Building an on-line brand

Your head hurts and you think Tylenol, not acetaminophen. You’re all stuffed up and you look for a Kleenex, not a tissue.

These successful products own the mind share in their categories, and according to Tom Short, the process of building this type of brand awareness should extend beyond the brick and mortar walls of traditional businesses.

Short, president and founding partner of Idea Machine Inc., spoke on successful on-line marketing at the Innovative Online Solutions Workshop held recently in Mississauga, Ont.

“If a word can be viewed in a tiny way to associate an entire category through that word or company, you will be very successful in whatever you do,” Short said.

Idea Machine provides integrated marketing and graphics solutions, corporate identity development, Web site and multimedia design, and B2B strategy development.

success begins with a name

Successful on-line marketing starts with choosing and securing a URL, targeting search engines and throwing marketing strategies into gear.

Short suggests starting with the company name and image first.

“Your name has to be relevant to your audience, distinctive from the competition, memorable in personality and flexible in its meaning.”

Next comes establishing a logical and simple URL, one based on the company name. Let’s say the company is called Marketing Success. The logical URL would be That name may be unavailable, but there are options.,,,, or are all different avenues to the same goal.

“The easiest thing to do is have your actual name because then people can find you in a logical way. Most people will go by memory or just guess,” Short said. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you, even if they are as dumb as a doornail and couldn’t spell the name if their life depended on it.”

Short said the next step is to ensure the address is publicized everywhere. Put it on store bags, company business cards and letterhead, billboards, bus shelters, anywhere it will be seen.

Also, the shorter the URL the better, although numerous addresses are actually beneficial. The more URLs a company secures the better they rank in some search engines. Short said to secure your URL with, if possible, many different variations of spelling, and derivatives of domain – such as .net, .ca, .org, etc.

Target your search engines

Search engines work differently. Some look at content, weight and frequency of key words, others at meta tags and titles on the screen.

“You pick two or three in your strategy because they do work differently. Try to identify niche engines and concentrate on those,” Short said.

For, the main sites they concentrated on were, and The company felt these sites cater to the Canadian population and business industry.

Short advises companies to choose the search engines that serve the needs of your company.

making your brand work

“The reason that branding is marketing is that it goes beyond the name and your logo. Branding is everything about you,” Short said. “Every point of contact you have is a client, and that includes your Web site. When you get into any business, an essential part of the business is branding.”

Short said branding differentiates a business and gives people the reason to work for them or buy their product. “(It will) make you stand out of the crowd and pre-sell you, no matter where you go,” Short said.

getting yourself noticed

The four basics of promoting your business on-line, according to Short, are making it easy for your audience to find you, publishing your URL everywhere, identifying your audience, and giving them a compelling reason to come back to your site.

“Once you know your audience and you give them a relevant reason to be at your site, then they should return.”

Balancing your marketing mix plays a crucial role in the success of any business. Marketing venues include digital presence, URL search, search engines, e-mail banners, newsgroups, promotions by word of mouth, public relations, specialty print, direct mail, radio, outdoor ads, TV or print media.

“You don’t need to employ them all. It depends on your audience, your budget, and what your objective is,” Short said. He said a distinctive URL and search engine targeting are essentials.

Idea Machine helped advertise for, a business-to-business procurement Web site. For example, roughneck had the option of buying a $50,000 trade show booth and vying for attention with all the other trade show attendees. Instead, the company spent $20,000 and rented the entire parking lot and gave everybody free parking.

“We had young guys in roughneck hard hats handing out hanging tags to go in everyone’s car,” Short said. By doing so, those tags, bearing the company information, were hanging in over 5,000 cars. This was easy advertising, targeted at the specific audience.

“Later, we had an e-mail campaign. It read ‘Hope you enjoyed the parking. Please check out our Web site.'” Short said.

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