7 Ways to Carve
a Rock-Solid Online Identity
has been a business buzzword for many years. But the term has
implications far beyond corporate logos, mission statements
and theme songs. Effective branding is all about telling customers
who you are, what you do and how you do it.
recent tragedies in the U.S. and the bad rap that the Internet
has received over the past year, more people are spending time
and money online than ever before. That's why it's vitally important
for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs alike to use the
Internet to make an impact.
Here are seven tips to help you carve a focused identity online.
Define your brand up front. When visitors arrive at your web
site, let them know immediately what you do and why they should
care. Far too many web sites shroud their identity in flashy
graphics and ambiguous slogans without telling people what the
company or person actually does.
Web site through the eyes of a new visitor. Does it spell out
exactly what your brand stands for? If not, redesign it so your
purpose and identity are unmistakable. For example, Terri Lonier's
Working Solo site at www.workingsolo.com does a good job of
establishing her as
a resource for freelancers. The opening paragraph lets visitors
know exactly who the site is for.
with what you do, not who you are. It may defy logic, but making
your company name the most visible element on your home page
may not be the most effective way to reinforce your brand. A
Web-based or e-mail marketing message should state a benefit
right off the bat. Which of these paints a clearer identity:
The business name "Dog Owner Central" displayed in
large letters or the more specific description "Training
tips for busy dog owners"?
a real person as a figure head. The online world can be a cold,
mechanical place. Your branding efforts are more effective when
you add a recognizable, consistent human element. Think of the
way Dave Thomas promotes Wendy's.
company has a CEO or spokesperson who is closely identified
with the company offline, make sure that connection carries
to the cyberworld. If you run a business by yourself, by all
means, put your name, photo and personal message on your web
site. Nothing creates mystery and distrust more than a site
that is void of a human contact and asks visitors to send e-mail
to the "webmaster."
Develop a fan-club mentality. Most online marketers try to generate
readers, visitors or users. I encourage you to switch gears
and create fans. "Users" are people who visit your
web site, subscribe to your newsletter or buy your products
and services. "Fans," on the other hand, cheer you
on, rave about you to their friends and eagerly follow everything
you do. Which would you rather have?