Online technologies have made it possible for freelancers, designers, online retailers, professional creatives, and entrepreneurs to experience freedom as small business owners. This is because the internet has made it easier for everybody to create their own website, find a niche market or target audience, build an online presence, and sell products or services. However, one of the struggles that online entrepreneurs face is how to establish themselves as a brand while working or selling online.
What is online branding?
A brand is any feature that distinguishes a business' product or service from that of others. It could be in the form of a name, a symbol, style of words, or a design. Online branding ensures you get more exposure in all levels of marketing, including social marketing and search engine optimization. There are two major steps you need to take to succeed in online branding, namely:
- Defining and understanding your brand.
- Marketing your brand and building authority.
Defining and understanding your brand
One of the most important goals of online branding is to ensure that your customers can identify your business wherever they come across it. This involves having a very consistent image or tone on all your online properties, from blogs and websites to social media pages. To succeed at this, you need to first find your brand identity. You need to define what your values and qualities are, and let them guide each step of your brand development strategy. The following are some of the factors to consider when defining and understanding your brand.
1. Identify your target audience
This is one of the first and most important steps to take when developing an online brand. It is important to understand that every transaction is a conversation, and listening to your partners is the best way to ensure a conversation goes well. Some of the questions you can ask yourself when trying to identify your audience include?
- What is your audience's gender, group, location, and age profile?
- What drives them?
- How do they spend their time?
- What brands do they already like?
- What are their cultural icons?
- Which online platforms are they active on?
- What do they mostly do online?
- What does your online business offer them?
2. Define your brand's story
All successful brands have a unique vision or a passion to make a difference in a particular field. This is what is meant by a brand's story. This story helps articulate what your brand's mission and qualities really are. For example, Facebook recently changed its mission statement. In the past, Facebook stated that its mission statement was to 'Make the world more open and more connected'. However, the founder wrote on a Facebook note that his vision changed. He felt that while connecting the world and giving people a voice is very important, it is also crucial to bring people closer together. He changed the company's mission statement to 'Bringing the world closer together'. The question is, what is your brand's mission, and how can you use it to create your brand's story?
3. Define the look of your brand
After establishing your brand's identity and story, it is time to define its look. This a more technical aspect of online branding, and involves creating a visual presentation of your brand's personality and vision. Start by choosing a style that corresponds to your brand's identity. For example, if your target audience is youthful people who like art and pop music, a black and white look with influences from print journalism will not appeal to them.
Choose colors for your brand that can help sell your products successfully. It is very tempting to go with your favorite color, but you should instead study the color theory and choose a color theme that appeals to your audience while communicating your identity.
The next step of defining your brand's look is to create a winning logo. A great logo should be a condensed representation of your brand's identity, and it should look great wherever you put it.
Marketing your brand and building authority
After creating your online brand, you need to take it to the next level by building authority. You can start a blog with great content, including tutorials, videos, infographics, and industry interviews. Make sure your brand's personality is present and identifiable on all platforms, including your blog.
Great content shows your followers that you know your stuff, and this can encourage them to trust you. The key to blogging in online branding is to make it very apparent who is responsible for the blog. Whether the blog is actually your domain name, a sub domain, or a different website altogether, your readers should be able to tell that the blog belongs to a particular business.
The second step to marketing your brand is to write guest blogs for others. Guest blogging helps you build a presence online and establish yourself as an authority in your field. Always save links to blogs you write for other people, as you can use them as back links or refer to them in future posts and articles. You can also increase your presence online by commenting on other blogs. Find blogs and websites in your industry, read them thoroughly, and add a valuable opinion or comment. This can also help increase your online presence, which is necessary for online branding.
The third step is to make sure that your brand image is consistent. This is one of the main reasons why understanding your brand identity and story is so important. If you have a website, a blog, and a social media fan page, make sure the brand identity, colors, fonts, and logo are consistent. This ensures that whichever path a person uses to follow you, they can identify your brand.
The fourth step is to make it easier for people to find your social profile. Since so many people use social media these days, flaunting your social media pages can help you engage with your readers or potential clients better. Always include social media icons on all web pages to let visitors know that you can engage with them on these popular sites. Put social links on all your communications, including email newsletters. You should also make all your social media pages search engine friendly.
The internet has made it easier for all businesses to build a recognizable brand. Online branding can help improve your online presence and authority, thus helping your business thrive. You should, however, remember that online branding is a means to an end. Always stay focused on the real reason you started your blog or online business, and use these online branding techniques to ensure you reach this goal.