What’s your digital brand worth? It can be worth a lot. You can measure its impact in reduced marketing costs and increased revenues for your small business.
But if you’re not executing that brand consistently, branding leads to confusion. You miss opportunities. Customer acquisition costs skyrocket. All the while, you continue to try branding the wrong way, costing you more.
Brand your business for success with a digital marketing strategy. Increase visibility and engagement across marketing channels. Convert those interactors into customers through effective branding.
Let’s review the numbers that prove brand is so important and break branding through digital marketing down into 9 basic steps.
What is Branding?
Branding is anything that helps your target customers instantly recognize your company.
Traditionally, your brand includes things like your:
- Company Name
- Color schemes
- Advertising methods
The more consistent you are with these basic branding components the more likely someone is to recognize your brand. A brand isn’t who you are as a company. It’s not who you strive to be. It’s how people perceive you as a company now.
You can be the most honest, high quality, customer-focused company out there. If people don’t see you this way, you need to work on your brand.
That’s branding 101. Business leaders have long known that branding is the key to success in any industry.
But the Internet blew branding wide open. It gives you the ability to brand your business in ways that customers not only respond to, but they prefer digital branding. It better aligns with how people make buying decisions in a modern age.
But why is branding so important in the first place?
Why You Should Brand Your Business
Products and services rarely stand alone.
Why should someone hire your HVAC company to repair their air conditioner this summer? They could hire companies A, B or C who do the same thing? You may even be competing with company D that helps the person do the repair themselves.
They choose you because of the feeling that you build up around a brand. If your brand is built on honesty, people feel this when they see things that remind them of your brand. This feeling compels buying decisions.
If you don’t have a brand, they feel nothing. You might entice them with a one-off discount. People may make occasional impulse buys. But they feel no connection that drives them to schedule an appointment.
The only reason they would come back is if you gave them another discount. You can’t grow a business like that.
Branding by the Numbers
A Harvard study found that 64% of people name “shared values” as the main reason they follow a brand. They trust that the brand provides them with accurate information and follows through on what they say.
53.9% of people don’t trust commercials, infomercials or ads from a brand they don’t know. You can run ads all day. But if people don’t trust, they don’t buy. 78% of people say that they trust companies that build their brand on providing relevant, custom content.
Branding increases company visibility online by over 400%. That translates to more traffic to your physical store. Convert it to sales.
On average, a brand increases revenues by 23%. Digital marketing costs go down as revenues go up when you brand your business.
Do You Already Have a Brand?
It’s worth asking. Maybe you already have a brand behind your business.
Let’s find out.
95% of businesses say they have a branding strategy. But research shows that only about 25% are consistently executing their brand strategy. Only 60% of the content produced by these businesses even attempt to conform to any kind of branding standard.
Nearly half of their marketing efforts are completely “free-style”. Let’s try this. Oh, that looks like a good idea. You know the drill.
Are you having trouble generating the revenues that you expect from your marketing efforts? Do customer acquisition costs make it barely worth your while? Are you getting bad reviews that seem really unfair but happy customers never seem to leave reviews?
Are your customer retention rates abysmal? Are you constantly running deep-discount promotions to get new business?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have a brand. But you’re not executing it effectively or consistently.
71% of people say they feel confused when a brand is inconsistent. That’s not a feeling you need associated with your brand. Brand your business for success online. Here’s how to set up a solid branding foundation with digital marketing.
1. Establish Your Overarching Goals
These are those evergreen goals that don’t change. Build your brand strategy around them.
Some of the top goals for business branding are:
- Being able to charge a premium for your brand. People will pay $1,000 for the latest iPhone when they could get a comparable Samsung for $400. Why? The brand.
- Retaining customers. Conservatively, loyal customers are worth 10X their first purchase after expenses. You have a 5% chance to sell to a new customer. You have a 20%-30% chance to sell to an existing one.
- Higher conversion rates. When you convert a higher percentage of traffic more easily, acquisition costs go down while revenues go up.
