It used to be that all one needed to succeed in sales was a great smile, a firm handshake, and an impressive business card. If a person had these three attributes, they were pretty much guaranteed an audience in which to pitch their product or service. This personal interaction allowed for questions to be asked, concerns to be addressed, and a certain level of trust to be established between the consumer and salesperson—the very essence of branding.
Unfortunately, in today’s highly competitive marketplace, building brands through a charming personality and great looking business cards is not enough—consumers have been inundated with marketing and advertising messages, a seemingly endless selection of products to choose from, and increasing demands for their time. Therefore, a well-designed logo or brand is no longer enough. More and more, people are turning to the web in order to make purchasing decisions.
The Internet offers a pressure-free environment in which consumers can explore a company’s products or services at their leisure, and without eager salespeople trying to close a deal. A well-designed web site allows companies to communicate their brand essence—the qualities, benefits and value that resonates with their target audience. Regular email communication and promotions, as well as community forums, allow for the organization to create an emotional connection with consumers. In this capacity, the web has truly become the entry point for the brand experience.
Even though online communications are becoming essential to business success, this does not necessarily make printed collateral, such as brochures, sales kits, or direct mail pieces, obsolete. In fact, this is quite the contrary. Any type of Internet marketing effort, whether it is an informational site (referred to as an “online brochure” or “static site”), an email marketing campaign, or an electronic newsletter, must still be supported through traditional marketing and promotional activities.
Brands are more than just an organization’s logo, brochure, or even a web site. The brand experience encompasses all aspects of communication between a company and its target market or audience. Therefore, it is important that all touch points associated with your brand must have a professional look and feel, and communicate a consistent message. It just so happens that now the most important first impression is your company’s web site.
—Ryan Hembree, principal/brand strategy