Cover image for Deep branding on the Internet : applying heat and pressure online to ensure a lasting brand
Deep branding on the Internet : applying heat and pressure online to ensure a lasting brand
Braunstein, Marc.
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Publication Information:
Roseville, Calif. : Prima venture [2000]

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xx, 380 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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HF5415.1265 .B73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The Web poses fundamental questions about a company's marketing and branding strategy. This work shows how marketing on the Web should be integrated into the overall corporate marketing plan, and offers practical strategies that can be put to work immediately.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Given the glut of enterprises, what does it take for one company to emerge as the leader in its category? A number of business advisors have argued that "branding" is the key. Branding guru Al Ries and his daughter have already laid down The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding [BKL My 15 00], and now consultants Braunstein and Levine explain the concept of "deep branding." They first argue that the Internet should not be the sole focus of a company's marketing plan and then stress that a brand is an "indelible mark made on the mind of a stakeholder." They define brand stakeholders, brand "heat," and brand "pressure" and offer a formula for deep branding. They then consider marketing and promotion, customer service, and the economics of the Internet. In an attempt to connect with readers, the authors serve up their insights and advice in a "series of short chapters similar to the `page views' found throughout the Internet." --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

It isn't an accident that this book, the work of two consultants, reads like a tightly focused marketing textbook. What Braunstein and Levine understand is that a Web site is not a brand. While the Internet is a wonderful distribution channel, it is only a tool for building a brand. If you want to create a brand, you have to do what companies have always done: create an indelible mark on the minds of customers by combining a product that meets their needs with a vivid image. Using a vivid image of their own to get the point across, the authors draw on the origin of the word "brand" suggest that marketers do exactly what ranchers do when they want to leave their mark on cattle: apply heat and pressure. Through a series of short chapters, Braunstein and Levine show how to apply heatÄthe values of the organizationÄand pressureÄwhat goes into the marketing effort. Since the book covers the basics, readers expecting "marketing tricks" are going to be disappointed. But executivesÄeven those with a marketing backgroundÄare bound to get a boost from lessons such as "users are not customers" (customers represent repeat business, users don't) and constant reminders of the importance of customization and immediately meeting your customers' expectations. The payoff for doing this well can be enormous. As the authors write: "A deep brand is the ultimate Internet search engine. People go to search engines when they don't know who can address their needs; they go to brands when they do." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One No Magic Bullet With every door that is successively opened on the Internet, the less familiar the surroundings become. The pursuit of link after link, the unraveling of complex threads of Internet conversation, can quickly leave the browser feeling disoriented and bewildered. During the average Internet session, users switch page views about every 12 seconds. The average site visit lasts less than 5 minutes. An hour of pointing and clicking may therefore serve up about 300 pages of Internet content, much of it fragmented and disconnected from the original entry point.     Herbert Simon, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, makes the point (most economically!) when he remarks that "a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." Spend much time on the Internet, and it's only a matter of time before you're asking yourself: "How on earth did I wind up here? What was I looking for in the first place?" And with increasing frequency, "What do I really know about this company I just gave my credit card number to?"     At the same time, every business stakeholder--from the Fortune 500 to the local hardware store--fervently looks for the answers to a different set of questions about the Internet. "Can the Web really help us become more valuable to our customers? If we don't invest in the Web, will we be leaving ourselves vulnerable to dangerous new competitors? How will the Web give us more control over markets that are becoming increasingly fragmented? What will be the impact of the Web on our chain of supply and distribution?"     Without a clear sense of how to address these critical questions, businesses can easily become entangled. While business managers often require guidance from outsiders to enter an environment as volatile and complex as the Internet, too much of this intervention takes place because management fails to understand that an Internet presence is merely a reflection of a company's strategic focus and meaning and is of no real use for divining it in the first place . Tacticians like Web developers may be required to assist us in realizing our strategies, but they are an ineffective substitute for the unbiased thinking of strategists themselves.     