How to Create a Stronger Digital Brand
In 2020, the world shifted online to a greater degree than ever before. The prevalence of remote work increased, online shopping jumped almost 40 percent, and companies in every sector scrambled to keep their customers interested and engaged in a world where they couldn’t interact with them face to face.
Your online presence has always been a significant component of the way your brand is perceived, but the importance of your business’ digital brand will only continue to grow as the world moves online. Here’s how to maximize the impact of your company’s online presence.
Establish Your Purpose
Before you can optimize your brand’s online presence, it’s a valuable exercise to either readdress or establish the foundation of your brand. Developing and measuring a brand strategy can be a complicated task, so start with the fundamentals.
Who You Are
Think about your brand as a person, then describe that person’s characteristics. What does your company want to accomplish (other than turning a profit)? What does success look like? What problems are you trying to solve?
Think about your company’s purpose, the reason you get out of bed in the morning, and the place you want to occupy in the market. Your goal is to present these values to the world so that everyone who interacts with your company understands your reason for being.
Why You’re Different
Take some time to spell out what makes you unique from your competition. Avoid characteristics like offering the lowest prices or the best service — anyone can offer low prices or excellent service. How is your service unique? Sometimes, what sets you apart might be a more intangible feature, like your support of social causes or the sense of community you bring to your customers.
Start with Why
28 million people have watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk entitled “Start With Why,” and his book has grabbed the attention of businesspeople all over the world. In it, Sinek explains the concept of the Golden Circle and the importance of establishing the foundational principles of your company on which you can build your brand. If you’re struggling to nail down what your company stands for, Sinek even offers workbooks to help you get started.
Define Your Audience
It’s crucial that you know who you’re talking to, especially in the digital age — not every brand will appeal to every person, nor should it try to. By clearly elucidating your target audience, you can inform the way you’d like your brand to present itself.
Buyer personas are an excellent place to start. A buyer persona is an idealized version of your target customer, or target customer profile. It goes beyond features such as your customer’s income level, job title, the size of their company, where they live, other brands they patronize, and the channels they frequent. This details what they care about, how they communicate, and how they will engage with your brand.
Customer Journey Mapping
The next consideration is your customers’ buyer’s journey — the series of steps that each customer undertakes between realizing that they have a problem and making a purchase. Every customer has a slightly different process by which they make a purchasing decision, but there should be significant commonalities in how your customers research products, the competitors they compare you to, and the factors they consider most important when making a decision. Understanding that process is key to creating a brand that will attract the people you want to sell to.
Consistency Across Platforms
Once you’ve established who your company is and who you’re trying to reach, you can start on the business of creating a tangible, memorable web presence. Keep your audience and your brand purpose in mind with every piece of content you create.
Names and Logos
Think about walking down the aisle at a grocery store, looking for a particular product you’ve used before. You’re not reading every single label until you find the one you’re looking for. More likely, you’re scanning the shelves for the color and shape of the packaging or the logo of the product you know.
The same principle applies to your online presence. When your customers open an email from you, see an ad on a page they’re reading, or see one of your social media posts appear in their feed, they should instantly recognize it as belonging to you before they’ve even read it.
Customers need to interact with your brand an average of half a dozen times before they make a purchase, and every impression adds up to their entire picture of who your company is. If your company represents itself in a consistent visual fashion across all channels, you’ll create a much more lasting impression.
No matter the channel or medium, the language you use should reflect your brand’s values and the values of your customers. If your customers read a piece of your messaging that breaks from the standard you’ve set, it will undermine the mental image they have of your brand and your company, damaging their perception of you. The same principle applies not only to the words you use, but to the voice and tone of your writing. Think about whether you’re comfortable using slang, contractions, and euphemisms. Are you talking to your customers as a friend or as an authority figure? Do you want to joke with them or keep things professional and formal? Setting a consistent tone will be important in establishing your customers’ perception of you.
Consistent, on-brand imagery, videos or other creative is crucial when establishing a digital brand. Visual imagery is very visceral and conveys a mood or an emotion the instant someone sees it, so it’s vital that you select visuals that reflect the message you’re trying to convey. Although you want to use content that is appropriate for different channels, the brand should be consistent through the visual elements.
A Brand for the Digital Age
The digital world is becoming more crowded by the day — more brands are making themselves known than ever and, thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever for your potential customers to find them.
If your brand is going to survive, you need to be unique, purposeful, and memorable. Take the time to think about who you are, what you represent, and how you want to be perceived. The reward is well worth the effort.