If your goals are different, consider what they are as the first step to brand your business for success.
2. Revisit Who Your Customers Are
One of your branding goals is to brand your business in a way that your target customers love. You need to know who they are to do this.
Create buyer personas. These include, among other things, the following about your ideal customers:
- What they like
- Where they hang out
Use real customer data whenever possible to create these. If you haven’t written this out and created personas, do this first to brand your business in a more consistent way.
3. Have the Right Website User Experience
Having a responsive website is the single most important factor in developing a digital brand. It’s the home base for everything you do to brand your business online.
Whether you share content on social media, run ads or send an email, you direct them back to your website. From there, they’ll explore your services, review case studies, sign up for free trials, buy and more.
If the website is slow, not mobile-friendly or hard to navigate, this impacts how the person sees your brand. You won’t make the sales. They won’t come back.
A responsive website is the centerpiece when branding a small business. That goes for an online shop or a brick-and-mortar local service provider.
4. Make Your Site Visible in Search Results
Over 50% of website traffic now comes in through the organic search results of search engines like Google. “Organic” results exclude the ads. Google uses an algorithm to rank websites in the search results.
The higher your rank, the closer you appear to the top of page 1.
92% of organic search clicks happen on page 1. Around 1/3 go to the top spot.
What does this have to do with branding?
The more often people see your brand in various places, the more likely you are to generate interest and earn clicks on your brand.
That’s how to create a growth cycle through branding. More people recognize your brand because you’re visible. Your brand becomes more visible when Google sees that people like your brand. The cycle continues and expands. Increased revenues result.
You achieve these high rankings in searches by applying SEO strategies. It all starts with a user-friendly website.
For SEO, brand your business in the eyes of customers first. Then apply strategies that demonstrate to search engines like Google that you’re an authoritative site worthy of a top spot.
5. Develop a Written Style Guide
Do you have a written branding style guide to refer back to? If not, create one immediately. You need a document to align your digital branding strategies.
On the Internet, it takes 7-13 touches with your company before a person becomes a customer. During these touches, the customer is checking you out. They want to see if you share their values as a business.
If a person doesn’t know it’s you because you’re not following a style guide, you’ve just missed an opportunity for a touch point.
As you brand your business across the Internet on social media platforms, email and beyond, have a clear guide that includes:
- Branding 101 (logo, slogans, etc.)
- Font styles
- Font sizes for various headings and body text
- Color palette
- Video/Graphics/Animation Styles
- Language style and terms/How you relate to people through images and words
- Message/Angle — How you show that you understand their goals and challenges
- Outreach methods/channels
- CTA (Call to Action) and other button styles
As you execute your branding strategies, return to this document. Stick with it. Update it if you determine that something works better. But don’t haphazardly stray from it.
6. Listen to Your Customers
One of the top things that people can say about a brand is that they listen. You pay attention to what people are saying about you online. You always work to make things right when something goes wrong.
In addition to comments and reviews, listen through analytical tools. Gain insight through Google Analytics and more advanced paid software.
As you listen to your customers, you’ll gain insight into how you can further develop your brand to improve how they perceive you.
7. Create Branded Content
Once you have a style guide, you can begin generating content. This includes any content that you use to:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build trust
- Generate leads
- Nurture leads
- Convert leads into paying customers
- Nurture existing customers
- Increase promoter activity
To meet objectives in these areas, create:
- Social media headlines
- Landing pages
- And more
No matter what type of content you’re creating, it will follow the style guide you’ve created.
You may find yourself distributing content in places that limit font styles or other branded elements. Compensate by including other style guide elements that help people quickly identify your brand when they see it.
You have your website, content, and style in place. It’s time to make your presence known across the Internet to brand your business. That requires engaging people through something marketers call multi-channel marketing.
8. Build Your Brand Digitally with Multi-Channel Marketing
Multi-channel marketing is reaching people through various channels online. You do this for several very important reasons:
- The same people who are on Instagram are probably on Facebook, and so on. Some people may prefer a certain channel.