As you watch your company's beautiful Internet masthead, navigation bar, icons, and graphics fill the screen, you might think you've taken the first steps toward creating a new Internet brand. If only it were that easy! The process of forging a brand begins when you develop a unique idea that is highly relevant to a particular marketplace. Yet Web businesses commonly confuse displaying the mere symbol for a brand, a trademark, with the arduous process of developing a brand of value. Be forewarned: The "" appended to a company name is no magic bullet. It fails to make a value statement of any kind. The Internet is an extremely valuable device only when deployed in accordance with the essential aspects of a company's strategic brand, marketing, and business plans.     The Internet can also convey the impression that it has flattened the playing field, allowing agile newcomers to compete almost equally with those big, slow-footed brands of yesteryear. That viewpoint, propagated during the Silicon Valley "gold rush" by an unbridled and untested corps of CEOs and venture capitalists, has finally run its course. Just because your company occupies the same 170-square-inch screen the big names do, or just because you can purchase advertising time on the Super Bowl beside deep, established brands, doesn't mean you have any sort of parity with them.     Conversely, no matter how much material wealth your competitors may possess, they will steadily lose momentum to your company's deeper brands and the focused, efficient use of resources that deep branding allows. The Internet can be your secret weapon, but only when the ammunition is the powerful thinking and careful planning about all of the branding and business elements that surround it. * * * Key Points º A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention; use your Internet site to focus on what customers want and need to hear rather than on all you have to say. º The Internet is a tactic, not a strategy in itself, and "" appended to a company name makes no value statement of any kind. Chapter Two A URL Is Not a Brand In its earliest years, the Internet was a rather easy channel to navigate, a network of strictly elite users at academic and government sites. As the Internet expanded and mutated in the World Wide Web, users found it increasingly difficult to navigate without the assistance of a search engine. These first directories to the Web were relatively unsophisticated, nondiscriminating guides to the millions of emerging commercial and not-for-profit sites. They functioned much like the Yellow Pages on steroids, quickly listing all sites in which a particular keyword appeared, but doing little to discriminate among the sites.     If a prospective customer was looking for "bicycle," for example, the search engine quickly scoured all Web sites indexed within its database and returned to the screen all "meta-tag descriptors" in which the word "bicycle" was featured prominently. (A meta descriptor or keyword tag is the hidden text attached to a Web site or page, designed to be read by the indexing software used by search engines.) The search engine's algorithm--or method of finding, scoring, and listing the results it had found--would inevitably bring a site like immediately to the fore, followed by sites in which "bicycle" was a frequently used keyword.     To help companies get close to the top of the list, businesses would employ various tricks they'd developed based on their knowledge of how the system worked. A small marketing subspecialty emerged--selling advice on how to maximize a company's visibility within the confines of the search window. For a time, it was not uncommon to find sites with descriptive tags attached that would read "bicycle, bicycles, bicycling, cycles, cycling, bike, bikes, biking, racing bike, mountain bike, touring bike ..." and so on. (In the Yellow Pages, you could garner the same priority attention using an old trick: naming your business "AAA Ace Plumbing," or something equally high on the alphabetical hierarchy.)     Individual entrepreneurs, recognizing the value of generic, highly descriptive Internet addresses, began collecting what they considered the most desirable names for eventual resale. The practice of speculatively reserving Internet URLs (universal resource locators) at a cost of just $70 per address became so prevalent that it was known as "cyber-squatting." Managers of well-funded Internet startups likewise became preoccupied with finding the "best" (that is, the most straightforward) names for their fledgling companies, and they proudly considered such "" trademarks to be one of their greatest assets.     "We're living in brand Bosnia," lamented one Silicon Valley public relations executive on the lack of suitable and available URLs. "Most of the good names are gone." Because little consideration was given to the historical fact that deep brands are made, not born, some Internet addresses were transferred at astounding prices. The address was sold for $3 million, for $1 million. Setting a record at the end of 1999, the developer of a site that planned to offer a broad directory of business services paid $7.5 million for "It [] captures what I think we're building," stated the URL's new owner. In his opinion, the name took priority over the idea it was supposed to represent.     Of course, it didn't take long for the companies that ran the search engines to realize that selling their top listings to "preferred" clients could be an extremely lucrative business in itself. No longer would typing "shoes" into the search window automatically lead the browser directly to Alan's Shoes Online Superstore (the owner of, but to a company that had paid for the privilege (see fig. 2.1).     It soon became apparent that staking claims to common domain names was not the equivalent of occupying the most desirable Internet real estate or, as many would have had us believe, of possessing a "brand" name of any substantial value. In fact, these commodity-sounding,,, and the like--did little more than reiterate to customers that these were indeed Internet furniture, drug, or garden supply vendors. Would customers really prefer to the values implicit in a brand name like Nordstrom Would the name confer any built-in advantage over, the online equivalent of a retail brand that already had the awareness and trust of tens of millions of people? Would customers flock to, or be predisposed to look first at the site promoted by a well-known cataloger such as Smith & Hawken or White Flower Farm?     