What is Online Brand Management?
Online brand management refers to the process of monitoring, protecting, and improving a brand’s reputation and perception through various online channels. It involves analyzing and influencing how a brand is perceived by customers, stakeholders, and the public in general across digital platforms, including social media, search engines, review websites, and other online channels.
Table of Content
- 1 What is Online Brand Management?
- 2 Elements of Branding
- 3 Emotional Branding Vs. Rational Branding
- 4 Strategies of Brand Leveraging and Brand Consolidation
- 5 Costs Involved in Branding
- 6 Affiliate and Viral Marketing
It is the brand image that distinguishes between two similar organizations in an industry. A brand gives an identity to an organization as well as to its products and services. E-commerce offers a wide variety of options to consumers, with just one click of a mouse. In such a competitive environment, organizations need to build their brand image to provide a unique identity for their products and services.
Brands are the strategic assets of an organization that provide it with a competitive edge and long-term profitability. A brand has some tangible and intangible elements, as shown in Table:
|Tangible Elements||Intangible Elements|
|Product Itself||Experience that the customer gets from using the product|
|Product Appearance||Relationship of the customer with the brand|
An organization needs to manage its brand so that its customers perceive it favorably. Brand management involves various strategies to acquire and retain customers. A good brand should confirm an organization’s credibility, connect with the target customers, and motivate them to purchase the products or services offered by the organization.
Elements of Branding
The physical identity of a brand is constituted by brand name, logo, symbol, and design, which distinguish the company’s image in the eyes of customers and provide sensory perception and experience.
Compared to traditional branding, branding on the Internet is much more challenging. Since most of the advertising and promotion for online brands is conducted through websites, organizations need to focus on website design aspects, such as logo, graphics, content, color, or layout, to ensure that they are in line with the brand elements. This will enable the organization to present a unique and defining website to visitors, which will help cement the brand identity in their minds.
Emotional Branding Vs. Rational Branding
To establish a brand successfully, a company needs to incorporate an effective brand strategy. If a brand strategy is well-executed, it has the potential to impact all the aspects of a business by associating with consumer needs and emotions, and a competitive environment. Mainly, two branding strategies are used:
- Emotional branding
- Rational branding
These branding strategies can be differentiated based on three aspects, as shown in Table:
|Basis for Differentiation||Emotional Branding||Rational Branding|
|Based on the approaches used||It appeals to the customer’s emotions.|
Common emotional approaches include stressing personal experiences related to the use of the product, such as user testimonies. These testimonies are personal experiences of customers who have used or are using a product or service and its use has benefitted them in some way. Organizations can use these testimonials to refer products or services to potential customers.
|It focuses on the benefits of using a product.|
Common rational approaches include displaying and demonstrating the use of products and their benefits. For example, a television commercial using a packaged food product that has good ingredients is rational branding.
|Based on the context of the brand||It will use content (slogan, text, or images) to target the emotions of customers. For example, the emotional branding of a hotel will include terms like ‘value’ and ‘family-friendly’ in its slogan or tagline.||It will use content to emphasize the benefits of a product or service to persuade customers to use it. For example, rational branding of a hotel will include terms that describe the features of the hotel about the cost of the hotel rooms.|
|Based on product placement||It uses strategies that place people, who use the product, in the center of the promotion. For example, an advertisement using emotional branding will show customers interacting with friendly salespeople or employees.||It uses strategies that place the product at the center of the promotion, with all the activities revolving around the product. For example, an advertisement using rational branding will show the useful features of the product only.|
Strategies of Brand Leveraging and Brand Consolidation
Brand management methods include brand leveraging and brand consolidation strategies.
Brand leveraging is the practice of introducing a new but related product by using the influence of an existing brand name. It will help customers associate the new product immediately with the existing product.
There are various methods of brand leveraging, discussed as follows:
- Line Extension: It refers to offering more items in the same product class or category as the core brand.
- Co-branding: It refers to two familiar brands promoting their products together.
- Licensing: It refers to the use of an organization’s brand name by another organization for selling a non-competing product. The licensing organization obtains revenue instead of its brand name.
- Brand Extension: It refers to offering a new product line under the same brand name, which may or may not be closely related.
- Vertical Expansion: It refers to offering different quality and price levels for the same product under the same brand.
Another strategy for brand positioning is brand consolidation, which is the practice of consolidating or merging several brands in a portfolio into one or a few brands so that the organization can focus on and expand the remaining or new brands.
Brand consolidation becomes necessary when organizations have merged with or acquired other brands. Organizations consolidate brands to:
- Increase product and service offerings
- Raise profitability and competitive advantage
- Decrease operating costs
Brands available online are generally functional copies of each other. As a result, they compete with each other for the same group/ category of customers leading to increased costs of advertising and promotion. If the brand portfolio is vast, the cost is even higher. Hence, organizations choose to consolidate several brands into a limited few or introduce a completely new brand to acquire a customer base and focus on expanding the consolidated brand.
Costs Involved in Branding
Branding involves costs right from the planning stage to its introduction and reinforcement. Organizations can establish successful branding only through continuous efforts and high financial commitments.
- Market Research
- Brand Designing and Content Management
- Advertising and Promotion
- Brand Reinforcement
Organizations carry out market research to ensure that their brands are well-perceived and acceptable in the market. Market research involves money and raises costs.
Brand Designing and Content Management
Online brands need a visual identity through specific logos, color schemes, and Web presentation, which involves costs. Content development and management also involve costs of copyrighting, creating blogs, articles, and so on.
Advertising and Promotion
Once a brand has been designed, it needs to be introduced through efficient advertising and promotional campaigns. Such advertising campaigns constitute a major part of brand costing. For instance, popular websites, social networking sites, or search engines are being used by companies to promote their brands. This requires companies to pay various platforms for displaying their advertisements.
Brand reinforcement ensures the continued relevance of a brand to customers. This calls for an infusion of innovation in product design, manufacturing, and merchandising. However, brand renewal or reinforcement is dependent on the employment of dedicated teams, which usually adds to the budget.
There are two common marketing strategies used by organizations for brand promotion:
An organization selling over the Internet can associate or affiliate itself with other websites that are frequently visited by prospective customers. This helps the organization market its products or services to potential consumers. Such an organization using other major websites to popularise its brand is called an affiliate.
Affiliate marketing is an association between four core elements. For example, affiliate marketing takes place when organizations promote their products on Facebook.
Another marketing strategy employed by organizations using the Internet is viral marketing. It is a technique in which an organization uses its customers to promote a product. Viral marketing is the Internet’s version of ‘word-of-mouth marketing’.
Viral marketing is a practice wherein other websites or individuals are persuaded to communicate a marketing message to other sites or users, thereby increasing the visibility and outcome of the message. For example, Hotmail, now under Microsoft, sends its promotional messages to all Hotmail users’ e-mail accounts.
Some features of viral marketing are as follows:
- It propagates itself from one person to another.
- It is initiated through e-mails to friends and acquaintances.
- It may spread positive points as well as negative points.