If you have an online presence for your business, branding is very important. You see it with big companies, such as Qantas and Coca Cola. If you see their logo anywhere you know what it’s about. If you buy from them, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. This is what you need to give to your customers, albeit on a smaller scale.
Branding is about definition, communication and consistency. We are going to look at all of these points in this article. Done well, online branding improves the reputation of your business. This means that you can charge a good rate for your products, increase sales and make more profit. You can see the value that good branding can provide.
Defining and creating your brand
When you are creating your brand identity you need to consider what you want to get across to potential customers.
It could be that you want to concentrate on affordability. Is your product more affordable than other similar products on the market. If it is, your branding should make people aware of the fact.
Do you have an unusual product to sell? If this is the case you need to make sure your branding helps you tell people what is so unusual and why this is a unique selling point.
Is your business known for being reliable? If the answer is yes, then this message needs to be part of your branding, across your web presence.
When you are creating your brand, and communicating what is good about your business, you need to take account of your customer base. Do not make assumptions about what they are looking for; do your research.
A good brand reflects what your business is all about and encourages customers to engage with you. You need to make sure that you have everything covered when you are looking at branding your business:
- A memorable logo. If you look at the McDonald’s logo, you immediately know which brand it represents. Your business may not have the worldwide recognition of McDonald’s, but you need to make sure that you choose a logo which people can relate to, and recognise as representing you.
- A voice that you use in all communications. The voice of a business is very important; it helps people to recognise you, and to engender trust. Are you a business that provides fancy dress? You may want to adopt a voice that is lively, friendly and fun. Are you a law firm? You may decide on a voice that is professional, without being too overbearing.
- A tagline that works. Think of the really good movie taglines, such as “You’ll never go in the water again” for Jaws. They add depth to the title and they make people want to see the movie. Your tagline needs to say something about you, without being over long. It needs to be relevent, snappy and encourage people to want to know more.
- Key messages. What is it that you most want to say about your business? You need to decide what the key messages are. Do not be tempted to produce reams of messages because you get caught up with trying to tell people everything about you. This does not work. Just pick the small number of messages that are really key to what you do and what you can provide.
- Templates for your communications. If you are developing a brand, you want it to be reflected across all of your communications. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you use templates for communications such as newsletters.
It takes time to develop a brand, and learn how to use it online, so be patient. You may also want to check out online marketing services, to get some help from the experts. They have built up a vast amount of experience and expertise, which they can put to use helping you with your branding.
Communicating your brand
So, you have created your brand, and you have everything in place. How do you communicate your brand online? The most obvious place to start is your website. You need to make sure that this is created, or updated, to reflect your branding. You should ensure that your logo is prominent, and it’s also a good idea to include your tagline in a highly visible place on your website homepage.
You should also make use of social media. It’s free, and it’s an excellent means of spreading the word about your brand. Once people start to see you as reliable and reputable they will start to talk about you across social media. You can use people who like and follow you to help with your marketing, completely free of charge. Do not forget to include your logo and tagline in your profile. You can also use your profile to communicate the key messages you want to get across.
Email marketing is still a strong method of communicating with customers and potential customers. Once they begin to recognise your branding they will pay more attention to your communications; assuming you provide a good customer experience for them. Always remember to use branded emails with contact details and reference to your web presence.
Once your branding is in place, it’s important that you stick with it. Every single online communication and publication should contain your branding. People need to associate what you do, say and sell with your brand.
As long as you deliver on your promises, you will build on your good reputation. If you are not consistent with your branding, you run the risk of looking unprofessional. Your message also becomes confused, so people are unsure about what to expect from you.
Once you have branding in place it needs to be included in everything you do. Of course, this means you need to ensure that everyone who works for you knows what is expected when it comes to the use of your branding.
As you can see, branding is all about developing your online presence and your reputation. If people associate your brand with a good experience they will tell others and your customer base will grow, as will your profits. You may be the very best at what you do but if no-one associates that accolade with you then it really does not mean that much.
The ultimate aim is for people to see your logo and business name and know exactly what you do and how good you are. If you post on Facebook to tell people about a success story, you need to make sure that your branding is there for them to relate to the story. If you invite people to an event, your name and logo should be prominently displayed on the invitation email or flyer.
It’s also a good idea to include branding such as your tagline and key messages. When the event is a success, attendees need to know who to tell their friends about.
Hopefully, you can now see what branding is all about, and exactly how important it is for your business.