Be The Prince of Branding - How to Tame and Establish Ties with your Visitors

NicolasJohnson

Dormant account
The other day I was talking to a Russian friend about books, and she mentioned to me that her favorite author was Dostoyevsky, to which I replied that the only book I know of that man is Crime and Punishment. She told me about how in her home country they force middle school kids to read it before they are ready to understand it, and she dislikes it because of that reason of being forced to read it too young.

So from there the conversation turned to books that children are forced to read too early. I mentioned the Little Prince, which I was forced to read at the tender age of 10, and I basically told her to me that book is more for adults than for children.

Days after this conversation, I was in the position of trying to explain to someone what branding is and why it is so important. So I remembered my talk with my Russian friend and I remembered the little prince. Especially this part:

It was then that the fox appeared.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."
"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.

"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"
"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean--'tame'?"
"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"
"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."
"'To establish ties'?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."
"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
"Please--tame me!" he said.
"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."
"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . ."
"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."
The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near

"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."
First I would like to say that while the little prince deals with personal relations, we are dealing with commercial relations, so everything wont translate 100%, but I still find it very useful.

When a visitor comes to 99% of sites, it is like the first encounter between the little prince and the fox. The visitor is generally not tamed. The average webmaster may get him to click on one banner and may get him as a player in one casino, but that is it.

But could you imagine how much more that visitor would be worth if he came back again and again, signing up at different casinos and spending more because of your suggestions? Well, that is what branding is all about!

So how do you build branding for your site?

Well, there is no silver bullet, but there are some things you can do to help increase the changes that your portal will go from ordinary, to an extra-ordinary brand like APCW, Games and Casino or Casinomeister.

* Incorporate things People will Recognize
Remember that part of the above text that mentions
My life is very monotonous you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat.
Some very big brands include some pre-existing elements to it, whether unknown (like Google and goggle) or well known (like Apple). If your brand either means something, or is an abbreviation of something or is a slight deviation from a known word, that can help it be more easily recognized and remembered.

* Stand out from the crowd
Something that wasnt included in the dialogue between the fox and the little prince, was that the prince and the fox have something unique their smell. I think we have all had the experience of being somewhere without our wives/husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends and smelling their perfume/cologne on a stranger and thinking of that person.
Well a website cant produce a smell yet, but it certainly can stand out. A unique and memorable logo will help with that effort as well as a good color scheme. But there is more to it. Unique reporting styles (like J. Todds distinct videos) can also help build a brand.

* Be Seen Often
Most people use some combination of facebook, likedin, myspace, twitter, youtube, blogspot, digg, among other web 2.0 social interaction sites. You can create a free profile here, which generally will look something like twitter.com/your-brand. This not only will help expose people to your brand, but it will also get you some good free one way links. So what are you waiting for? Go get those free profiles.
Also, mention them on your website, so people can add you to their facebook and other such sites.

* Get Closer and Closer to Your Users and Let them Get Close too!
Static sites are sooooo Web 1.0. There is nothing wrong with a good static site. But if you have users on your site, it would be so much better to allow them to participate. This not only lets them get closer, but also builds content on your site which Google and other SEs just seem to love.
And there seem to be so many options for you to allow users to contribute content. Whether with a Blog, comments and special plug ins that help bring the top commenters to the front page of the blog, or a forum, contests, or a social network, there are many creative ways for you to get closer to your visitors.

* Observe the Proper Rites
Just as the fox would prefer the little prince to return on regular intervals and at the same time, so would your users like to receive updates on a regular basis. I for one always remembered that Perspectives weekly would come up every Friday, and when I could I would set aside some time to view the video in the afternoon with my coffee. It was almost a ritual. I looked forward to the moment, as it gave me a pleasant break from my duties.
So be like the little prince and J Todd. Give you users regular updates. Whether it is an update to your blog, a new newsletter, new contests every week on your forum or whatever. Make sure you do it regularly, and all the time. Many times blog software and newsletter sending services/software allow you to program this in advance, so that you can prepare the material any day between one update and the other, and just leave it in the system to send out on the exact date you normally send it out on.

* You are responsible for what you tame
The foxs words of wisdom resonate through the different aspects of our lives and through time. If you recommend to your visitors to deposit in a known rogue, and they get burnt, you may not be legally responsible, but in terms of Karma, IMHO, you are. Not only that, they will never trust you again. Worse, they wont trust affiliate portals as much anymore. So keep a clean house, and do your research. If you only visit affiliate forums, try to stop by at player advocate sites also, like casinomeister.

If any of you have any tips on building branding, feel free to add them here.
BTW, I know this post is neither a complete nor in-depth analysis of branding. Branding is a very complex subject, which has hundreds of books written on it, each with hundreds of pages. Im not trying to substitute proper branding research, just to give a brief overview on the subject and hopefully spark a little conversation where all the participants can expand their knowledge. Also, this post is being made in multiple forums, hope you all don't mind :)

Kind Regards,
Nicolas Johnson
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AussieDave

Dodgy whacko backstabber
I know this post is neither a complete nor in-depth analysis of branding. Branding is a very complex subject, which has hundreds of books written on it, each with hundreds of pages.
Thanks Nicolas for taking the time out to share this thought provoking post :thumbsup:

I tend to think that sometimes one can get too absorbed into marketing books. Although I believe they have their place & value, I tend to get bored with them. I much prefer to test things out in the Wild.

I will say that I opened a site almost 2 years ago, ran a TV campaign and a few other things. Traffic wasn't my main objective but Branding was. Least to say within a month of the ads (a two month ad campaign) I was getting hit with people searching for just the site name. The ads did look hot!


Cheers
T
 

NicolasJohnson

Dormant account
Hi Trezz,

I'm glad you liked the post!

Being a person that is passionate about science, I'm big on experimentation. In fact, I used to work on the SEO side of things, and I always would be testing theories out. Unfortunately it isn't as easy to create control tests of branding, since it is generally a long term/high price thing. But it is great to hear your experience.

Did you by any chance upload that ad to youtube or something so I can see it?

Kind Regards,
Nicolas Johnson
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Thanks Nicolas for taking the time out to share this thought provoking post :thumbsup:

I tend to think that sometimes one can get too absorbed into marketing books. Although I believe they have their place & value, I tend to get bored with them. I much prefer to test things out in the Wild.

I will say that I opened a site almost 2 years ago, ran a TV campaign and a few other things. Traffic wasn't my main objective but Branding was. Least to say within a month of the ads (a two month ad campaign) I was getting hit with people searching for just the site name. The ads did look hot!


Cheers
T
 
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