Internet. Internet. Internet. Brand. Brand. Brand. No, it doesn’t
seem to be working. It doesn’t matter how many times you say those two
words, or how closely you try to associate them, they still don’t seem
to go together.
When you talk to an internet company, the marketing chief will
confidently tell you that they are engaged in building a brand and that
they have the money to do it.
Not just money, but a lot of money. Even in Europe we are well into the
realm of internet companies with advertising and marketing budgets that
are hitting the dollars 50 million-plus mark.
In the first few weeks of this year alone we have seen Letsbuyit.com
launch a global dollars 100 million campaign, Ebooks.com with dollars 74
million and Justpeople.com with dollars 24 million. And that’s the tip
of the iceberg.
But it seems that such is the race to grab market share and market
leadership of various categories that internet companies are pushing for
ad campaigns to be rolled out in no time. It’s like a digital
blitzkrieg. They want to build a brand and, like the internet itself, it
has to be done quickly.
But as internet companies are learning - or will soon realise -
successful brands are not built overnight.
IBM, Apple and Intel worked at it for years. As did Coca-Cola,
McDonald’s and British Airways. It took a long time and several failed
attempts to get it right.
Spending vast amounts of money telling people that they should buy stuff
from you on the web is not brand building.
The frenzy is, perhaps, understandable. There is a great deal to be done
and it has to be done yesterday, because today someone else has launched
a similar company into the same space as your brilliant idea.
So you have to start shouting. But while you are busy doing that, staff
have to be hired, websites have to be built, developed and maintained
and the venture capital people want to get sales going and page
impressions moving so you had better get advertising.
It is a vicious circle and a lot to juggle. But, time pressures aside,
there is another problem: a lot of these companies are not even sure of
their own defining attributes.
Ask someone who works at Apple why they are there and they will explain
that it is a brilliant technology company. Ask someone why they work for
e-commerce company number 871, established since Friday last week, and
it will probably have something do with the stock, or having an MBA.
There are exceptions, but they are few and far between, and these
companies tend to have been established for a little bit longer.
Companies that have had the space to breathe and to develop before this
insanely competitive catch-22 period took hold are notable for not
sporting brands built at a break-neck speed.
That is what it comes down to. The time factor. Too little of it. That’s
why the words ’brand’ and ’internet’ do not go together. Well, that and
the laws of physics and not being able to break them. I had better be
careful now - my roots are showing.
Edited by Gordon MacMillan Tel: 0181-267 4904 E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org campaign website: www.campaignlive.com.