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Online Branding

 

Prior to the arrival of the Internet, branding was most closely associated with images which evoked feelings and emotions associated with a particular brand of products or even a category of products like (got) milk. It was the type of advertising where one faced the dilemma noted by the famous Philadelphia department store pioneer, John Wanamaker “Half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.“? Babies were shown crawling around in tires to evoke images of safety, Coke associated its products with everything from celebrities to Polar Bears.


When such advertisements first appeared on television, they enjoyed a captive audience. People gathered round the television to watch one of the few television stations available at the time and most likely enjoyed the commercials, at least at first. The media world was relatively uncluttered, life was relatively simple and advertisements had far fewer competing messages than they do today.


During the era of traditional (i.e. non-Internet) media print, radio and television advertisements were distinct from the products they promoted. The impression or association was created away from the product, away from the store. Advertisers had control over what they wanted to say and who they wanted to show it to. The consumer didn’t have a choice. They could sit and watch televison and the accompanying commercials or not watch television. Branding and brand experience were two distinct elements of the consumer experience.


In traditional media, there is still some separation of brand advertising and the brand experience; you can’t buy from television commercials…yet. Online, there is rarely such a separation but most companies still haven’t realized this. Consumers now choose whether or not they want to respond to or even see advertising in many cases. Get relevant or get out is the message.


Because the the line between “branding” and the “brand experience” is essentially one and the same, marketers need to see their online advertising and their website as one experience that also integrates with search engines. There is no such thing as “branding” online as defined solely by an ad agency or in-house team running an online advertising campaign, though rich media may once again make this possible.


On the Internet, the touchy feely brand experience immediately connects with the website. A great online advertising campaign can work wonders if and only if the brand experience that results from the consumer interation with the website is equally delightful. A great online advertising campaign can crush a brand extremly quickly if the site does not deliver on the perception portrayed by the advertising campaing.


The same is true for search engine marketing campaigns. Many marketers still seem to think search campaigns exist in a vaccuum and wonder why they achieve less than stellar results from PPP search capaigns when the site does not reflect the explicit or implicit promises made by the copy in the search ad.

 

 

 

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