Four Ways VARs Can Build Their Brands
Those of us who have worked for large companies know that “branding” comes with a 462 page document called The Branding Guidelines. If you read the document cover to cover you would find out how much space needs to be open around a logo in a document or presentation, how the company’s name can and cannot be written, and how each and every product needs to be referenced. But can branding guidelines help small VARs? You bet. Here are four quick tips…
…to help VARs with branding:
- Make your name original: I learned this very important rule from marketing expert and social media guru David Meerman Scott. Growing up I had a last name to end all last names Loitherstein. While it was a mouthful and no one EVER spelled it right, it was original. If you searched Heather Loitherstein everything that came up was about me or one article about my brother Scott Loitherstein and someone else named Heather. Now, if you search for Heather Margolis you get content on 30 people who aren’t me, content about me, and content on the most downloaded woman of 2003 Cindy Margolis – not related. To better differentiate myself online I always, I mean ALWAYS use my middle initial: Heather K. Margolis is how you will find me all over the web.
- Consistency is Key: Use your name, company and personal, the same way everywhere. This not only keeps the integrity of your company or personal branding but it also makes you easier to find on the internet. One of the worst things CA (formerly Computer Associates) did was to change to the acronym CA. It’s one thing to search IBM, HP, or EMC, because they aren’t a group of letters that would ever form a word, but search CA and you get everything from Cat to California Waterfowl Association. We all know why they changed it but did they have to use CA?
- Control the buzz: Are people talking about you? Chances are if you’re putting your brand or your name out there to be noticed, they are. It’s so important that you know what they are saying and where so you can either thank them and comment or engage in debate. Google alerts notify you as soon as something is posted. I have alerts set up for Channel Maven, Channel Maven Consulting, Heather K. Margolis, Heather Margolis, and a bunch of my clients. This way I know what is being said and can respond immediately.
- Ambiguity doesn’t work on the web: In business school everyone talked about embracing the ambiguity. Great when you’re talking strategy internally, not great on the web. When people see your website, your LinkedIn profile, your twitter account they need to know in 3 seconds or less what value you are going to provide to them. Make it simple and if you’re name is not, you need to overcompensate everywhere else. Channel Maven Consulting, you know I’m in the Channel, I think I’m smart, and I’m a Consultant.
This is just the tip of the iceberg but a foundation that is really important to get right before starting to launch your Social Media/SEO initiatives. Important to a channel organization but also important to VAR’s, SI’s, and MSP’s. Brand your company and yourself.
I’d love to hear other tips or horror stories around good or bad online branding practices.
Contributing blogger Heather K. Margolis, the Channel Maven, has led channel programs for major IT companies. She also has extensive lead generation and marketing experience. Follow The VAR Guy via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; Twitter; and via his Newsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center. Plus, visit www.VARtweet.com.