The Top Ten Internet Brands: Learn from their Success Strategies
A review of the top ten Internet brands brings to light a group of successful branding strategies. These are companies that researched their markets extensively, developed their products and services to meet consumer need and preference, and then planned and executed the brand building strategies that propelled them to the top of the industry – the most recognizable and popular businesses on the Internet.
Here are the top ten companies in terms of brand recognition, strength and profit potential. They all operate globally, taking full advantage of available web media to promote themselves and sell their products. They all provide products and services targeted toward business and consumer use, and aim to improve the fortunes and the lives of the consumers they attract. Consider their beginnings, strategies and current industry standings and see what you can learn about brand building from their stories.
1. Google – not a surprise, really. The company began as a user-friendly search engine and branched out by offering other services- all geared toward the user. It continued to grow by partnering with other entities and acquiring smaller companies to increase offerings. Google marketed itself as a user dedicated, non –greed oriented company that was considerate of the environment and has benefited from positive, wide spread word of mouth publicity. Its logo is widely recognized and is customized for special occasions and holidays. As with most of the Internet services based companies, it offers free products that can eventually lead into paid services that users ‘graduate’ to purchasing. Much of the company’s revenue comes from innovative advertising sales programs.
2. Yahoo – This older Internet access portal survived the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s by partnering with other companies and making wise acquisitions and additions to its range of services. The brand remains vital, some say, because it recognizes that brand building on the Internet largely depends on offering logically simple products that work well for the all important user. Advertising services account for about 88% of Yahoo’s revenue.
3. MSN/Windows Live - The current brand, Windows Live, was formed by Microsoft when the company rebranded MSN and many of its services, adding new ones that dovetail with its VISTA operating system. It covers information, personal connections and special interest software. There was some initial confusion in the rebranding, but as VISTA use spreads, it appears to be diminishing. As with other Microsoft software, brand dissemination is enhanced by programs preinstalled on new computers.
4. Microsoft – This software giant began operation in 1975 and became widely known as the market for home computers accelerated. Today, it operated three divisions – Business, Entertainment and Devices. A long history of acquisitions, legal disputes and innovative product offerings have resulted in both positive and negative publicity, and some say that the company’s strategy of emulating and then eliminating the competition has gained it almost singular status in its field, but at the cost of much customer goodwill.
5. AOL Media Network – AOL began as one of the first paid internet portals. The company found its niche market by catering to the non-computer literate customers at the advent of personal computing. Over the years, reports of dubious practices involving issues like customer service, billing, etc cost the company subscribers, but brand loyalty has carried the company through troubled times and it remains one of the largest service providers in the industry.
6. YouTube – The appealing concept of video sharing for everyone brought YouTube to the forefront of Internet companies. Some services rank only Google and Yahoo ahead of YouTube in terms of online traffic. In fact, it is now a subsidiary of Google, and is banned in some countries due to its unregulated content. This brand has succeeded by making the user its complete focus.
7. Fox Interactive Media – a conglomerate brand created by its parent company, Newscorp, this brand is basically an umbrella set up to organize the media arms of Fox TV, Fox Sports and Fox News, and offer advanced interactive media services online to support those media outlets.
8. Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia is the only top media brand that is a non-profit enterprise. Worldwide reach and language translation has built the brand, along with Interactive principles similar to that of YouTube. Despite criticism of it reliability, Wikipedia remains popular as a quick and straightforward information source. Its unique logo pictures a puzzle piece globe, partially assembled with contributions from around the globe.
9. eBay – this popular brand has become the gold standard for online auctions and shopping. The company also owns Paypal, the online money transfer system that has greatly assisted its own operation. Charity auctions and auctions of famous objects have created publicity for the business, which operates around the globe, offering buyers and sellers the advantage of a worldwide audience.
10. Apple – The computer hardware and software company that began with a niche as an educational leader, the company established its brand with hardware innovations such as the laptop, ipod, iphone and other products. Apple built its brand with innovation and created a reputation as a maverick company. The Apple logo, a silhouette of the fruit with a bite missing has evolved from multi color to monochromatic over the years and is one of the most easily recognized in the world.
What do most of these companies have in common in terms of branding that can be used to step up your company’s brand building efforts? Here’s a short list, see if you can add to it:
• Brands convey a user-centered company image
• Most brands offer at least some free or low cost services
• Brands suggest highly innovative products and/or advertising
• Brands suggest some philanthropic or community involvement – building loyalty
• Brands have developed memorable logos
• Companies have developed unique products or missions as a foundation upon which to build their brands.