|The 10 rules of Internet Branding
Mike Druttman, Copywriter
Anybody planning to put a web site online should take a step back and consider what’s happening in the Internet environment.
Rule 1: Decide whether the Internet is a business or a medium
For some businesses, the Internet is a place to get information. For others it’s a place to close a deal. Having a ‘hybrid’ approach doesn’t work. The main question to ask is ‘What works on the Internet’? Some computer companies now sell almost exclusively on the Web, cutting their administrative costs in half. Others need to keep the physical contact with buyers. The point is that you need to analyze this point in detail in order to create the web site that can serve you best.
Rule 2: Interactivity is a vital part of web sites
The great advantage of the Internet is that it allows people to respond interactively: to search for information you specify; propose additional information base on your inputs; add your own feedback; handle complex pricing information (as in the case of online technical catalogs) and more. When you build your web site, you should look for ways to engage your visitors interactively.
Rule 3: Use a proper name, not a common name, for your domain
The name you give your web site (your ‘brand’) is important. Firstly, you should avoid common names or anything that suggests a broad category. Cables.com is bad but ControlCable.com is fine. Secondly, when using a proper name, look for ways to make it special and memorable. It should be short, simple, and unique. Often a shortening of the name, like Fedex instead of Federal Express, will work. Alliteration, like BlockBuster, improves memorability. Finally, the name should be speakable - which something like wbsandco.com obviously is not.
Rule 4: Do everything to be first in your category
On the Internet there is no second or third brand. Either you are first or you are nothing - and this applies as much to technical as to consumer fields. If you’re offering telecommunications infrastructure services, you need to make sure that you dominate your category. If that category is too large, then select a smaller sub-category. What’s important is to research on the Web where your site should be located, and not just ‘hope for the best’. Being No.1 in a sub-category is always better than being No.10 in a main category.
Rule 5: You’ll spend far more advertising off the Web than on it
Having picked a good domain name and built an attractive site, you’ll want to attract visitors to your site. But advertising online is not the way. People have the choice and they always choose to avoid the pain of advertising. Yes, Google and others offers PPC sponsored links (Adwords). But you have to be very focused and professional to derive real value from this activity. So you should implant your URL in many offline targets, and also use it in web-PR initiatives.
Rule 6: Your message is global and so are your opportunities
English is the dominant language on the Internet. When you publish your information on the Web, you expose yourself to a vast audience and to business opportunities that you cannot foresee. That’s why you need to make your site as accessible as possible to the widest possible audiences. Since we’re talking about a ‘global village’, you also need to keep Rule 4 in mind. Somebody, somewhere, will be looking for the products or services in your niche. Why not choose you?
Rule 7: Time is of the essence but you also need to take time
The Internet belongs to people who decide and act quickly - but also set their strategies first. We all want ‘top of the mind’ awareness for our brands, but this takes time and persistence. Many of the largest brand names on the Internet, like eBay, started over 10 years ago. They did not expect to be ‘overnight successes’. You should appoint a team of people to make things happen on the Web and set deadlines. Push forward, even if the site is far from perfect. Keep working and investing and you’ll eventually become No.1.
Rule 8: Don’t believe that you can do everything
One of the great failures of websites is trying to offer a wide range of products and services, believing that customers will pick what they want - as if at some buffet. Nothing is further from the truth. Information on websites should always be pitched from the user’s perspective, not the management’s. By applying Rules 1-4, you’ll keep to the discipline of defining your area of focus and not spreading yourself too thin. Leaders tend to self-destruct when they puff themselves up too much.
Rule 9: Divergence works, convergence doesn’t
Convergence is selling a device that’s a combined PC, DVD player and TV set. Divergence is selling each of these as a separate unit. Divergence follows the laws of nature, convergence does not. Technologies don’t converge, they diverge. That’s why, picking up on Rule 8, try not to embrace too many activities in your business proposition. You should not confuse what’s possible with what’s practical. It’s best to do a few things and do them well.
Rule 10: Internet is already transforming our lives
Being able to do so much online is having a profound effect on the way we run our lives. Large paper publications like directories, classified lists, catalogs and encyclopedias are shifting to an electronic format. Production costs are far cheaper and the information is always up to date. Many financial transactions are now done online: so the postal service delivers more parcels of goods ordered and far fewer letters and bills. Many businesses are using the Internet to grab attention and then invite visitors to their stores to ‘touch and handle’ the product before they buy.
About the author
Mike Druttman is a senior copywriter with great experience in Marketing Communications. He is still fascinated by the power of words and the voyage of discovery that accompanies each new client project. He’s based in Israel. His website is www.futureweb.ws