Headstart: Brands – Vying for attention online.

Coca-cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE and Nokia are the top brands in the world. But there are plenty of other brands vying for the top positions, all of them instantly recognisable, which, of course, is what a strong brand should be.

In a rapidly shrinking world, with increasingly homogeneous products, often the only way one company can differentiate its products from those of the competition is through its brand.

This is particularly true in accountancy – much time, effort and money has been spent by firms trying to show they are different from the competition.

So if you are looking to revamp your brand, or to create one in the first place, can you get help on the web?

Brand management agencies have embraced the internet, recognising how the web can be harnessed to push a brand around the world.

Interbrand has a good site, www.interbrand. com, which gives a useful insight into the mind of the brand manager. The address takes you to brandchannel.com, but one click brings up Interbrand.

It is fast, flash and doesn’t rely on any particular browser, instead using its own arrow keys for navigation. As such, navigation couldn’t be simpler.

Its case studies are informative, and if you ever wondered who came up with the names for Rover’s Metro and Maestro, the answer is here.

It is also worth going back to its subsidiary site, www.brandchannel.com.

This is a fascinating discussion site that doesn’t shy away from controversial issues.

Last week it discussed the United States brand and before that, the branding of God.

As well as the intellectual stuff it has a comprehensive book list, all of which can be bought online – well, via amazon.com actually, another example of brand strength.

Brand Finance (www.brandfinance.com) is not quite as exciting, perhaps because it dares to throw accounting and valuations into the pot.

It seeks to bridge the gap between marketing and finance, which can sometimes look more like a chasm. Its latest report on brand valuation is available free online, as are a number of other reports.

Unfortunately, it is let down by the inclusion of an editorial which is over ten months old – surely one of the lessons is to keep the brand, and therefore its content, fresh and up-to-date.

That said, it drives home the message that companies really can leverage off their brand, which in turn adds to the bottom line.

As one of the grand masters of brand management, Wolff Olins’ site (www.wolff-olins.com) has a good design, but the content is limited. The site makes a bold claim: ‘Wolff Olins creates brands that define, inspire and transform organisations and marketplaces’.

The case studies do make the point – and if you ever wondered what the rationale behind Diageo was, it’s here.

But if you are looking for an alternative view, try www.nologo.org. The site is a brand extension of an anti-branding book. Its views might not sit well in the corporate world, but it is still worth a surf.

OUR TOP BRAND SITES: the web is a natural ally to the brand

An good site from one of the leading brand agencies. Good case studies on a fast, flash site helps boosts its own brand.

Offspring of Interbrand, the site debates the issues of global branding. The argument on ‘God, the brand’ is particularly intriguing.

Not as exciting as other brand management sites, perhaps because it throws finance into the equation. Worth a look for its reports.

The brand extension of the anti-brand book, this is either an anti-capitalism polemic or refreshing analysis of corporate exploitation; take your pick.

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