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Transitioning to the Web

All of these aspects hold true for the Web. Whether you are a traditional brick-and-mortar company adding a Web component or a completely Web-only entity, most of the same branding rules apply. When considering building a Web site for the first time or redeveloping an existing site of yours, there are many aspects that need to be factored into the development stage. Many of them are even more critical than the language you program your site in or the type of server that you host it on. Cyberbranding is a critical part of the success of a Web site.

We spoke earlier about the perceptions that end users/consumers have about your product and services. Let's pretend you run a very successful clothing store. Customers are willing to drive to the nearest location because of the type of products you carry, the availability of the clothes in all sizes and colors, the prices, and the fabulous customer service your sales staff offers on the floor. The impression people have should be relatively high. Your efforts are paying off. The stores are a success.

Now, you decide to launch a Web site so that people can buy your merchandise online. Suppose that when you go online, you still carry the same number of products, but you never have any sizes available (only XXXL), the site is hard to use, and the prices are inconsistent with what customers find in the actual stores. When the online user tries to get some help...there is none. And what if customers finally find what they want and order it, but receive the wrong item (or worse, never receive it at all)? What type of impression do they have about your Web site? Are they likely to come back and purchase their products from it? Will they recommend it to their friends? Of course not. Will you want people to tell their friends not to use the site if they are considering purchasing some clothes online? If the consumer can't make it to your physical store and wants to order something online, the next time they go to purchase these items, they probably will check out a competitor's site (which carries the same products, has it in stock, guarantees delivery, and makes the online shopping experience worthwhile—even if they had to pay a few extra dollars).

If you have an established brand offline, you most likely want to carry those same brand messages online (where possible). Simple things such as logos, tag lines, and colors are a given. The last thing you want to do is send potential clients or customers to your site only to confuse them when they get there because they are not sure whether they arrived at the right place. As I mentioned earlier, there's no mistaking those golden arches as you drive down the highway. The same principles hold true for online customers. Whatever your product or service, let your customers know that they have arrived at the proper destination.

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