About two weeks ago I unveiled my ... ... to this ... lady friend of mine I have known for several months. Over a simple dinner on a Friday night, I shifted up the gear to ...
About two weeks ago I unveiled my emotional sentiment to this wonderful lady friend of mine I have known for several months. Over a simple dinner on a Friday night, I shifted up the gear to ultimately culminate in an unforgotten moment - disclosing how I've come to admire her and proposing to explore the relationship further.
Unfortunately her reply wasn't the kind every mortal man ever craved for. Citing differences in character, she yanked the plug and put me in an absolutely zero voltage; in short, a total rejection.
Whatever the final chapter of this would-be long and arduous story is totally irrelevant to the central theme of this column. I was actually more amazed at how, in the course of two months, I subliminally managed to generate my aura of skepticism - one of personal nature she admittedly will never put up with.
Interestingly, I have received similar responses from those I know who allegedly observe that particular aura from things I say and my approach to various endeavors. To sum it up in a marketing context, skepticism is MY BRAND.
My brand? Could an individual possibly have a brand? For starters, little that we know that our aura -- driven in some ways by our characters, inner feelings, the way we talk, how we dress -- implicitly tells the world who we are and what they can (and should) expect from us. Our aura is analogous to consumers' expectations of a brand. Our aura is our brand.
Implementing this concept to online branding takes into account the fact that the Internet is now a primary destination of Americans for finding information, according to last December survey by Pew Internet and American Life Project. As people navigate your website to search for your products, services, and company information, it should consistently deliver your brand identity and conveys value propositions across pages. By now, your website should be a critical part of your entire brand-building efforts, far beyond electronic brochure. Like you, it generates an aura, and the aura is the brand.
Resembling broadcast and print media, online interaction is capable of educating users of your brand promise and how it can realize that promise into distinctive value. What's more, the Internet enables longer interaction than the typical 30-second spot in traditional media - a unique advantage in information search -- allowing bigger breathing space to ingrain your message by capitalizing on site elements. Basics such as content, colors, layout, and language style, as well as features like online survey, sweepstakes, or video, must incorporate and communicate your brand promise.
A case in point is ESP Guitars, whose guitars are recognized among the guitar-playing community as the weapon of choice for heavy, rock-oriented music. Coming in intimidating shape, hot-rodded parts, as well as eerie finishes, ESP guitars are associated with personas and bands with unforgiving image -- the likes of Metallica's Kirk Hammet, Jeff Hanneman of Slayer, Sepultura, and solo artist George Lynch. Interestingly, despite its lengthy list of endorsing artists of various musical orientations, ESP only manufacture signature guitars for a selected few of rock players.
Upon arriving at the gateway page that is adored with three bizarre-looking musicians in your average rocker fashion, you will instantly get the idea of what constitutes the ESP name - hard and fast music, independence, freedom, anti-establishment attitude.
Going further into the homepage, you will come across interviews and news on rock guitarists ESP touts as its unofficial spokespersons. There is an interview with Kirk Hammet, Metallica giveaway info, review of radical-shaped LTD Devil Girl guitar (see the name?), as well as tour updates on Danzig and Soulfly - two of the last defenders of heavymetal.
A bit to the bottom you will find a thumbnail image that leads you to a page showcasing ESP's custom guitars in, you guess it - flashy graphics and uncanny designs.
ESP doesn't shy away from more conventional designs and 'softer' players such as Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, but they are relatively insignificant - at least judging from a visit to the site. And unless you care enough to dig deeper into the artist-list page, all you will encounter is how ESP guitars can deliver the sound you need for playing heavy riffs and fast licks.
The incorporation of the news, product info, images, and endorsing artists educates new prospects of ESP brand and what it promises to deliver, while reinforcing its image and character to those already familiar with the brand. Would it be the same if ESP mimicked Gibson Guitars website? Considering the site's something-for-everyone impression that bolsters consumers' already-ingrained perspective of the Gibson name, ESP would likely confuse its loyal customers and drive prospective players to competing brands that are just a click away.
Your website is too important an element to be left alone as an electronic brochure. As the Internet has been shown to be an effective brand-building medium by various research, your website must be an integral element of your overall branding strategy. Like you, it generates an aura, and the aura is the brand.
Johann is an Internet Marketing Consultant at Microsoft The Business Internet Competency Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his company's website http://www.mbicc.com and his online branding e-zine http://www.pranala.com