Online branding offers credibility

The word 'branding' once referred to corporate logos, packaging and commercial jingles. In the online world that has come to be known as Web 2.0, things have changed, however. Today, effective branding is less about 'selling' to customers and more about 'telling' them:

- Who you are – the background and experience that qualifies you to solve the needs of your prospective customer better than your competitor

- What you do – the benefits that your company brings to its clients. For example, a security camera installation firm might say that it sells "a safe workplace"

- How you do it – the methods you use to deliver the benefits you promise so the satisfaction of the customer is guaranteed

How to use the internet

The internet offers a gold mine of opportunity for establishing credibility and creating an audience of enthusiastic fans and followers.

Even the most basic website is an effective brand-building device. That's because a website does a much better job of building relationships than any other form of marketing communication with your customers.

Traditional marketing communications are monologues; they go one way from seller to prospective buyer. Online, however, you can establish a dialogue. A website includes mechanisms such as 'contact us' forms, message boards, forums, and most blogs that invite existing and potential clients to get to know you...communicate with you...and tell you what they need so you can provide the solution.

That's good for them and your business. In a business world where the focus is on transactions and the bottom line, an important element can get lost...the human element. A company's 'about us' page puts a human face on an otherwise technical, dry, and impersonal website and helps cement a relationship with prospective clients.

In a business world where the focus is on transactions and the bottom line, an important element can get lost – the human element.

Whether for business or pleasure, humans want to connect with other humans. A company's 'About Us' page puts a human face on an otherwise technical, dry, and impersonal website and helps cement a relationship with prospective clients.

Social network profiles

Why does a person shop at one business rather than another or buy one product instead of another? While price is one factor, today's customers are interested in the culture of the businesses they buy from.

They are also influenced by the opinions of peers and 'people like me.'

Stats from Nielsen Online show social networking had overtaken e-mail in terms of worldwide reach.

According to the study, 66.8 per cent of net users across the globe accessed social communities (also called member networks) last year, as opposed to the 65.1 per cent who used e-mail. Because they allow you to share pertinent information for the rest of the world to see, social sites are the number one way to get your message out to a global audience at practically no cost. The virtually 'free' delivery system provided by the internet means companies can invest their resources in the services of a social media expert with the skills and knowledge to deliver results.

At sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, if what you post on your profile page is truly valuable, you instantly become a 'trusted resource' and your audience will do your marketing for you. Your message or video – along with your brand identity – can easily go viral and reach a cascading number of people as your interested visitors and fans send your link to millions of their friends and they pass the word on to their friends and so on.

Corporate blogging

Google does it. Microsoft does it. And some of the most influential CEOs in the world do it for their companies because they know how powerful it is. What is 'it'?

It's blogging. A business blog can be written in one of numerous styles, or a combination of these. One huge benefit is the ability to inform your customers of any changes, new products, latest offers and much more. This, in turn, can lead to direct sales. Depending on your company or business model, corporate blogging, like an About Us page, makes a company feel more human to the world.

Additionally, a company blog is a way for your company to become engaged with and by the online community. A well-written blog can gain popularity which can lead to thousands of people subscribing to your feeds...and being exposed to your advertising and marketing messages.

Twitter – The new frontier

Twitter, the most famous micro-blogging site, allows its members to communicate in abbreviated, high-impact messages of 140 characters. Today, Twitter has roughly six million users and is projected to grow to 18.1 millions users in 2010. It is the 'next wave' in social media marketing. One thing to do is include your Twitter handle wherever you would place your website URL and contact information.You should also include your Twitter information on the last slide of any business presentation and tell people that they can follow you on Twitter. 

- Husam Jandal, Digital Marketing Consultant at WSI


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