As a Technical Writer, I helped companies establish and maintain documentation that adhered to the branding guidelines in place for that company. Over time, customers become inured to a particular look and feel for the documentation they encounter from different companies. Oftentimes, it’s not even something we acknowledge on a conscious level. We just ‘know’ that documentation associated with IBM looks….well it looks the way it looks. The design and composition of their documentation is consistent. The Logo always looks the same. The placement of items on a page looks the same. Even the tone of their documentation is consistent. All of these factors contribute to a very real level of familiarization that customers feel when they have dealings with that company.
Breaking it Down
Website Branding, or just branding in general is basically the same. It’s all about establishing and adhering to a specific set of guidelines that will help give your website a signature look and feel. I like to break terms down into their component parts in order to better understand terminology, so let’s start with the term brand. The primary definition of the word brand is “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name,” (for example, “a new brand of detergent,” would be considered typical use of the term brand). Synonyms listed for the word brand include line, label, marque, type, kind, sort and variety. Okay I admit that it’s at least a bit annoying to be so simplistic, but if you stop and think about it, it’s helpful to break terminology down like this to help us better understand it. Especially when these days terms are coming at us so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. In fact, Wikipedia doesn’t even have a listing for the term Website Branding. They do, however, define Internet Branding as ‘a brand management technique that uses the World Wide Web as a medium for positioning a brand in the marketplace’.
Branding in Today’s Landscape
So we’ve established that a brand is the concept of a specific product or service that consumers can identify (for example by the name, the logo, the slogan, or the design of the company who owns it. From there, it’s a little easier to make the jump to the term ‘Branding’. Branding is what takes place when a concept is marketed in a way that makes it recognizable by more and more people. That concept and/or image becomes identified with a certain service or product, thus helping to delineate it from other companies offering a similar product (or service).
Maximizing your Branding Strategies
If you’re working on creating the online branding for your company’s website, keep in mind that search engine optimization (SEO) is a big part of building a successful brand. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO can target different kinds of searches, including image searches, local searches, video searches, academic searches, news searches and even industry-specific vertical search engines. Coordinating domain names and brand names is an important part of finding and keeping clients. The smooth coordination of a domain name and its associated brand names helps create a readily identifiable idea or image of a specific product or service. All of which will make it easier for visitors to discover your new brand.
So remember, in today’s marketplace branding is an important part of internet commerce. Branding also help companies build solid reputations. A solid reputation can then translate into a solid base from which to expand, (beyond the original product and/or service), and thus add to the revenue generated by the original brand.