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Your company's identity is not just your logo, your marketing, or the way you present yourself. In fact, it's not even necessarily who or what you really are.
Just as your brand is what people think of your product, your corporate identity is what people think of your company. That shared perception is shaped by the many different interactions a customer, outside entity or the public at large has with you - from seeing an ad to buying a product or interacting with an employee.
Corporate identity, then, is impossible to fully control. It can only be managed by attempting to consistently exhibit the company's most attractive defining characteristics in as many ways as possible. That requires developing marketing that accurately reflects the corporate culture, expressing its inherent positive qualities that are most important to customers.
A company's corporate identity can help or hinder its performance. A strong, positive corporate identity shaped by consistent messages can help generate sales and build customer loyalty. On the other hand, conflicting messages create confusion, uncertainty and distrust among customers, which is why a company should never portray itself as something it's not. The truth will invariably come out through the many ways it interacts with the world.
To manage corporate identity for maximum benefit, companies must:
In the early days of the Internet, many companies built fancy websites and shelled out some money for banner advertisements, and called it a day. At the time, that seemed like enough - and perhaps it was. Today, online marketing has become much more nuanced and varied, and people have become more practiced, savvy online consumers. As a result, online marketing can be extremely effective, a complete waste of time, or downright damaging to your reputation.
Today, to effectively communicate your identity online, you must first understand how your customers use the Internet. Are they early adapters or unwilling latecomers? How advanced is the technology that they own? Do they visit websites of companies like yours, and for what purpose? Do they value frequent communication or do they want to be left alone? Do they open emails? Do they read e-newsletters? What websites and chat rooms do they visit? Which ISPs and search engines do they use? What do they expect from you in terms of your online presence?
People's expectations of corporate websites have changed in many ways, including:
The good news in online marketing is that companies have the ability to effectively, specifically, and often inexpensively target new or potential customers, with a little planning and research.
The bad news is that new issues have arisen that impact companies' abilities to aggressively advertise and market online, such as:
Norwin A. Merens is managing director of Glenview, IL-based NM Marketing Communications, an integrated B2B marketing, public relations and trade show/ special events management firm. He may be reached by calling 847.657.6011 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more at www.nmmarketingbiz.com
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