Clearly, those who sought out the most descriptive brand names had in fact wound up with the most nondescript of positions. They had placed their stock in a strategy that was about using the Internet to exert large amounts of tactical pressure before the business had been allowed to develop any strong and individual brand meaning on its own.     With increasing frequency, customers are now bypassing their search engines, ignoring the message-deficient advertising of Web startups, and heading directly to deep brands already known and trusted. The formidable physical presence of these brands on the Internet is reinforced by the bookmarks that loyal customers place within their own browsers. It turns out that, for most companies, the new media doesn't require inventing specialized new trademarks after all. Using an existing brand name on the Internet has proven far more efficient than attempting to create new brands specifically for the Internet channel. Rather than depending upon the limited benefits of generic URLs, marketers need to build upon the uniqueness of their own brand names and attach greater value to them. Remember that a deep brand is the ultimate Internet search engine. People go to search engines when they don't know who can address their needs; they go to brands when they do .     If your company already possesses a known and legally protected brand name and was able to reserve that brand's corresponding URL, terrific. If, however, someone outside has already taken your name within your trademark category, don't hesitate to contact the URL-holder. You may be able to negotiate for the name you seek by putting a reasonable combination of cash and other items of value on the table. If the address remains unavailable, you can claim other forms of the brand without compromising your customer's ability to reach you online. For example, Concordia Inc., a family-owned business that has been producing specialized yarns for decades, may find that the Internet address is unavailable--but they can easily secure Concordia, Concordia, or even Concordia Precision For a company seeking to deepen a trade or niche brand (specialty brands directed at a relatively small audience), these more descriptive URLs may prove of even greater benefit in the long run. * * * Key Points º A deep brand is really the ultimate search engine. As time goes on, the depth of brands will continue to grow even more important in relation to generic "" addresses. º If your company name or brand name address is already spoken for, consider adding more descriptive words to the URL; it's sometimes best to choose obviousness and simplicity over an address of dubious mnemonic value. Chapter Three Is There Really Such a Thing as an Internet Business? Referring to a company as "an Internet business" is akin to calling any business that uses the telephone "a telephone business." Of course, there are those companies that make telephones, manage local telephone networks, sell long-distance services, build sophisticated switching stations, and mill tree trunks into telephone poles--businesses that rely on the continued growth and maintenance of telecommunications channels. But to call any "" an Internet business is misleading and (for the purposes of this book) confusing. As a programmatic element within the marketing plan, the Internet can be a powerful contributor to brand deepening, revenue, and profitability of a business. When viewed as the business program itself, the Internet is likely to be distracting, debilitating and dangerous.     For the purpose of greater clarity throughout the book, however, we will describe categories that distinguish businesses based upon their relative proximity to, and reliance upon, the Internet. Whereas a great many businesses will fall squarely into one category, there are many fine lines on the Internet, and it is not uncommon for companies (especially those with fuzzy and non-delineated strategies) to strive to occupy more than category at a time. The categories listed below are also more discriminating than generalizations about community, content, and commerce. Because each category represents different goals, different business requirements, and different values, one category must lead the others. With the exception of the narrowest markets, a business can't fill all three categories without injecting bias or confusion into the selling proposition.     The six categories of Internet-related business are Backbone Businesses Businesses such as Cisco, IBM, and Oracle sell the hardware and software infrastructures required to keep the Internet running. Browsers, for example, may be considered part of the Web infrastructure. While the Internet is becoming an increasingly important part of their businesses, these companies also sell products for use in other operating environments. Companies from the Internet side of the ledger are also increasingly finding themselves in competition with aggressive "outsiders." For example, Cox Communications (formerly Cox Cable) is attempting to cross over the boundaries between television, telephone, and computer networks by bringing them all into the house on a single line. Web-Bound Businesses These are inextricably tied to the Internet itself. (an "application service provider" of virtual online desktops for specialized or remote PC users) is a business idea dependent upon increasing the delivery of this utility via the Internet. Likewise, an Internet service provider such as is focused exclusively on improving and adding value to Web