11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding

11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding

by Al Ries, Laura Ries

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As we move into the twenty-first century the most important question for businesses everywhere is: What are we going to do about the Internet? The two most qualified people in the country to answer that question may be Al Ries and Laura Ries. Not only are they the authors of the BusinessWeek bestseller The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, they are also…  See more details below


As we move into the twenty-first century the most important question for businesses everywhere is: What are we going to do about the Internet? The two most qualified people in the country to answer that question may be Al Ries and Laura Ries. Not only are they the authors of the BusinessWeek bestseller The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, they are also consultants to dozens of Fortune 500 companies.

This book is the result of their hands-on work with both large and small companies as well as Internet start-ups and established Internet brands. Brash, bold, and mercifully succinct, The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding is the definitive text for businesses eager to jump on the Internet expressway.

In the book you'll learn why:

  • The Internet can be a business or a medium for your brand, but not both.
  • Interactivity is the single most important ingredient of any Internet site.
  • The kiss of death for an Internet brand is a common name.
  • Being second in a category is tantamount to being nowhere.
  • You have to be fast. You have to be first. You have to be focused.
  • Everyone is talking about convergence while just the opposite is happening.
The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding will also give you tangible information on how to successfully build your company, product, service, or self into a hot and profitable brand on the Internet. Specifically you'll learn how to:
  • Build a brand that will dominate a category over an extended period of time.
  • Find a proper name (instead of a common one) for your Website.
  • Take your brand into the global marketplace.
  • Avoid the biggest mistake in Internet branding: the belief that you can do everything.
  • Take advantage of the transformations that will occur in all aspects of life, thanks to the power of the Internet.
With characteristic counterculture observations and signature marketing savvy, Ries and Ries bring their expertise to branding on the Internet, the most challenging problem in the world of marketing today. No one who wants to turn a brand into a global phenomenon should ignore their sage advice.

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Editorial Reviews

Business 2.0
The authors offer a checklist of questions outlining specific requirements for building brand on the Web: Can people interact with your site? Is your brand name original? Were you the first in your category? Is your advertising message 'sticky' enough? Is your brand global? The point is that you can't afford to be left out. Think of the Internet as a business unto itself and not simply as a medium. Then you'll respect it and it will reward you.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.81(w) x 7.83(h) x 0.80(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Law of Either/Or

The Internet can be a business
or a medium, but not both.

Putting your brand name on a Website doesn't make it an Internet brand. There are brands and there are Internet brands, and the two are quite different.

If you want to build an Internet brand, you shouldn't treat the Internet as a medium, you should treat it as a business.

But the Internet is a medium, you might be thinking, just like newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. Maybe so, but if you want to build a powerful Internet brand, you will have to treat the Internet as an opportunity, not as a medium. You will have to treat the Internet as a totally new business where the slate is wiped clean and where endless opportunities await those who can be first to create new categories in the mind.

  • It wasn't ABC, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, Business Week, or Newsweek that created the most successful information site on theInternet. It was Yahoo!
  • It wasn't Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks, or Borders that created the most successful bookseller on the Internet. It was Amazon.com.
  • It wasn't Sotheby's or Christie's that created the most successful auction site on the Internet. It was eBay.
  • It wasn't AT&T, Microsoft, or Cablevision that built the most successful provider of Internet service. It was AmericaOnline.

Everyone knows the Internet will change their business as well as everybody else's business. But how? And what can you do about it? It's easy to err in one of two different ways. You can make either too much of the Internetor too little.

You make too much of the Net when you assume that it will completely replace traditional ways of doing business. No new medium has ever done that. Television didn't replace radio. Radio didn't replace magazines. And magazines didn't replace newspapers.

You make too little of the Net when you assume it will not affect your business at all. Every new medium has had some effect on every business, as it has had on existing media. Radio, for example, was primarily an entertainment medium until the arrival of television. Today radio is primarily a music, news, and talk medium.

Great, you might be thinking. We'll play the Internet right down the middle. Just treat it as another arrow in our marketing quiver. That would be your biggest mistake of all. You fracture your brand when you try to make it an Internet brand as well as a physical or real-world brand. No brand can be all things to all people. Yet that is what many Internet experts recommend.

To quote one Internet guru: "Internet commerce needs to be part of a broader electronic business strategy, a strategy that embraces all the ways that you let your customers do business with you electronically: by touch-tone phone, by fax, by e-mail, by kiosk, via handhelds, and via the Web."

Many brand owners follow this strategy. They carry their existing brands over to the Internet and wait for miracles to happen. So we have sites like the following:

  • Levi.com, Dockers.com, Barbie.com
  • ABC.com, Forbes.com, Washingtonpost.com
  • Ford.com, GM.com, Daimlerchryslercom

Does brand familiarity in the "outernet" foster interest in the Internet? A study by Forrester Research among sixteen- to twenty-two-year-olds says "no." According to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm, "Some of the hottest brands in the off-line world have no online value."

That's not surprising. Did any nationally recognized newspaper or magazine make the transition to television? No, they were all failures on the tube, most notably USA Today and Good Housekeeping. (USA Today on TV lost an estimated $15 million the first year and was canceled during its second season.)

Business managers have much in common with military generals who fight their next war with the previous war's weapons. Witness the wave of Websites that mimic the real world.

Slate magazine, introduced by Microsoft with a blaze of publicity, is a typical example. Edited by a semicelebrity (Michael Kinsley, made famous by CNN's Crossfire), Slate struggled along as a Web version of a conventional magazine, including a conventional subscription price of $29.95 a year.

Only twenty-eight thousand people subscribed. So Slate switched to a more typical Web subscription price, zero dollars a year. Traffic to the Slate site zoomed to nearly one million visitors a month. The question is, how will Microsoft make money by giving away the magazine?

The obvious answer is with advertising, which we don't think will work either (see Immutable Law #6). Salon magazine has been published on the Web ever since 1995. In spite of the fact that it has been attracting more than a million visitors a month, the publication is still unprofitable. Last year it posted revenues of just $3.5 million, mainly from advertising.

As a matter of fact, the magazine is not a good analogy for the Internet. Nor for that matter are radio, television, books, or newspapers. The Internet is the Internet, a unique new medium with its own unique new needs and requirements. Building a brand on the Internet cannot be done by using traditional brand-building strategies.

On the Internet, you should start the brand-building process by forgetting everything you have learned in the past and asking yourself these two questions:

  1. What works on the Internet?
  2. What doesn't work on the Internet?

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