Once you establish a company, branding is one of the most important things you can do. "Making a name for yourself" is more than a few billboards and commercials; you have to build up a reputation. If you want to become a household name, or anything close to it, a lot of hard work and dedication has to be put into your efforts. Nowadays, people are moving towards pull marketing as opposed to push marketing. Push meaning you're going to the consumer; pull meaning the consumer is coming to you. Naturally people see push methods as traditional ways of doing things, like using print. A lot of pull tactics are used online. More companies should now be focusing on pull branding, or online branding.
When people are unsure of a company name they've heard, rarely do they go to the phone book anymore. The main source of information now is searching for the company's online presence. If they don't have a presence, or you can tell they set up their profiles and left them to rot, you're less likely to engage any further with them. This is the 21st century; we're living in what I like to call the "tech times" and companies that aren't hopping on the bandwagon are being left in the dust. Here are a few reasons why online branding is important:
- You're being Googled: Maybe not just Google, but if someone is hearing your name, it's (sometimes simultaneously) being typed into a search engine. No website? No profile on social networks? More than likely, no customer for you. Even online, people are looking for established companies and referrals. If you're no where to be found, (in some cases) you may as well not even exist.
- You're building trust: People like to feel important. I go to my favorite Starbucks (which is coincidentally also the first Starbucks I ever went to) all the time because they make me feel important. They know my name and they know the drink I like. The same applies when customers are able to follow you or be your friend.
- You're expanding your reach: On the Internet, things go viral. You're not limited to your local reach; you can go national or even world wide if you want to. If you want people near and far to engage with your brand, establishing an online presence is important. It allows everyone access to your company.
- You're taking matters into your own hands: I'm sure by now you've heard of BP's run in with a Twitter user claiming BPGlobalPR and painting them in a (justified) negative light. Just think if you didn't have the proper online real estate for your brand. If someone else is portraying themselves as your company, the negative effects could be devastating. When you have your name, you have the power.
It's more than just doing what everyone else is doing. Branding has developed into more than some bumper stickers and a street team. You can still implement the same tactics, just using online tools.
Image via Wikipedia