“Effective branding will stand you head and shoulders above the crowd.” – Martin Malden
In a business environment where competition is tougher (and faster) due to the internet, it has become an absolute must to keep up. How can this be done? The answer is quite simple: BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS CREATIVELY.
As a business owner online, questions such as how can I get my business to be visible and attractive, arise. This blog’s main focus is on how to do this using the internet as a tool.
WHAT EXACTLY IS BRANDING?
Branding is the part of marketing that tells the story of your business.
How do you want your audience to view you? What three adjectives do you want to be described by? Every little action contributes to your brand. Online branding involves steps by a business to leave a lasting impression on the minds of its target audience using the internet as a tool. Tools such as Social Media and Website can help shape the image of your brand. The advantages of strategic branding cannot be overemphasized.
Online branding enables your business to develop a unique image that stands out above the rest. How exactly then can this be done?
Clearly define the image you want to convey to your audience
How do you want your target audience to see you? The key to effectively creating your desired image online is by first knowing and defining who your brand is and what your brand seeks to say. For example, would you like your brand to be seen as youthful, serious or up-to-date? Defining your image then helps you to know who you are directly targeting, as well as how you are going to reach them, with the appropriate tools.
Select your points of contact
Be it LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, social media is an integral aspect of any effective online branding strategy. Based on your brand’s target, any or all of the various social media tools could be chosen in order to create awareness and give your brand a voice. When effectively used these tools, also help you to know what exactly is running through your target group’s mind, and what they are looking for. In effect, you are able to build a powerful relationship and network.
Work with feedback
One unique thing about branding online is that the customer’s say is even greater and more pronounced. One comment or recommendation could turn the entire image of your brand around, for the better…or not. For any successful brand, feedback is a ‘partner’ that cannot be overlooked. What are others saying about your brand? And how can what is being said be used to your advantage?
A great example is in the case of Fed-Ex when a customer who had a horrible delivery experience filmed the whole scene. The Fed-Ex driver tossed the item being delivered (a computer monitor) over the customer’s gate, even though the customer was at home. Within a matter of minutes, the video had gone viral on YouTube. Fed-Ex promptly responded two days later with its own YouTube video, admitting its mistake as well as apologizing. The company did not stop there but went on further to outline what it had done to correct the problem and what will happen in future cases. One key thing about this scenario was that the company used the same tool as its customer, a move that saved its image in the eyes of its target audience.
Like the saying goes, participating in a conversation changes that conversation. And Fed-Ex learnt it the hard way. The key here is how your brand responds to what your customers say.
Marry your brand offline with your brand online
Branding online does not mean your offline brand has to be forgotten as well. Your offline image should correspond to the image built online. Online branding should be seen as an extension of your brand offline. A typical example of this is in the case of the 2008 and 2012 Obama presidential campaign. Not only did he focus on campaigning on the ground such as door to door. He also created a likeable brand online using social media to create the image of him being a ‘family man’ with his constant posts of times with his family. This was effectively done till there was no difference between what was being said by Obama by word of mouth and via the internet.
Partner with bloggers
Blogging has increasingly become an important tool in creating awareness of a brand. The blogs could serve as referrals or simply focus on topics that are related to the brand. For example, most restaurants work towards building their image online by partnering with renowned food bloggers who mention the restaurants in their posts. Blogging is an effective way to give your target audience further insight into what your brand is about and also creates the impression that your brand indeed knows its stuff.
Using your online presence as a yardstick, what opinion will be formed about your business within ten seconds? What label is attached to you as a result of your online branding and what makes you stand out? No matter the industry your business is in, online branding is simply the way to go!
We want to hear from you, what strategies do you use for your business branding?