- Some channels are more effective at connecting with people in various stages of the buyer’s journey
- Different channels better showcase your brand
- Being in multiple places increases your touch points. If it takes up to 13, you’ll get there more quickly.
- Being in multiple places makes you “feel like a brand”, not just a single social media profile.
Each channel has a unique way to connect with customers. Channels not only include social media platforms like Facebook. They include email marketing, AdWords, display ads on websites and any other digital channel you choose.
While your branding stays the same, what works well on one channel doesn’t always work on another. As you brand your business across channels, it pays to understand how to build a brand on each channel.
Let’s take a look at each of them.
Building a Brand on Facebook
Facebook is most effective for B2C marketing. That means you’re selling products or services directly to the consumer.
That’s as opposed to B2B marketing where you’re marketing to 2 or more people who are making buying decisions for their company.
For Facebook, you need a business page that represents your brand. Consider your style guide when choosing backgrounds and images. Your “about” and other content should reflect your brand image.
Build your brand on Facebook by posting content that earns likes and shares. If you’re sharing curated content, that content should have a clear objective that furthers your brand image.
Create and share your own content as well. This should link back to your website to generate traffic.
Encourage existing customers to write Facebook reviews. Ask them to follow your page to establish the page’s presence online. Get conversations started on your content.
Have a personality. People need a reason to follow you on Facebook. This is part of how you relate to customers.
Focus on top quality over quantity. With Facebook, people don’t appreciate repetitive or excessive sharing. Each piece should be impactful. Sharing 1-2 posts a day, mixing curation and original content works well.
News, articles, and storytelling do very well on Facebook. Use a series of posts or videos to tell an ongoing story to earn followers.
Building a Brand on Twitter
Twitter is a fast-paced social media site. It’s effective for both B2B and B2C. Apply targeting strategies to attract the right followers for your business.
Your profile page is your business page. Just like Facebook, make sure your page reflects your brand visually as much as possible.
Choose that Twitter handle carefully. Even if you change your name on the page, this handle will follow you as part of your brand. Make it memorable and easily associated with your brand. If your brand name is short and not taken, you can use it. If this isn’t an option or it’s hard to read, shorten it.
Author and Entrepreneur Rand Fishkin combined his unique first and last name to develop a short, unique and memorable handle.
Your goal on Twitter is to earn re-tweets (shares). “Likes” don’t really mean much. Each re-tweet represents your ability to get in front of thousands of new people.
Curating on Twitter is very common. Because it’s so fast-paced, people can’t actually create enough quality content to keep feeding the feeds. They share the quality content of others a lot. You can use this to your advantage as you brand your business on Twitter. Earn re-tweets not only from potential customers. Get them from non-competitors curating and re-tweeting content.
Their audiences are often yours as well.
If your content is click-worthy, all of this will translate to traffic back to your site.
Twitter is very different from Facebook when it comes to post frequency. Studies show that you need to post around 15 times a day to start building a brand on this platform. Tweeting the same tweet on different days and times is also more acceptable on Twitter than slower-paced platforms.
Building a Brand on LinkedIn
Build your B2B brand on LinkedIn. People spend time on LinkedIn for networking and to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. They share news articles and industry tips. They engage in peer-to-peer discussions about what’s going on in their industry.
Build a company page and develop networking groups for the top industries you sell to. Become a source of the latest news and tips in that industry. Share your latest custom content. In moderation, curate and share impactful content from industry influencers.
Your goal for branding on LinkedIn is to start and nurture conversations among members of your group. Earning company follows, likes and shares of your content strengthens the brand presence.
Similar to Facebook, people on LinkedIn don’t like to have their feeds overwhelmed. Post only the highest quality content. Studies show the ideal posting frequency is once per day. If you’re managing several groups, this may be a post in each group.
