Book Review: The Art of Digital Branding by Ian Cocoran

by Louellen Coker on September 23, 2008

Hiding behind its 1960s style cover is an enjoyable tome that explores a topic that is anything but dated. In The Art of Digital Branding, Ian Cocoran takes you through more than the process of building a Web site; he tells you how to brand yourself through that development.

Cocoran explores the art of digital branding that starts with choosing your domain name and moves on to content, positioning promotions, philanthropy, and ultimately to creating an emotionally intelligent Web site.He is deeply committed to sharing the knowledge he has gained while working and writing for www.brandchannel.com by beating the bandwagon to draw timely attention to factors important for success with digital branding.

He writes, “Never before has the Internet represented such an opportunity for companies large and mall to exploit their online presence by clearly defining their Web proposition and adding value to their brands” (xiii).

To help you exploit said opportunity, Cocoran explains the traditional theories of branding and how to apply them on the Internet with examples so current you want to feel the page to make sure the ink is dry! Whether you are a marketer, manager, business owner, or entrepreneur, his tips and strategies will help you increase revenue, improve customer relations, and boost brand loyalty.

He recognizes that “technological advancement has been an absolute revelation because it moves the concept forward from a passive two dimensional era to one of dynamic interactivity”; while at the same time he recognizes technology can easily be misused (52). He cautions you, with examples of effective and ineffective sites, to use this technology appropriately as you reflect and establish your company’s culture.

Cocoran’s thorough discourse covers the full range of considerations for digital branders, including the following:

  • Using color schemes, menus, and themes to develop your user’s perception of your online brand
  • Incorporating standard topic areas—history, feedback, mission statements, and FAQs—to establish your culture
  • Developing traffic with competitions, vouchers, giveaways, forums, or subscription-based memberships
  • Integrating technology—audio, streaming video, Shockwave animation—to enhance the user experience
  • Using philanthropic efforts to promote your company’s culture

Cocoran concludes with a discussion of the importance of creating an emotionally intelligent Web site. He conveys the importance of Web designers understanding that their branded Web site will create a series of emotional responses, allowing them to make use of emotion to guide the user to a desired outcome. He predicts that emotionally intelligent sites will become a growing trend in Web development in the near future.

Although Cocoran uses excellent examples and ample support for the principles of digital branding he introduces, it is obvious that he has repurposed his writing for www.brandchannel.com in this book. His numerous references to “as I wrote in an article for
www.brandchannel.com” tend to get a bit tedious and leave you wondering if Cocoran is the only expert in the field. The quality of information about digital branding that he conveys, however, allows you to forgive this blatant self-promotion.

Undoubtedly, The Art of Digital Branding will be a standard on the shelf of Web developers that will be referenced time and again.

The Art of Digital Branding. Ian Cocoran. 2007. New York, NY: Allworth. [ISBN 978-1-5811-488-7. 248 pages, including index. $24.95 USD.]

This book review first appeared in TechnicalCOMMUNICATION, Volume 55, Number 3, August 2008, p. 303. TechnicalCOMMUNICATION is the journal of the Society for Technical Communication.

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