access. Information "portals" such as Yahoo, while rooted in the delivery of user-defined content, are also Web-bound businesses. However, note that even categorizing your business as Web-bound can be self-limiting. The recent acquisition of Time-Warner by America Online transformed America Online from a Web-bound company into one that encompasses almost every form of media. The introduction of a new generation of Internet accessories, from Web telephones to various forms of Web "appliances," is also forcing companies as diverse as Sony and Maytag to rethink how much of their future business will be bound to the Web. Paperless Publishers These businesses are owners-publishers of information that can be effectively transferred and/or manipulated by Internet applications. However, the Internet may not be their sole domain. Dow Jones is one of the best-known and most trusted brands for business and financial information, both online and off. Dr dispenses medical advice on the Internet only. Cat uses the Web to replicate the magazine's editorial content and then adds features especially suitable to the interactive environment. Content businesses can also take the form of Internet communities such as Third (for senior citizens), (for women), and (for college guys who lack a sufficient quorum of nearby drinking buddies). The communal functions of the Internet require a further investment in development of applications like Web-based e-mail, live "chat" messaging, and methods of peer-to-peer communications. Infomediary This business refers to a specialized form of content provider that supplies information to customers to facilitate the sale of another company's or individual's products or services. Auction sites like e-Bay and are examples of infomediaries, as are the growing number of vertical networks and trading hubs set up to streamline the transfer of information within specific industries. Because the most valuable piece of this business is an established relationship with the various sources of site listings and content, there have been recent moves by established trade associations (such as the National Fisheries Institute or National Sporting Goods Association) to occupy this position. Content providers and intermediaries typically make greater utilization of Web functions such as search engines, indexing, and a means of developing "preferred" links to outside product and service providers. Outsourced Marketing Service Providers These companies are engaged by other businesses to assist in the delivery of ancillary marketing programs. They may operate exclusively on the Internet or they may offer their Web services as an outgrowth of services already available through other channels. Companies that run incentive programs (Click, fill online advertising space (, or provide outsourced customer service manpower (Help are examples of these kinds of support businesses. Direct Merchants These companies are most often referred to when describing e-commerce. Direct sellers may utilize multiple channels of distribution (Dell, Toys `R' Us, Grainger, AMP) or they may be Web-specific (Outpost, e-Toys, CDNow). While practically all businesses on the Web use it to supplement their sales efforts in some way, direct-selling businesses are able to accept and fill orders online without any outside intervention. Participation as a direct merchant on the Internet requires that the company acquire or otherwise obtain expertise in a wide range of both marketing and operational disciplines, from the management of customer sales and service data to the back office functions like order taking and fulfillment.     Finally, there are all the businesses (probably including yours) that have no true Internet dependency yet endeavor to use the Web as part of their ongoing outreach, marketing communications, and customer-servicing programs. Of the Web business types reviewed above, note that only the Web-bound businesses can truly be described as "Internet businesses," companies whose brands are centered precisely upon Internet use. For everyone else, the Internet is only part of the story. It's more than just a matter of semantics. You may be a bookseller, a publisher of repair manuals or fashion magazines, a trader of scrap iron or antique furniture ... but you are not an Internet business any more than you are a telephone business or a fax machine business.     With so many exciting new business applications coming online, companies often try to impress customers with their latest Internet capabilities, and they tend to equate those capabilities with some future business success. Never lose sight of the fact that the key to business success--to provide a well-identified customer group with a needed product or service in the most valued and expedient way--doesn't change. It's an interesting dichotomy. Looking to the Internet for help in defining your brand and business strategy will leave you staring at an empty screen. But concentrating on fundamental issues surrounding your business in terms other than those associated with the Internet will bring you a rush of exciting, productive, and brand-deepening ideas that you can use to your immediate advantage and gain. * * * Key Points º Customers don't need to "buy some Internet"; rather, they have needs that some programmatic element of the Internet may satisfy. º Focused marketers and brandholders will enter only one or two of the several Internet-related categories that advance core business requirements. º Be aware that while you may borrow some elements from Internet-related business, the features you emulate will only produce a measurable return when they actually increase the customer's access, control, or value. Copyright (c) 2000 Marc Braunstein and Edward H. Levine. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
How to Navigate This Bookp. xix
Part 1 The Internet and the Brand: Is Your Brand Really Any Different?
