Tag Archive | online

The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

branding

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.

Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.

Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center .

Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  • Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
  • Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
  • Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.

By John Williams for Entrepreneur.com

7 Highly Effective Ways to Maximize Your Online Brand Presence

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Photo courtesy of Brand Driven Digital

This article by R. Kay Green was first published on the Huffington Post in 2013
It is no secret that in this day and age, online presence = brand awareness. In fact, most marketing experts agree that how you present your brand online is the 21st century equivalent of your first meeting with a customer. Your online brand is what people think of you when you are not available. In fact, your online brand is as important as any of the traditional forms of branding and becoming more important each day. Most customers today are technologically savvy and typically rely on a company’s online presence as a validity test of its credibility in the market.

 

In the competitive-age we live in, in order for your brand to succeed online, it must be highly recognizable, relatable, and authentic; thereby setting itself apart from the competition. High visibility of your brand increases credibility and customers will be more willing to retain your product/services. Creating an online brand presence is about capturing the attention of the targeted audience. At present, consumer’s today look to connect directly with business owners and hear their stories before they make a decision on whether to buy their products/services. With that in mind, let’s examine seven key insights as to how to effectively maximize your online brand presence:

 

1. Be Consistent With Branding. Ask yourself one question: “What is my business really about?” It is very important to display a consistent branding strategy across all online channels. This creates brand recognition and helps to reinforce the brand. It is common for a business to use several channels to reach out to customers. For example, a business may use its website, several social networks, blogs, document sharing sites, and more.

 

2. Optimize Your Website. As we know, creating and maintaining a website is one of the most important branding tools for any business. Website optimization for optimal performance on search engines is one of the first things companies can do to drive traffic to a website and improve the brand’s visibility.

 

3. Social Media. Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote both small businesses and corporations; and, enhance the visibility of your brand. Social Media Marketing promotes visibility, brand loyalty, recognition, and can also grow your sales. In addition, social media marketing allows small businesses and established ones to compete with an advantage. It enables businesses to reach worldwide audiences.

 

4. Produce and Distribute Great Quality Content. Creating and distributing quality content is the best way to gain visibility online. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business and create brand recognition online. Creating quality content has become essential to any successful marketing strategy today.

 

5. Press Release Marketing. Press release distribution is a very effective and inexpensive way to enhance brand visibility and recognition. If it is picked up by Google News, your company will receive additional coverage for your brand.

 

6. Leverage Video Marketing. Businesses of all sizes and scale can benefit from video marketing i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, Metcafe, etc. Posting branded videos relevant to your niche is a very effective way to promote your business, drive traffic to your website, and get your brand noticed in front of a targeted audience.

 

7. Start a Blog. Having a blog can enhance brand visibility and improve your chances of success. In fact, blogging is one of the most effective ways to improve the visibility of your brand online. Blogging greatly improves your search engine rank, establishes validity in your brand and increases reach. In addition, blogging helps to cultivate relationships with customers and other influencers.

 

As a final point, when creating an online brand presence, don’t attempt to create your online brand like any other brand in the market. Be authentic. If you can be open and honest with yourself about your brand’s value, you will be able to authenticate this value when creating your online brand presence.