A Beginner’s Guide to Branding Your Online Business
Of all the planning, strategizing, and work you’ve done to get start your business, there’s one very important aspect you cannot overlook, and that is branding. In this guide, we’re going to go over what a brand identity is, how to create one, and why it’s important to have cohesive branding across all platforms.
When it comes to your business what do you consider to be your primary goal?
Lead generation? Sales? Throwing a killer company holiday party?
A study asked business to business marketers the same question; 89% of them replied saying that brand awareness was their most important goal. They ranked it higher than landing sales or chasing leads.
Branding is a complex topic in the world of marketing, but by the time we’re finished this article, you’ll understand the basics behind it and why it’s so important for your online business. We’ll also go through a few essential branding strategies you can put to use today to transform the image of your company.
Let’s dive in.
What is Branding?
Branding can refer to one of two things: the image of your business or when you burn a hot iron symbol into something. If you’re looking for the latter, then this might not be the article for you, however, if you’re interested in strategizing your company’s personality, then read on.
A brand is a somewhat intangible thing yet one of the most important parts of your business. It’s essentially the image and personality of your company from the eyes of your customer.
You can’t buy your brand identity. You must create it.
Your brand as a whole consists of various components: logos, typography, colors, packaging, message. It’s more than just the name of your business, your icons, or your web design. It’s the feeling you elicit from your customer when they hear your name, think of your product, or see your logo.
Seth Godin, a former Yahoo executive, put it best.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Now that we know what branding is, let’s see why a positive brand is vital for your online business.
Why is Branding Important?
The importance of having a brand identity is that your customers will recognize your business or product wherever it appears. When you see an apple sticker on someone’s car, you immediately know that he or she is a Mac person.
Branding increases your company’s professionalism and creates consistency with your customer. On average, it takes 5-7 brand impressions for someone to remember your name.
If during those 5-7 times, you have inconsistent logos, colors, or packaging, they may not connect the brand to your business. Those impressions are then wasted.
We know that branding evokes feelings among your customers; those feelings are essential because feelings stay with us. It’s vital that you properly brand your business before the market does it for you.
We’d mention all the companies that didn’t brand well, but you wouldn’t recognize the names.
Four Steps to Creating a Brand Identity
Are you ready to start branding your business? We’ve accumulated a simple, four-step branding process that you can use to plan out your brand identity, discover your goals, and understand your business’ image.
1. List Your key goals.
This first step is all about and understanding what you want to achieve. Goals are the steps to bringing an idea to life. Without goals, we won’t be able to see if we failed or succeeded as time passes, so set specific goals early on.
What do you want your brand to achieve? What feeling do you want to envoke? How long will your brand last?
Once you decide on these major components of your brand identity, you can see if it matches your business model. If they align, moving forward through the development will be a lot simpler.
2. Define Your Target Audience and Niche
After you define some key goals, you’ll need to determine who your target audience is.
How old are they? What are they interested in? What’s their income level? What’s their personality like?
The more specific you can get to find out who your ideal customer is, the easier it will be to target them in the future and convert leads. When we understand who we’re selling to, we can tailor our brand to them.
During this step, you should double check that what your business provides matches your target audience. From there, we can move on to giving your business a personality.
3. Specify Your Brand’s Personality, Identity, and Message
Step three consists of defining your business and finding out what type of personality you want your brand to take on. When designing the identity of your brand, it can be helpful to pretend that your company as a person.
What kind of demeanor would they have? How would they talk?
If you’re an investment company targeting the older generations, you probably wouldn’t use much slang nor have a logo written in a modern, cursive typeface. However, if you have a handmade vegan soap brand targetting young women, you might.
Designing your brand is all about how you want your target audience to perceive you. Ask yourself, does my brand’s personality relate to my target audience’s?
4. Establish Your Social Media Channels
When it comes to traffic, SEO isn’t your only option for getting attention. Social media is bigger than ever, and your presence on popular sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are important for establishing your brand identity.
83% of Americans have a social media account, and most of them check social media daily. When you start to write and push content, these social media channels will be your ideal sources for creating brand impressions on your target audience.
The world of branding is complex, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but luckily there are companies like Smash Brand to help you bring your product’s personality to life. Sometimes is better to consult a professional when it comes to something as important as your business’ brand identity.
Now that you know what branding is, why it’s important, and how to build your brand identity, there’s only one thing left to discuss: strategy.
Let’s get into some basic strategies that you can put to use today to establish healthy branding practices.
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again, “be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. People want original and unique content. To stand out from your competitors, try something different and put your twist on what everyone’s talking about.
When it comes to your brand identity, consistency is everything. You’re brand–whether its the feeling they have when thinking about your company, the jingle that stays in their head, or the way to act after using your product—is something that stays with them.
If someone can’t recognize your product, you are loosing out. If your customer isn’t getting the same experience every time, you are loosing out. Consistency is key in branding.
Create Engaging Content
When pushing your content through social media, you want to make it attention-grabbing and shareable. Thousands of words on a white background is dead, and media killed it. Break up your content with an image, a gif, or even a video.
Using media proves to hold your reader’s attention for longer, increase engagement, and promotes sharing.
There’s nothing worse than pulling up an article and falling in love with the content to then find out that the last time the author edited their blog was 2016. To rise up the Google ranks and stay relevant on people’s mind you need to consistently post on social media, advertise, and take over your customer’s mindshare.
Check in with your goals every month. Sure, ignorance may be bliss, but failure isn’t.
Are you making progress? What did you do well? What’s slacking? Are you on target to hit your major goals?
Revisit your goals, reevaluate your smaller stepping stone goals, and tweak your process. If you have to, shift your goals around.
Life changes and so do businesses. The most important thing in this process is that you understand where you stray, where you succeeded, and that you have a plan to move forward.
Research the Competition
Your competition is your competition for a reason. They have a similar idea, in the same niche, and they are doing something right.
Here’s a pro tip: find out what’s working well for them, and then do it better.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of branding, you are one step closer to running a well-branded, successful online business. There’s only one question left to ask…
What’s Your Next Move?
Now that you understand the basics behind branding, what are you going to do with it?
If you’re an entrepreneur then you know our lifestyle isn’t normal, we’re programmed differently. If you’ve been looking for a space that reflects you, you’ve come to the right place.
For all things entrepreneurial from personal growth and motivation to start up advice and branding, we’ve got you covered. Check out the Phat Startup’s blog for more insight into the business world.