1. No Magic Bulletp. 3
2. A URL Is Not a Brandp. 6
3. Is There Really Such a Thing as an Internet Business?p. 11
4. A Few Moments on Internet Timep. 17
Part 2 The Deep Branding Idea: A Powerful Way to Think About Marketing
5. The Intangible Brandp. 25
6. Brand Heatp. 30
7. Brand Pressurep. 36
8. The Deep Brand Formulap. 54
Part 3 Characteristics of Deep Brands: Put Your Own to the Test
9. How You Can Tell If a Brand Is Deepp. 59
10. What Good Is a Deep Brand Anyway?p. 66
11. Where Does Your Brand Fit on the Brandscape?p. 69
12. Ten Fallacies About Internet Brandingp. 76
Part 4 Marketing Communications and the Internet: Making the Most of Your Tactical Investment
13. Advertising Your Business on the Internetp. 85
14. Online Advertising Decision Makingp. 89
15. Where Should You Advertise Online?p. 93
16. Tracking the Effectiveness of Online Advertisingp. 97
17. Virtual PRp. 100
18. Mining the Portalsp. 105
19. Lessons from the Direct Marketersp. 113
20. The Web's Most Effective (and Cheapest) Marketing Toolp. 117
Part 5 What Makes the Internet Unique: Watchwords for Your Strategy Team
21. Brand Deepening from the Inside Out...p. 123
22. ... And from the Outside Inp. 127
23. Technology Alone Won't Make a Differencep. 131
24. Bandwidth Is Brandwidth: Growth and Convergence on the Internetp. 135
Part 6 The Online Customer: Do Your Priorities Match Theirs?
25. Users Are Not Customersp. 149
26. Stand by Your Brand: Customer Loyalty on the Internetp. 153
27. Customer Service on the Linep. 158
28. Information or Knowledge?p. 164
29. Why Consumers Are Moving Toward the Internetp. 169
30. High-Touch Selling in a High-Tech Worldp. 175
31. Values of Internet Connectivityp. 182
32. Sex and the Single Browserp. 189
33. The Online Customer Journeyp. 194
Part 7 The Internet Channel: Making the Most of Your Company's Value Chain
34. Bytes, Bricks, or Both?p. 207
35. The Distributor End-Aroundp. 211
36. A New Role for Distributionp. 215
37. Bricks-and-Mortar Backfillp. 220
38. Two Channels Are Better Than Onep. 225
39. Multi-Channel Masteryp. 230
40. Building an Online Buzz at Retailp. 237
41. The Next Wal-Mart of the Internetp. 241
42. David and Goliath on the Internet: Why Smaller Can Be Betterp. 246
43. Customization, Immediacy, and Value (Lessons from Amazon)p. 250
Part 8 The Economics of the Internet: Watching the Numbers
44. Getting Big Costs ... But Does It Pay?p. 259
45. The Biggest Bang for the Buckp. 266
46. A Conversation with Investorsp. 272
Part 9 Online Sales Promotion: How Much of It Should You Do?
47. Sweepstakes and Other Incentivesp. 283
48. Spreading the Virusp. 292
49. Marketing Through Affiliationp. 296
Part 10 Thinking Deep: Taking the Next Steps
50. The Truth Is More Important Than the Factsp. 305
51. Envision Before You Investp. 314
52. A Brand Depth Surveyp. 324
53. Five Signs That Brand Issues May Be Stunting Company Growthp. 327
54. The Internet Imperativep. 331
55. The Search for Vacanciesp. 336
56. Report from the Fieldp. 342
57. Think Deep (Words to Brand By)p. 352
Success Questionnairep. 357
Glossaryp. 359
Bibliographyp. 362
www.deepbranding.comp. 371
Indexp. 373