How To Brand Your Web Site
by Said Rouhani
What's your favorite search engine?
Mine used to be Infoseek. For a while Infoseek was the only search engine I used, and the name "Infoseek" was fixed on my mind as the place to go whenever I wanted to find something on the Internet.
But I could care less about Infoseek nowadays.
I never use it anymore.
After Disney bought Infoseek in 1998, they changed the name to Go.com. "Alright", you might say, "can't you take a name change?" Well, problem is, it wasn't just a name change, it was a total elimination of the Infoseek brand.
The whole visuals of the site were changed, and what's even worse, the Go.com site became an entertainment oriented search engine. It was still a search engine, but it neither looked nor felt the same as good old Infoseek (and the search results were not the same as before).
Infoseek was struggling, which is why Disney bought it. But it was still a heck of a brand name, an asset which Disney completely neglected. The result is that a lot of people who used Infoseek before have now switched to other search engines.
In fact, the brand kill was so destructive that Go.com doesn't maintain its own index anymore (it serves results from GoTo.com). Infoseek/Go.com is as good as dead, and the brand change by Disney had without a doubt a profound role in the failure.
What can be learnt from this? Well, first point: branding is very important. It can make or break a business venture.
Second point: branding is psychological. It exists in the minds of customers and prospects. When I say, "Image is nothing. Thirst is everything", I can bet that the name of a popular fizzy lemonade will pop up in your mind. That's the power of branding for you.
And third point: repeated exposure to the brand is vital to producing a successful brand. When the Infoseek brand was gone, the search engine somehow lost its "meaning".
And just to make it absolutely clear what Web branding really is, here's a short definition:
The purpose of branding is to get people to recall your company/product/service from memory. The ultimate aim is to get people to trust you more than the competition, and to think of your Web site before they think of the competition's Web site.
Branding isn't just for the big companies. It's just as important to the small business entrepreneur, especially online business owners. With cutthroat competition on the Web, those who don't brand will probably go out of business.
Here are several hands-on branding strategies for you to apply to your own Web site, using your business name and your own name...