Where once cyberspace inspired awe, the Internet has now become boring. Graphic content has become more important than content. This compromise has stimulated thinking about the virtual aspects surrounding e-commerce and e-branding.
Although the first companies to put the on-line idea into practice have been successful, their success is hardly sustainable. With the recent fall of Lastminute.com and Boo.com in mind, surviving ventures can obviously not walk a straight branding path to survive.
Most e-ventures listed on the stock market have spent huge amounts on brand building exercises, involving advertising in traditional media. You have to ask why – surely with all those pounds dumped in the ‘creative industries’ there could have been a bit more creative input on Internet branding strategies.
Is the creative industry prepared to deal with virtual brands where there are no tailfins to experiment with? Virtual enterprises normally consist of a service, name and a website as the only point of contact. That’s it. There are no products, no human contact.
E-ventures are protesting against the running order, the old economy and old ways of buying, selling and making money. Where there are protests there are normally prophets. Lastminute.com’s Martha was originally hailed as a prophet for the new economy. However, she – like the Boo.com founders – has gone from prophet to martyr in less than six months. It is unlikely anyone will remember her as someone who broke frontiers.
Research suggests shopping on-line is dependent on a strong and already known brand name behind any e-venture. A human point of contact is also something that comes up. But at the same time the Internet promises to be the consumers’ champion, reducing prices and improving the quality of people’s lives.
How do you solve this paradox when you try to brand e-ventures?