Did you know that 65 percent of adult internet users believe that online search is the most trustworthy source of information available about companies? In fact, it outperformed all other forms of online and offline research in terms of credibility.
Clearly, online branding is crucial to building a strong digital reputation and ramping up your ROI.
But what if you don’t know what online branding is or how to make it work for your company? Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Read on for 10 useful tips for building a brand online.
1. Understand Online Branding
Let’s start with the basics. What is online branding, and how will it help your company? Online branding gives your company a coherent identity and digital message.
It sets your business apart from the competition. When done properly, it communicates professionalism and capability to potential clients. Online branding makes your company and the services and products that you sell memorable and recognizable.
According to Forbes, “branding is the underpinning of everything a brand does or produces, from the language used in its product descriptions to its packaging to the ads you see on the street.” Online branding occurs within the context of the internet where increasing numbers of people do research to find companies and products that suit their needs.
Online branding has a massive, indirect impact on your company’s success and bottom line, so don’t leave it to chance. So, how do you go about building your brand online?
2. Know Your Customer
Successfully building an online brand requires knowing who your customers are. After all, how can you speak to them in a persuasive, likable way if you don’t know who you’re talking to? How can you answer their questions and solve their problems if you don’t know what keeps them up at night?
Put another way, you need to be able to answer these questions before you even start thinking about online branding:
- What does my ideal customer look like?
- Where do they hang out?
- How old are they?
- What are their interests?
- What are their concerns?
- How can my company help them?
- What matters to them?
Find out what will grab and hold your customer’s attention. Learn how they want you to communicate with them. Take the time to speak directly to each customer in your online branding campaigns, and your ROI will shoot through the roof.
That said, this step requires some serious research. So, dive into the analytics section of your social media accounts. Pour over your buyer personas.
Go back through past surveys. Review anything else you have that tells the story of who your customers are. Know them inside and out so that you can speak directly to them through brand marketing.
3. Understand Your Brand
To better understand your brand, analyze what your customers want and need from your company. This is where you need to understand the benefits and deeper benefits associated with your business’s products and services.
For example, if you’re selling cosmetics, one benefit might be that the makeup is organic and chemical-free. But what’s the deeper benefit? By using this product your skin will stay young-looking, fresh, and beautiful.
While organic makeup probably isn’t keeping your customers up at night, aging prematurely is. So, know the deeper benefits of your products and communicate them to your customers.
Now here’s the caveat. In order to make your online efforts successful, you must be certain that the way you perceive your brand and the way others perceive it are the same. How do you do this?
Start by making a list of adjectives that best describe your company. Then, pick your top three.
Do these terms match up? Or, are they contradictory? If you said yes to any of these questions, then you have a branding problem.
This exercise will help you to see where gaps in your online branding exist. Then, you can follow the steps below to help you fill these gaps.
4. Don’t Be Pointless
When you build a brand online, remember that your business is about more than your products. So many companies today start and end their marketing efforts with the same focus: what they’re selling. But they never dive into the meaty stuff.
Customers want to know about your brand. So, you need to explain:
- Why your brand exists
- How it fulfills what it promises
- What your brand does or sells
Until you answer these questions, your company will remain a collection of products, NOT a coherent brand. Addressing these topics requires stepping back and viewing the larger picture. It involves finding and communicating your company’s point.
According to Fortune, your online brand “should be authentic, and it should be a rich representation of not only what you’ve done, but of who you are and what you care about.” What does that mean? Being the brand you want your customers to perceive in all of your communications, marketing, and company decisions.
5. Know What You’re Selling
When it’s all said and done, you’re selling a brand NOT a product. This may require a huge shift in your mindset and current marketing goals. But it’ll be worth it once your online branding takes off.
So, how do you sell a brand instead of a product? First, create a company manifesto outlining your beliefs and what you stand for as an organization. Then, stand by it in your online communications and marketing efforts.
Voicing your company’s “why” and then supporting it through your marketing efforts and business actions will foster an emotional connection between you and your prospects and customers.
6. Ask for Help
One of the most important rules to remember when it comes to how to build a brand online is that you can’t do it alone. Online branding requires multiple perspectives and opinions. It’s a complicated process.
So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As you move through the process, sometimes you’ll just need an extra pair of eyes. So, consult with colleagues.
Other times, you’ll want to invest in professional branding assistance through a consultant or agency such as Bourbon Interactive. They’ll guide you through the decision-making process so that you maximize your ROI.
7. Get to the Core
What’s one of the greatest challenges to cultivating a successful online brand? Too much information. Your company has evolved over time and so has your brand concept.
Unfortunately, all of those old layers of branding stand in the way of a clear, concise message. Don’t confuse your customers with too much disparate information, even if it was once relevant.
Instead, you need to distill your online marketing efforts down to the core or essence of your company. As the old adage goes, less is more. So, get ready to clean house so that the simplicity and brilliance of your message can shine through.
8. Align Your Brand and Company
As you weed out the irrelevant aspects of former marketing campaigns and past attempts at branding, take this time to double check your branding. Does it accurately reflect your business? Do you see any mismatches?
If you find discrepancies, don’t beat yourself up over them. Instead, make a positive change to align your brand with your company. While you may feel reluctant to do so, procrastination is not an option.
Make the changes that you need to NOW, or your company will pay in the long run. If you’re at a true impasse and don’t know which direction to go, there’s no better time to bring in some professional help. Yes, it costs money, but sitting on a confusing, misaligned brand will cost you far more in the long run.
9. Think Before You Post
You know how they say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions?” The same could be said for online branding failure. Its road is paved with well-intentioned, misperceived social media posts an marketing communications.
So, only post what you mean. Once you hit click, your social media message, blog, or newsletter is out there… with no hope of return. Somebody will see them.
Don’t put a message out there UNLESS you’re willing to stand by it. End of story.
10. Build Relationships
So, what’s the bottom line when it comes to how to create a successful brand? When it’s all said and done, you need to cultivate long-term relationships with prospects, customers, vendors, and anybody else involved in the success of your company.
By maintaining these networks, you increase your company’s exposure and online branding success. Use the internet to follow up with connections and stay in touch.
Word-of-mouth is crucial to your brand’s success. Do everything you can to ensure it’s positive.
Building a Successful Online Brand
We live in an age of online communications and interactions that are not only becoming more and more prevalent. They’re also carrying greater weight. The 10 tips listed above will help you put your company on the road to online marketing success.
But it’s a time-consuming process that comes with many decisions and challenges. The process can also become complicated, so create a strong network of supporters. Then, ask them for help when you need it.
Are you interested in learning more about promoting your company’s message? Check out our blog for more expert advice on digital marketing and online branding. Or, contact us now so that we can start talking business!