There has been so much discussion about building brands online some meaningful and some completely misguided that I thought I might offer my somewhat unique perspective of a marketer who works specifically with manufacturers and their dealers to build brands both on and off-line.
In most cases, the ultimate goal of brand building is to create a preferred brand for which the customer is happy to pay a premium. There are a number of steps necessary to achieve this (you'll find those in other posts on this site), but it starts with relevant and stated differentiation of the brand. Simply put, it's a clearly articulated line that states exactly what sets your brand apart from your competitors. In my opinion, there is no more important step in brand building than this one. Why? Because if you don't have a compelling reason (your brand's position) for your customers to buy your product over your competitors', then in the words of brand positioning guru, Jack Trout, "You'd better have a good price."
Great, you say. But what does all of that have to do with building a brand in Helvetica 12 point type?
Glad you asked.
Take a look at the paid results from a Google search I conducted for the terms "best all terrain vehicle." Two PPC ads showed up one for John Deere and one for Can-Am and yes, both in approximately 12 pt. Helvetica type.
The only descriptor John Deere's ad provides is the word "...Premium...".
Can-Am, on the other hand, positions their brand as the "...Ultimate Mud Machine...". If the customer is looking for an ATV that can pretty much handle the toughest of terrains specifically mud which ad do you think contributes to differentiating the brand better? I'll let you figure that one out on your own.
Yes, brand building happens online...in the same way it happens offline. Through experiences with the brand, through colors and images, through sounds and ambiance...and most definitely in Helvetica 12 point type particularly when that type is crafted into words which tell a story that separates you from your competition.
So go ahead. Build your brand online. Just don't forget that it happens the same way it happens offline by differentiating yourself from your competition.