Your Aura Is Your Brand
By Johann Sebastian S., Thu Dec 8th
About two weeks ago I unveiled my emotional sentiment to thiswonderful lady friend of mine I have known for several months.Over a simple dinner on a Friday night, I shifted up the gear toultimately culminate in an unforgotten moment - disclosing howI've come to admire her and proposing to explore therelationship further.
Unfortunately her reply wasn't the kind every mortal man evercraved for. Citing differences in character, she yanked the plugand put me in an absolutely zero voltage; in short, a totalrejection.
Whatever the final chapter of this would-be long and arduousstory is totally irrelevant to the central theme of this column.I was actually more amazed at how, in the course of two months,I subliminally managed to generate my aura of skepticism - oneof personal nature she admittedly will never put up with.
Interestingly, I have received similar responses from those Iknow who allegedly observe that particular aura from things Isay and my approach to various endeavors. To sum it up in amarketing context, skepticism is MY BRAND.
My brand? Could an individual possibly have a brand? Forstarters, little that we know that our aura -- driven in someways by our characters, inner feelings, the way we talk, how wedress -- implicitly tells the world who we are and what they can(and should) expect from us. Our aura is analogous to consumers'expectations of a brand. Our aura is our brand.
Implementing this concept to online branding takes into accountthe fact that the Internet is now a primary destination ofAmericans for finding information, according to last Decembersurvey by Pew Internet and American Life Project. As peoplenavigate your website to search for your products, services, andcompany information, it should consistently deliver your brandidentity and conveys value propositions across pages. By now,your website should be a critical part of your entirebrand-building efforts, far beyond electronic brochure. Likeyou, it generates an aura, and the aura is the brand.
Resembling broadcast and print media, online interaction iscapable of educating users of your brand promise and how it canrealize that promise into distinctive value. What's more, theInternet enables longer interaction than the typical 30-secondspot in traditional media - a unique advantage in informationsearch -- allowing bigger breathing space to ingrain yourmessage by capitalizing on site elements. Basics such ascontent, colors, layout, and language style, as well as featureslike online survey, sweepstakes, or video, must incorporate andcommunicate your brand promise.
A case in point is ESP Guitars, whose guitars are recognizedamong
the guitar-playing community as the weapon of choice forheavy, rock-oriented music. Coming in intimidating shape,hot-rodded parts, as well as eerie finishes, ESP guitars areassociated with personas and bands with unforgiving image -- thelikes of Metallica's Kirk Hammet, Jeff Hanneman of Slayer,Sepultura, and solo artist George Lynch. Interestingly, despiteits lengthy list of endorsing artists of various musicalorientations, ESP only manufacture signature guitars for aselected few of rock players.
Upon arriving at the gateway page that is adored with threebizarre-looking musicians in your average rocker fashion, youwill instantly get the idea of what constitutes the ESP name -hard and fast music, independence, freedom, anti-establishmentattitude.
Going further into the homepage, you will come across interviewsand news on rock guitarists ESP touts as its unofficialspokespersons. There is an interview with Kirk Hammet, Metallicagiveaway info, review of radical-shaped LTD Devil Girl guitar(see the name?), as well as tour updates on Danzig and Soulfly -two of the last defenders of heavymetal.
A bit to the bottom you will find a thumbnail image that leadsyou to a page showcasing ESP's custom guitars in, you guess it -flashy graphics and uncanny designs.
ESP doesn't shy away from more conventional designs and 'softer'players such as Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, but they arerelatively insignificant - at least judging from a visit to thesite. And unless you care enough to dig deeper into theartist-list page, all you will encounter is how ESP guitars candeliver the sound you need for playing heavy riffs and fastlicks.
The incorporation of the news, product info, images, andendorsing artists educates new prospects of ESP brand and whatit promises to deliver, while reinforcing its image andcharacter to those already familiar with the brand. Would it bethe same if ESP mimicked Gibson guitars website? Considering thesite's something-for-everyone impression that bolstersconsumers' already-ingrained perspective of the Gibson name, ESPwould likely confuse its loyal customers and drive prospectiveplayers to competing brands that are just a click away.
Your website is too important an element to be left alone as anelectronic brochure. As the Internet has been shown to be aneffective brand-building medium by various research, yourwebsite must be an integral element of your overall brandingstrategy. Like you, it generates an aura, and the aura is thebrand.
the author:Johann is an Internet Marketing Consultant at Microsoft TheBusiness
Internet Competency Center in Jakarta, Indonesia.