In an increasingly competitive marketplace, branding and brand recognition is an essential aspect of staying ahead of the curve. Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that branding recognition is only for big companies, but the truth is everyone must make a name for themselves, regardless of industry or size. Self-employed people, entrepreneurs, and small to medium business owners alike can benefit from creating a unique online presence for their brands. Here’s how to differentiate from the competition and stand out from the crowd:
Branding 101 – Know What It Means to “Build Your Brand”
Some business owners, and even some marketing gurus, think that building your brand and spending money on your brand are the same thing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Building your brand means that you’re constructing a reason for your customers to come to you for their needs time and time again – even when you’re not running a promotion. This not only boosts awareness and word-of-mouth advertising for your company, it also creates company loyalty. Growing your business online requires building your brand – developing that reason that sets you apart from the competition and drives value.
Building your brand online requires a little introspection – and a lot of market research. Here’s how to start:
Define your target audience. To effectively build your brand online, you must first consider who uses it, especially before you start creating communication and advertising plans. Fortunately, learning more about your target audience doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out tools from Nielson, Google, and Compete, which can help you learn more about your target audience and relevant information such as age, gender, marital status, and household income.
Determine your branding backstory. Through your research, you might learn more about what your target audience wants to hear. This will form the backbone of your brand’s story. For example, if your audience is primarily married, young, middle-class women with children, what do you think they want to hear about? Environmental sustainability, family friendliness, and social responsibility are all good jumping off points. As you begin to create a backstory, think of how to speak with your audience, not at them.
Create a Brand Appearance
Appearances may not be everything, but they’re certainly important when it comes to building your brand online. Your website is the first impression a prospective customer will have of your business, so think of it as your company’s online elevator pitch. There are several important considerations to observe when building your website:
Try Unique Color Combinations
The hues you choose for your website can have a direct effect on the emotion of your user. While color psychology is hardly an exact science, it can help inform your logo design and branding. Use this as a general guide:
- Yellow evokes feelings of optimism and warmth.
- Red is bold and youthful.
- Orange communicates friendliness and confidence.
- Green is associated with health, peace and environmental sustainability.
- Purple is creative and imaginative.
- Blue evokes trust and dependability.
- Grey is neutral and calm.
This can help inform the design choices you make, particularly with your logo.
Choose the Proper Font
Like color, your font choices can suggest a mood or voice. We recommend sticking to two fonts to avoid confusing your readers – one for body text and one for headings. Your fonts should also be easy to read, without unnecessary serif additions or embellishments.
Invest in a Quality Logo
A good logo is simple, identifiable, and scalable to work at all sizes. It’s what people will associate with your company, so it’s worth a lot of time and effort (and maybe even an outside graphic design team and creative thinking power).
Create Your Brand’s Tone
Lastly, to build your online brand, you’ll want to think about how you’ll approach audience engagement. This will ultimately be a culmination of your branding research, but it will also drive your content marketing, social media efforts, and all your other marketing channels. Some considerations that will drive your brand’s tone may include:
How do you want to present yourself? Are you humorous and maybe even a little cheeky? This works well if your target audience is younger, but can be a risk for older consumers.
What kinds of interactions do you want to have with your consumers online? Are you going to reach your customer’s with Facebook, or look for shout outs on Twitter? What will your blog and content messaging be about? You might not have all the answers right now, but this is worth a brainstorming session or two.
Building your brand online is a multifaceted process. Though you have to consider things like logo, design, and color, all of your research begins – and ends – with your customer. If you want to build a brand that differentiates well and people will turn to, the key lies in understanding the people you’re trying to reach. The rest is just details – but important details, nonetheless.