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The Impossibility of creating an online brand

If you haven't bought all your Christmas presents today, you're going to be in trouble tomorrow as Santa should be arriving. If you don't have kids yet, then you're pretty much in the clear.

I have been thinking a lot about branding in these days, and in particular the notion of online branding. Online branding what is that? Well that's the term many companies have coined to convince businesses to part with large sums of money to create an online brand.

In fact I feel less and less that it is really possible to create brands online without spending huge amounts of money or without an offline PR campaign. Consider that Amazon now has an online brand and they spent $55 million in Google Adwords advertising alone in 2013. It was founded nearly 20 years ago and you will still find people who have never heard of them.

The following infographic does a decent job of communicating the flow of money changing hands when it comes to getting exposure on the world-wide-web. Looking at Google Adwords revenues as the largest paid advertising network.

A lot of money is changing hands but are these companies building brand or sales? The problem with paid advertising is that it is largely addressing an immediate need.

I recently purchased a designer dog bed from ZEIPET for my dog Doodles, and what I thought about was how effectively they had branded and closed all the touch-points a consumer has to go through when engaging with their brand. I was only able to find their store through chance by doing some concerted searching down on the second pages of the results pages. How many other companies are there like these. Considering that there is a drop off of 40% between position #1 and position #2, what we are in fact arriving at is the following: Or you are position #1 or you are not making any sales.

Once upon a time it might have been possible to create a brand online through the fact that there was a lot less people competing. Now there is so much revenue being made from paid advertising that you will need lots of money to get what was once free exposure.

It's completely fascinating the way that advertising and PR have come full circle and how it can now it make economic sense to invest in offline PR whereas once upon a time all the new media pundits were telling us that old school branding was dead because you couldn't track anything from a full-page spread in a newspaper.

Quite a lot of thinking material in there, but I wish you all a great Xmas.