existing customers.  They use the day to re-enforce that relationship, demonstrating the qualities that the customer likes to see e.g. attention to detail, smooth running of the timetable etc. They give out suitable and good quality promotional golf gifts with the company branding. Then using online tools to add to that relationship such as branded corporate Facebook and Twitter pages for keeping people up to date on the event and also showing content from the event possibly in real time.  Also branded YouTube videos published to the company’s own YouTube channel can show content coming out of the day and includes opportunities to display your branding such as logo golf umbrellas in use on the day if it was a corporate golf based event.  Also general PR gain due to online recording of offline events can be excellent.

In conclusion using social media techniques is not like direct mail it takes careful strategy but old fashioned branding techniques still apply.

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