What is it about some Web sites? You know the ones: those that go beyond just making information available to you. Every Web user has particular Web sites that are their favorites for one reason or another. If you ask these users what it is about these particular sites that draws them back time and again, many would not mention the factors that I am going to cover in this article. Yet if these elements did not exist...neither would the viewers.
What Is Branding?
I'm speaking about branding, and more specifically cyberbranding. There are many definitions of branding (in marketing terms). In essence, they all mean relatively the same thing. Branding is the effort of a company to evoke a particular response in the end user/consumer's mind about a particular product or service. The brand is not only that product or service, but also all of the emotions, perceptions, and impressions experienced by the person buying or using that product or service. Companies spend trillions of dollars each year in efforts to brand their company, their products, and their services. But at the end of the day, brand managers can't actually dictate what a brand really is. They can try everything possible to convey a certain message about their brand, but it is still the impressions left in the mind of the end user that dictate the success or failure of any brand.
Let's look at some well-known brands and analyze them. One of the most popular brands worldwide is McDonalds. Those golden arches are a huge part of the McDonalds brand, but are not the brand themselves. When you drive down the street and you see them, you automatically have a certain impression of McDonald's. First of all, you recognize the place right away and are not confused about what type of business it is. But a logo is not a brand. By seeing those arches, you also know what type of food and service to expect. You don't go there expecting fine cuisine. No, you know that you should expect to get a certain level of service (a friendly smile at a cash register, not the maitre'd from your favorite Italian restaurant dressed in a tuxedo). You expect to receive a fast-food style burger, not a filet mignon. You expect it to be served quickly and not pay a lot of money for it. The quality of the food, the type of service, the overall experience...these are all aspects of the McDonald's brand.
Minwax, a popular stain manufacturer, realizes there are other stains for you to choose from when you walk into the local hardware store. What Minwax has tried to convey (very successfully) is that when you use its products on all of your wood projects, Minwax turns your house into a beautiful home. Again, the perception of "home" is a warm and cozy feeling. Wouldn't you rather use a product that makes you feel good about your last staining project because it enhanced your home, where you live, and where you take pride in what you have? This perception plays more off the emotional aspects of purchasing a wood stain than any other facet. And if you are satisfied with the product in the end, won't you consider recommending this product to your friends or purchasing it again for you next project? The feeling that you are left with and the impressions of the product (or service) that you are left with are all part of branding.