Branding is Branding, Offline or Online

My post about branding on Monday got me thinking more about branding.  Many of our clients get very concerned about what they should do for online branding. I don’t think online branding and offline branding should be treated as different types of branding. Here’s why…

You may think you don’t have an online brand.

Even if you don’t have a business website or an online branding strategy, you probably already have an online brand.  With publishing online being open to anyone these days, your customers are probably already talking about you online.  You might be surprised what you find with a google search or two.

You are no longer sole keeper of your brand.

Because it is so easy for people to communicate and write online, your customers can say whatever they want to whoever they want about your company and products.  Especially for expensive business products and services, people are likely to turn to co-workers and associates for opinions during purchasing decisions.

Offline branding impacts online branding (and vice versa).

Whatever you do offline affects your online brand (and vice versa), so managing online and offline should be part of one branding strategy.  Keep both in mind while putting together branding and marketing strategies.  All offline branding campaigns should include website addresses (preferably unique landing pages for tracking purposes).  Use online branding to

Your brand is constantly evolving.

With online and offline branding feed off each other, your brand is now in a continuous evolution.   Understanding how your brand is evolving should be part of your tactical, daily plans, so you can be a part of the evolution process.

The speed of change is increasing.

It used to be that you would have days to strategize PR to combat negative branding offline.  Now, you need to respond quickly online, even if it just to say that you’re listening to concerns and will address them soon.  Lack of response = negative branding.

The best way to approach online and offline branding is in one overall branding and marketing strategy because they are so intertwined.  Viewing them together will present opportunities for positive branding influence and keep you out of trouble.

What are your experiences with branding? Please share in the comments below.

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  • http://www.searchengineguide.com/ Rachel Phillips

    Nice post. Great to see you on Small Business Brief, too. :)

  • http://www.searchengineguide.com/ Rachel Phillips

    Nice post. Great to see you on Small Business Brief, too. :)

  • http://mainebusiness.mainetoday.com/ Carl V. Natale

    I’m misunderstanding something about the “contantly” evolving brand. Isn’t a brand’s purpose to deliver a consistent message about your product? If it keeps changing, what good is it?

  • http://mainebusiness.mainetoday.com Carl V. Natale

    I’m misunderstanding something about the “contantly” evolving brand. Isn’t a brand’s purpose to deliver a consistent message about your product? If it keeps changing, what good is it?

  • http://sazbean.com sazbean

    Hi Carl,

    A company can try to deliver a consistent message, but the brand is no longer owned entirely by the company. Everyone now has a voice in the brand, customers and non-customers alike, because it is so easy to get a message out on the Internet. The brand evolves through the involvement of everyone, regardless of whether the message has stayed the same from the company.

    Because of the easy access to quick and massive forms of communication on the Internet, a brand image can quickly become tarnished just from inaction. Jeremiah Owyang has a great post detailing examples: A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media.

    I think the important point is to listen to the conversation and be apart of it. Communicating with customers is an important tool to influence how your brand is viewed. I think having an idea of what your brand stands for will help in this communication (and the evolution), but it is also important to understand that your ideas may need to change slightly as the situations change. Being open to change and feedback can evolve your brand for the better.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  • http://sazbean.com Sarah Worsham

    Hi Carl,

    A company can try to deliver a consistent message, but the brand is no longer owned entirely by the company. Everyone now has a voice in the brand, customers and non-customers alike, because it is so easy to get a message out on the Internet. The brand evolves through the involvement of everyone, regardless of whether the message has stayed the same from the company.

    Because of the easy access to quick and massive forms of communication on the Internet, a brand image can quickly become tarnished just from inaction. Jeremiah Owyang has a great post detailing examples: A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media.

    I think the important point is to listen to the conversation and be apart of it. Communicating with customers is an important tool to influence how your brand is viewed. I think having an idea of what your brand stands for will help in this communication (and the evolution), but it is also important to understand that your ideas may need to change slightly as the situations change. Being open to change and feedback can evolve your brand for the better.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  • http://www.guerrillaRed.com/ Chris

    Great post.

    Branding is constantly evolving.

    Just to add on, I feel that the constant evolution is what actually makes it more fun and gives so much more opportunity. That message that had to be so consistent, now has a little flexibility thanks to user input right off the bat.

    At first it was all about engaging the customer, now they’ve almost flipped it entirely around and are engaging the brand and making it what they want.

    Just the way I see it.


    Chris
    http://guerrillared.com

  • http://www.guerrillaRed.com Chris

    Great post.

    Branding is constantly evolving.

    Just to add on, I feel that the constant evolution is what actually makes it more fun and gives so much more opportunity. That message that had to be so consistent, now has a little flexibility thanks to user input right off the bat.

    At first it was all about engaging the customer, now they’ve almost flipped it entirely around and are engaging the brand and making it what they want.

    Just the way I see it.


    Chris
    http://guerrillared.com

  • http://sazbean.com sazbean

    Thanks for your thoughts, Chris. Very interesting point about the engagement switching from brand to customer.

  • http://sazbean.com Sarah Worsham

    Thanks for your thoughts, Chris. Very interesting point about the engagement switching from brand to customer.

  • http://rainmakerwebsites.com/ James Shewmaker

    Sarah,

    I expect that Carl Natale’s confusion may be based in a misunderstanding of what a brand is. In talking with a lot of people, both in marketing and out of marketing, I find misunderstandings which are quite similar to the things expressed by Mr. Natale.

    Some people think that the the brand identity is the brand. Others that the brand message is the brand. Getting many people to grasp the concept of brand as referring to the overall perception of a company or of its products and services by the general buying audience is many times an uphill struggle.

    James
    http://rainmakerwebsites.com/

  • http://rainmakerwebsites.com James Shewmaker

    Sarah,

    I expect that Carl Natale’s confusion may be based in a misunderstanding of what a brand is. In talking with a lot of people, both in marketing and out of marketing, I find misunderstandings which are quite similar to the things expressed by Mr. Natale.

    Some people think that the the brand identity is the brand. Others that the brand message is the brand. Getting many people to grasp the concept of brand as referring to the overall perception of a company or of its products and services by the general buying audience is many times an uphill struggle.

    James
    http://rainmakerwebsites.com/

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  • ragulan

    Good post. Branding is same for online and offline. But the strategy might differ.

  • ragulan

    Good post. Branding is same for online and offline. But the strategy might differ.