Successful marketers are looking beyond Logos and color schemes to build their brands online. Online branding is becoming more sophisticated as more attention is paid to creativity and technological applications. That, in turn, is fueling cross-media ad campaigns.
There is evidence that branding is taken more seriously online. MSN's online Pulse, a six-monthly Barometer of marketing trends, has identified a rise in advertising creativity and attention to brand building on web.
Online brand building is a major task for most of the corporates who have established a big brand in the click and mortar world.
Advertisers agree that its difficult to pull off a branding strategy on the Web. Many of the techniques that are most successful in offline ads are complete bombs when duplicated online. The Net may be an interactive media, but it often defines all brand logic.
"Strong offline brands do not always translate directly to the web," says Rich Radka, director of creative delivery at Sapient (SAPE), a Cambridge, Massachusetts based I-Builder. "Treating the web as just another distribution channel, instead of seeing it as a different medium with different needs, usually backfires."
In fact, many sites that are run by top brands register a minimal online traffic, according to a recent report by Forrester research (FORR). Forrester studies brand awareness and web-surfing behavior among 16 to 22 years old, who advertisers consider strict brand conscious.
Nike has built one of the world's largest brands. The combination of swoosh (the popular thick tick-mark like logo), the "Just Do It" slogan and their high-priced TV ads, including the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, have inspired millions of people to buy their products. Today Nike is a global household name.
But pay a visit to Nike's website and you can see how hard it is to take an offline brand and replicate it online. Swoosh is omnipresent, but the superstars' images take forever to load. Hardly an environment conveying speed, strength and athleticism .. would you like to surf to this site on a slow connection?
Just do not do it, is quite likely to be your response.
"Although its swoosh is almost omnipresent on young consumers' sneakers and baseball caps, Nike's site is anything but a hot destination," Forrester contends. "Other favorite brands like Coke, Pizza Hut and Levi's do not register enough traffic to show up on the Media Matrix audience ratings.
Consequently, Web brand-building is not cheap. If you are trying to build an US based online national consumer brand, you'd better budget $ 30 million to $ 70 million just for the advertising and communications work. For a business-to-business brand, it takes $ 10 million to $ 30 million to launch.
The costs are higher because building a brand requires a persistent online presence. For some brands, this leads a mass-appeals site; for others, brand building requires a combination of initiations from banner ads to sponsorships.
One strategy is to combine online and offline marketing. Messages across multiple media should be consistent. But not many companies have succeeded in duplicating an offline ad directly on the Net, or vice versa.