Marketing a brand, whether consumer goods or professional services, was simpler before the Digital Age: You'd choose a logo, create a catchy tagline, develop a set of messaging points and use this relatively streamlined corporate identity to convey your brand promise to the world
Good design and marketing communications principles endure, but the number of platforms and channels has increased exponentially, making consistency in branding more of a challenge.
Today's consumers are increasingly likely to first encounter your brand online than off, and even those who get their first impression of your brand in print often follow up with a Google search. As a marketing specialist, it's your job to make sure potential clients get a favorable first impression and that the material they find online bolsters it. Here are some thoughts on why that is important and what you can do about it:
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Everyone Googles: Since practically everyone Googles the name of a company or individual they're considering doing business with these days, it's important to make sure online searchers get results that bolster your brand's credibility.
That means managing search engine results. One way to do that is to find ways to make it easier for prospects to get relevant, positive results, such as creating a link that instantly connects readers to curated search results. This link can be embedded in email signature lines and other online communication.
Email still rules. Trend-spotters have been predicting the death of email ever since Facebook and Twitter came on the scene and Generation Y began using social media as their preferred personal communication tool.
But the truth is, email is still the primary mode of communication in the business world, which is why you should make sure your company's outgoing emails support your brand. An email signature line that directs recipients to a website with more information on the individual who sent it and the company is a great marketing tool.
Social media matters. Social media pages like LinkedIn fall into a grey area since they technically belong to the individual but can be an excellent branding opportunity for an employer. Whether you're marketing a consumer brand or professional services, it pays to deliver a consistent message using all platforms, including social media.
Many executives view setting up a professional profile as a chore, so you can offer to give their LinkedIn page a makeover in exchange for adding a corporate brand to the current activities section.
Business cards drive first impressions. The business card has been around for generations, but it's still a first-line impression builder, particularly in the professional services sector. Marketers know this and carefully manage business card branding – as they should.
But it also makes sense to think beyond the paper rectangle and create a business card that is also a bridge to an online repository of information about the professional and the company. A QR code imprinted on the business card can make that happen.
Printed material can have a major impact. Like business cards, printed material such as proposals, brochures and presentations can be a great vehicle for conveying key branding messages on paper while also providing a digital bridge linking the reader to an online hub of information about the individual and company.
This is an excellent way to convey key facts about the individual's relevant expertise while also giving readers a more complete impression of the company's strengths, depth and areas of specialty.
Well over a decade into the 21st century, virtually all brand marketers acknowledge the importance of managing their company's and professionals' online reputations. But too few take an integrated approach to the task, making sure the branding campaign is seamless across all platforms and that there are links between digital and physical materials.
That's a lost branding opportunity. Marketers who want to maximize brand value should make the most of every opportunity, constantly managing their online reputation in the digital realm as well as on paper.
- Susan Jacobs is the Director of Marketing and Client Services for ALL-STATE LEGAL. With over 18 years of marketing experience, Jacobs, who is also a member of ASL's executive team, leads the marketing team in strategic development and tactical implementation for ASL's marketing initiatives encompassing all sales channels, direct marketing, catalog, tradeshows, sponsorships, and sales lead generation, as well as, product management.