Building a Brand on Instagram
Your Bio is prime real estate on Instagram. It conveys your brand message quickly, clearly and confidently. It includes a link to your website.
This link may be to your homepage. But to really make the most of your Instagram presence, create a landing page. This is a page on your website that is specifically designed to convert Instagram traffic as part of a content sales funnel.
Instagram is a very visual site. The profiles that get the most attention inspire people with a single color palette. A cohesive color pattern becomes associated with your brand.
Check out this sleek professional profile from YouTube celebrity MeghanRienks.
Notice that she’s not limiting herself. There are other colors in her posts. But she’s consistent in her use of white and gray with a pop of a bold color, usually red.
Here’s Lauren Conrad’s Page with a more classic, pastel look.
You can have a lot of different colors and still have a consistent look. Check out this page from blogger Sugar & Cloth.
Are you struggling to create a consistent look on Instagram? It may be because you don’t know the secret.
The visual consistency on many of these pages is achieved by using filters and subtly manipulating colors. You can use Photoshop or other paid tools.
Canva is a free online design creation tool with paid add-ons. It allows you to manipulate photos in a professional way. It’s also great for creating infographics, flyers and other visual content. Once you get the hang of it, it’s very quick to manipulate photos.
But remember never to manipulate a photo in a way that could be perceived as deceitful.
Further brand how your page looks by grouping photos by color or theme. Take a look at this page from Raspbehrriies.
Note how they use colbalt and periwinkle blue diagonally. They’ve complemented the pictures with gray daisies on white. On the same page they use similar patterns in yellow, red, purple. Sometimes, instead of colors they’ll have a theme showcased. For example, they may have pictures of girls or shoes or flowers going diagonally across the page. Notice that the page pattern also has an asymmetry to it.
Visually strategic asymmetry can become a branded pattern as well.
As a person scrolls down this page, it’s very clear when the grouping changes. It creates tremendous visual interest.
The recommended number of posts for Instagram a day are 1-2. Those posts should not only add visual interest. They should somehow showcase what you do so that people click your bio link to learn more.
Building a Brand on YouTube
As you brand yourself on YouTube, apply the visual branding techniques we’ve discussed thus far. When posting videos develop a branded look for the video thumbnail. People should recognize your videos when they come up in searches by some distinctive visual cue.
Canva, the program discussed earlier, also has a free thumbnail maker.
Only post high quality videos on YouTube. Use an HD camera and professional videographer when possible. A grainy webcam video won’t cut it.
Don’t forget to set up your profile with a branded message and links to your other social media profiles. Drive traffic to social sites that you post to more frequently to keep people engaged between videos.
Spend some time crafting your video descriptions. Use a variety of searchable keywords. This will help more people find your videos.
Post consistency is extremely important. If you upload several videos and then disappear for a while, people lose interest. Instead, spread it out. It’s best to create several videos at once. Then schedule them out. Set realistic goals for yourself in terms of frequency. Videos take more time to produce. It’s better to keep quality up and publish less frequently.
There are more channels to consider like email, Reddit, Quora, Pinterest, and Snapchat. We won’t cover every one of them here. Learn more about how to brand yourself across channels to succeed as you brand your business.
9. Leverage Your Brand with Advertising
Now that you’ve built a brand, it’s time to leverage that brand to get the greatest return on your paid advertising budget. Because you have a brand that people recognize, people not only know who you are. They feel something when they see your brand.
If you’ve worked hard to create that “good” feeling through branding, then more people will click and convert.
When using social media ads, make sure they visually align with your presence on the corresponding social media site. When someone sees a display ad on a website, they should instantly recognize you. That’s because you’re using branding elements consistent with your brand.
Even when you post a text ad on AdWords, the language you use reminds people of your brand.
Brand Your Business for Success
To get the most out of your branding efforts, be consistent. Develop a style guide and clear branding strategy. Follow this guide across channels. Increase visibility and evoke positive feelings toward your brand.
Are you looking to grow your business through a more consistent brand? Contact us today for a free consultation.