Is Your Business In The Cloud?

By now, you’ve likely heard about cloud computing.  I get asked frequently about what it is, and what it means to brands.  Here’s a brief explanation that might help you “get your head into the cloud”.

What is Cloud Computing? In somewhat technical terms, Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

In layman’s terms, if you’re using a web or internet-based application from a major provider like Google or Microsoft, you’re using cloud computing. Congratulations…you’re in the cloud!

The term “cloud” is used as a metaphor for the Internet, based on a cloud illustration that is used to explain computer network diagrams and structure. Most cloud computing providers offer common business application online which can be accessed through a web browser.  The software and data for this service are stored entirely on remote servers.

If cloud computing is information processing remotely, then cloud branding represents an entirely new way to connect with others.  It’s a most powerful way for brands of any size, whether a small business or large corporation, to begin using the cloud to establish their brand’s presence.  Not only is this a new platform for online brands, but it’s a paradigm shift for bricks and mortar businesses – retail, health, food, services all will have a brand “in the cloud”.

The most amazing part of this new brand platform is that 80% of it is already in place, and is ready to be used at low (often free) prices.

If businesses are adopting cloud technology in a major way, then “Cloud branding” is the latest hot area for brand marketers to embrace and engage.  Bigger brands, like Amazon, Salesforce and Google are already well established in the cloud, and are branding both products and services aggressively.  For these brand giants, it’s a cloud-leveraging bid by tech companies to create and own the consumer computing experience, thereby building loyalty by being woven through all aspects of the consumer’s digital life.

For smaller brands, the cloud represents an entirely new horizon of options to build their brand’s awareness.  Here are a few examples:

Cloud Member Groups: Consider working with groups that share your brand’s common values to cross-promote, collaoborate, and create new projects that will benefit your bottom line. These groups might include members from other groups who serve as “ambassadors” to an even wider audience of cloud based members.

Cloud Services: You might use the cloud to offer a discount to other cloud-based businesses or referrals.

Cloud Learning: Nearly everyone has been trained in some form of cloud learning  Your brand might take this process and integrate it into your core messaging to reach a wider, growing international market.

Cloud Strategy: Developing on-the-fly solution to events that happen in real time.  Businesses will need to remain open and flexible to new ideas and opportunities – and having this strategy as part of your marketing mix is essential if you’re engaging your market in the cloud.

Cloud Filing: Tagging/categorizing your brand’s data, including images, communications, accounting, etc – will help you become a relevant player in the cloud.

Cloud Currency: If you’re feeling creative, why not create your own brand “currency”?  Trade with other companies for products or services your small business may need now, but not have the cash flow to acquire immediately.

So how have you engaged the cloud?  Do you have plans to expand your brand in this important technology?  If so…how?  We’d love to hear your story and experience.

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