Jeb Molony

           Branding a company is never easy, but in a world which is largely becoming digital the challenges facing a company with branding become increasingly difficult.  In the past branding relied heavily on interactions which occurred between consumers and service providers or vendors in person.  Businesses relied on brick and mortar stores to attract customers and provide them with an experience while service providers utilized personal interactions to build a relationship and brand their company.  As the world shifts into the next digital age where online shopping and social media will collide to produce a new shopping experience many businesses are trying to find ways to re-brand themselves or continue to build their real world brand in a virtual setting.

            The first concept a business must form is who their customers are and how will they interact with the company over the internet.  For vendors of consumer goods it is all about building an ecommerce website which is a true online store.  The images should be created and shot with social media interaction in mind.  For instance Pinterest uses an ideal image size of 600 x 600 pixels.  For store owners or producers of consumer goods the images and hyperlinks will become crucial for being found and creating a lasting impression on consumers.   Service providers may need better ways to invoice customers from the field while tracking marketing and service data or online portals which allow customers to access and interact with documents.  No matter what the level of interaction with the customer the business will have some sort of contact and needs to think through what impressions they will leave with customers.

            The impression left with customers has always been what leads to word of mouth referrals.  The referrals in the next digital age will come from social media where customers will leave online reviews in places like Angie’s list, Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Yelp, or clients can leave a review or provide referrals through social media by Liking, Pinning, +1ing, or tweeting a site, service, or product.  These methods of review and referral will provide others who search the web with quality reviews which will ultimately be the virtual replacement for word of mouth referrals.  Being reviewed and referred inside social media networks means having to become involved and maintain a brand inside the major networks.

            Customer service is typically the final point of contact as a company continues to work with or maintain a client relationship after the initial service has been performed.  Customer service can be redesigned to use social media or online campaigns such as email to remain in touch with clients.  Businesses will have to determine the best means for staying in touch with or updating clients on changes to their service or product.  This connection with customers is virtual but it is also instantaneous and can be made with a much greater number of people.

            Though the world is changing and business is moving online the need to properly brand ones’ goods or services has never been greater.  The internet can provide a great place to create a new brand, find a fresh start for an old brand, or reinforce a brand that already carries credibility.  The challenges business owners face will be the same, building a reputation, maintaining a reputation, and growing the business, but the forum and interaction for these challenges will be slightly different.  The most important thing to remember is that just as bad news travels faster than good news in the real world; a bad reputation will travel exponentially faster in the online world.

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