This is as much a food for thought post as it is a Q & A or "about me" (you and me) thread.
I was just listing to WebmasterRadio.fm, to a recent broadcast in the Domain Masters section, on domains and branding. I've got a few directory domains and thought it would be interesting to filter my work through brand analysis . . so I listened.
When I looked at the branding issues and applied the speaker's analysis to my own projects I was left with the question: "What, exactly, is my company's brand?" :(
I've got a UVP - Unique Value Proposition - that's built into the directory domains themselves. I've got a few that work well for vertical markets. I've got some ideas about scope and quality. Sure, maybe they're great web addresses, but . . so what? I could hear the voice of the market ask: "Yeah? So what? So, what else you got, kid?"
So I scrambled to dig out my notes and could see that "the brand" was "in there" - in the larger scheme of presentation and operation - but it lacked a certain "Umph!", a certain defined quality, a meta-clarity.
But I'm not quite alone. As I scan the directory horizon I can see the absence of distinction, both far and wide. So, allow me to ask, ye of the undistinguished and distinguished directory ranks . . .
As it applies to any directory that you operate, support or use allow me to ask you this: What makes your directory [i]or any directory you use so special? Got brand?[/i]
Do you really think so?
To cite a few - a very few - examples:
YellowPages.com? Man, if I could have a domain name . . . . but I sort, do of. Instant "brand as the name is the thing itself". With a website address like that you start out in the game well ahead on points . . so don't blow your lead in the game.
SmartPages? Eh . . yeah, it's like yellow pages, but . .
ODP/DMOZ? Man, I like their stuff, their approach . . but getting the word out? Does the "dragon" do it for me?
The Yahoo Directory has Yahoo! as their brand. However, as the years passed, Yahoo buried their directory. Good idea or bad?
BOTW? They've got the "age as endorsement" factor going and they use it. They've been around. They offer a nice clean interface. Greg, as the face or spokesperson of the enterprise, is effective, gets the job done. I've yet to hang with the BOTW boys but I read that they are a fun group. What's not to like about that, especially if you also run a referral program? I like to refer folks to people I know and they do a great job of getting to know people. (We'll get around to meeting some day. :-P )
Other directories? There are many that promote themselves - mostly in forums - but I think they degrade their message by allowing (encouraging?) an over abundance of forum links to be associated with their directory and semi-cheesey posts. 1 or 2 of the better known directory operators that rely on this technique (I'm trying to minimize "naming names") are operated by very smart guys, folks who've got their internet marketing game on. Still, when it comes to brand, I don't know. Maybe, in the effort to build a following, some directories compromise the strength of their brand by their very efforts to market their directory.
True or false: In the effort to build a directory's presence - it's recognition - can the marketing of the directory undercut the brand? How? How might one improve upon that?
What IS a directory's brand? Its link structure and presentation? It's directory name? The customer experience - loads fast, comprehensive, easy to search?
So, without naming names (mostly), what's:
a) Your idea or presentation of brand? What makes "your brand your brand"?
b) In the directory world what makes or breaks branding?
c) IF a directory cannot gain the gravity that brand has to offer can that directory thrive? No brand = another clone?
d) In the directory realm what is brand? Is it domain name? User experience? Editorial policy? Ya, all of the above and more . . but . . still . . is that it? Logo? User interface? What do you "add to your brand"?
Since we're in the Directory Forum, where some folks think that spamming is the way to go, allow me to spell out a few GROUND RULES: Anyone who has less than 25 posts to their credit OR who has been a member for less than a month - IF you post anything that even comes close to looking like a pump or a promo - that may result in your posting privileges coming to a halt. So don't go there. I don't want to know about your directory's name or URL. What I DO want to read about is how you approach branding: How you will stand out and attact loyal users. I don't want to read a sales pitch, see hotlink or directory name drop.
[edited by: Webwork at 6:06 pm (utc) on July 13, 2007]