When you’ve been busy getting your business off the ground, marketing may not be your biggest priority. However, it’s never too early to start branding your business, and the sooner you adopt online branding strategies, the better.
Branding your business online will help you connect with your potential customers in the digital spaces where they spend time. A good branding strategy should give your audience a strong sense of what your company is all about and why they should choose you over a similar competitor. A well-developed brand will stick with consumers. Even if they’re not ready to buy from you right now, they’ll remember you when they need your products or services.
Let’s look at some of the online branding strategies you can start implementing now, even if your budget and resources are limited.
Expand Your About Us Page
Take a look at the About Us page on your website. Does it read like a laundry list of basic facts (e.g., founder’s name, year launched, location)? Is it a short paragraph that you told yourself would serve as a placeholder until you came up with something better? If so, it’s time to invest more energy in the content on this page.
The About page is your chance to introduce customers to your brand and show them what you stand for. This page needs to answer the questions:
Why does this business exist?
What does this business do better than anybody else?
Not everyone who lands on your site will visit your About page, but those who do will gain a better sense of what drives and defines your brand. And the act of developing content for your About page will help you and your team come up with the language that best describes your business, which you’ll continue to use in both offline and online branding strategies.
Document Your Buyer Personas
Before you can get rolling with your website branding strategies, you need to understand who you’re trying to reach. 74 percent of online consumers say they get frustrated when a website’s content is irrelevant to them, so it’s important to tailor your brand content to the right buyers.
You may already have an idea about the kind of person who will love your product or service, but do you have documented buyer personas? A buyer persona is a representation of your target audience based on market research and historical data. If you’re a new business, you may not have a lot of customer data to base your personas on. That’s okay: you can start with broad personas and add details as you learn more about your audience. For example, a company that sells beard grooming products might identify two primary audiences:
- Men with beards
- Women buying gifts for their bearded partners
As their business takes off, the beard care company can begin collecting demographic information from sources like Google Analytics, customer surveys, and interviews.
Once you learn more about (and document) your target buyers’ interests, pain points, and buying process, you’ll be better prepared to connect with them through your brand messaging.
Create a Brand Style Guide
No matter what branding strategies you use in your online marketing, your brand voice and visual style need to be consistent. Consistency helps your audience quickly recognize and identify with your brand, while inconsistency can confuse your audience and cause them to see your business as unprofessional. Your new business should take the time to create a brand style guide that includes:
- Your brand’s mission/goals
- Your brand story (e., the reason you exist)
- Adjectives to describe the brand, as well as adjectives to describe what the brand is not
- A description of your audience (e., your buyer personas)
- Notes about language to avoid
- Your brand color palette
- Your brand typography (e., the fonts you’ll use)
- Approved versions of your logo and descriptions of when to use each one
- Best practices for visual content
Is that a lot of detail? Yes, but it’s worth it. Having a brand style guide that you can share with your employees and freelancers will keep everyone aligned with your brand voice. And that kind of consistency pays off: you’re three to four times more likely to enjoy brand visibility when you consistently present your brand, leading to an average revenue increase of 23 percent.
Develop a Customer Reward Plan
Branding your business online isn’t just about attracting new customers—it’s about building brand loyalty.
One great way to improve your customer retention is to reward customers for every purchase. For example, you could:
- include a personalized thank-you note whenever you ship an online purchase
- send customers a discount code after they buy something or subscribe to your newsletter
- let customers earn store credit every time they make a purchase.
Adopting a reward plan will help you become known as a company that truly cares about its customers. Additionally, if your company offers a type of reward plan that none of your competitors have, you can use it as a unique selling proposition. For example, the shoe company TOMS markets the fact that they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer makes a purchase.
Encourage and Share User-Generated Content
One of the main goals of branding is to engage with potential customers so that they’ll choose to buy from your business. And one of the beauties of online branding is that you can directly connect with your audience on the digital platforms where they’re already spending their time.
Once you start building an audience online, encourage your followers to share brand content on your website and social media. User-generated content, which can be anything from product reviews to unboxing videos, builds your brand’s authenticity and provides social proof. When potential customers see real people using and enjoying your product, their confidence in your brand will increase.
So, how do you get your online followers to create and share content with your brand? Give them an incentive. For example, you could run a photo contest with a gift card prize or pledge to donate $1 to a charity every time followers post an Instagram photo using your branded hashtag.
Build an Influencer Network
A discussion of online branding strategies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning influencer marketing. Influencer marketing involves working with someone who has a dedicated base of online followers so that their followers can get to know your brand. This might include writing a branded guest post on an influencer’s blog, having an influencer share a photo of your product on Instagram, or teaming up with an influencer to host a webinar, just to name a few examples.
As a new business, you might not feel like you have the clout to work with an influential blogger or social media personality, but influencer marketing campaigns can work for companies of all sizes, as long as you’re willing to invest some time and effort.
The first step you’ll need to take is to identify online influencers who closely align with your brand and your customers’ interests. You can do this manually by performing Google searches for blogs that are relevant to your industry, or you can streamline the process by using an influencer database tool like Buzzsumo or Upfluence.
Once you’ve identified influencers you’d like to partner with, you’ll need to take the time to build a professional relationship. Subscribe to the influencer’s newsletter, comment on their blog, share their content on social media, and familiarize yourself with their brand. Influencers will be much more open to working with your brand if you’ve done your research and shown an interest in their content than if you abruptly ask them for a favor.
Need help implementing any of the online branding strategies above? The Leverage Marketing team specializes in building brands through digital channels, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your brand.