:: Corporate Branding
Corporate branding, corporate identity and corporate image are frequently confused as being one and the same thing. The following article briefly explains the difference between them and suggests correct web usage to maximise the effect of Corporate branding.
Corporate branding is the projection of knowledge and trust and to differentiate between competitors within the target market. The factors covered by corporate branding are its services, actions and products. To form a coherent idea how corporate branding works, we may consider Coca Cola.
Our knowledge of Coca Cola is a sweet, sparkling beverage, consumed on it's own, or frequently mixed with spirits and renowned the world over.
Our trust in Coca Cola is in its quality and availability. Taking a closer look at both of these items, the quality lies within the seemingly repetitive taste. We know how it will taste every time we buy it, no matter where we are. In short, we know exactly what we are going to get. The availability is aggressively pursued by its own marketers. Thousands of shops around the world have huge adverts on their frontage for Coca Cola. It appears Coca Cola is available in virtually every second street. The high availability of the product breeds consumer loyalty which, in turn, is reinforced by its quality. That loyalty pays dividends in times of economic hardship and so the cycle continues.
Finally is how Coca Cola differentiates itself from its competitors. How the general public perceives them may not be identical in all parts of the world. However, it can rely on a few very important aspects. The quality of its taste, the fiercely protected usage of the word "Coke" and the famous logo penned by Frank Robinson. The Quality aspect deserves special attention as Coca Cola found out at great expense when they announced a change in the formula to a sweeter less tangy taste on April 23, 1985. 87 days later with up to 6,000 complaints a day on the 1-800-GET-COKE line, they reintroduced the original formula.
Brand value is a measure of the probability that people will continue to choose a particular product in monetary terms. Coca Cola, according to Interbrand is number 1 at US$67billion.
Corporate identity covers the "in-house" aspects of a company, such as the company name, logo, tagline, and it's visual appearance. To use Coca Cola as an example we can see that the company name is also the brand name of a drink , the logo is the script as mentioned above, the tagline is "Enjoy Coca Cola" and visual appearance we think of as red with white.
The corporate image is effectively the public's view of a company. This can be positive or negative and can change from one to the other, as Coca Cola found out within just a few weeks.
Corporate Branding Online
Corporate branding online requires special attention as it can be the singularly most cost effective method of promotion, it can also cause an immense amount of damage to offline promotions.
Knowledge is a very simple aspect to achieve with a website. Unfortunately, this is so frequently overlooked by both designers and the companies themselves that instead of furnishing the reader with "everything they always wanted to know about brand X" (or Merchandise 7X in Coca colas case), they are faced with a few flashy graphics and little actual information. The effects of this mistake are profound.
- The visually impaired members of society are effectively alienated with their text reading software.
- Information seekers with text only browsers or images disabled to speed up download times and reduce data transfer costs are alienated.
- Hi-tech internet devices like PDAs that rely on text are rendered useless.
Even simple aspects like a discussion between friends may result in one or the other seeking further information. A knowledge-based, content-rich website will afford all of the above a large degree of satisfaction and enhance customer loyalty.
Developing trust online is somewhat more demanding than developing knowledge. Trust is a sensory perception. How do we "see" this company, how do we "feel" about this company. The way we see a company online is through our visualisation of the website, this is a "black & white" scenario. All we can see of a company online is the website, it follows that a professional looking website will project a professional image for the company. Naturally, this works in reverse too. Think, "first impressions last".
The way we feel about the company is a combination of how we see it and how we interact with it in other ways, Our feelings are swayed by our visual perception by a large percentage as are our feelings in everyday situations. This does not preclude the visually impaired. A combination of a great visual presentation along with excellent customer service, rapid response to enquiries a good returns policy and so on, all help boost trust in the online marketplace.
Differentiation from competitors is possibly the most under developed strategy to many businesses. Wild claims of being the "cheapest on the net" or the "best on the net" are so over used that even if they are true, are so overused that they carry little effect than attract their own competitors to file complaints.
The key to differentiation lies within establishing a "Niche Market". A clinically precise market SWOT analysis will highlight how your business serves your market, how it fails and what can be done to better serve that market. Finding the niche and concentrating efforts towards that market is a practice observed by many of the worlds largest companies, often to the point of monopolisation and is the most powerful method of differentiation both on and offline.