The internet has taken the business world by storm…
Heck, it’s taken the entire world by storm. It’s the biggest technological leap society has taken since the television was invented. And just like how the television took over society, so too is the internet thoroughly entrenched in our daily lives.
Businesses adapted to the television, and now they need to adapt to the internet. The online space provides fantastic opportunities to power past the competition, but it is also a space that, if neglected, can spell disaster for your brand.
This is why it is crucial to have complete and powerful digital branding. You simply can’t grow your brand into a dominant force if you’re not doing digital branding. And know this – your competition IS doing it.
‘Okay,’ you say, ‘but I do brand myself online. I have a Facebook page for my business…’ That’s not even close to enough. In fact, it’s barely a start.
That’s not saying that social media isn’t an incredibly valuable branding resource. The problem is that it’s just one aspect of a larger system.
Creating a successful digital branding presence: Platforms
The first platform to focus on: Website
You absolutely need a website in the 21st century if you want to be taken seriously. The way social media works in branding is that each platform should be guiding the prospect to one central point – your website.
Your website should look attractive and it should be informative. With a combination of these two aspects, your website can serve its primary purpose: pushing people down the sales funnel.
Of course, people want to feel comfortable before they make a purchase online. Your website, therefore, should epitomise your brand. A website that doesn’t align with your general branding efforts will feel disconnected from the image you’ve been pushing, making it more likely that customers pull out from a transaction before it’s been completed.
Your website is also the hub for your content. In this day and age, customers want to know that you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy, so creating market-relevant content is a good idea if you’re looking to build your brand. Don’t just offer a product or service – offer an experience, including education around your product/service and more general content related to your target audience.
You can simply write articles, or you could be more ambitious. Other opportunities include video, podcasts and infographics. The choice is yours.
The second platform to focus on: Social Media
A Facebook page (on its own) is not a sufficient online presence. People tend to spend a lot of their time on a variety of social platforms, so it makes sense to be active on more than one social media channel.
Your social media accounts are generally not sales mediums; rather they are about creating brand awareness. They can also be seen as lead generation opportunities in that they can convince people to visit your website.
Your primary focus, however, should be on building communities. Communities are a longer-term investment, but they can help you to take your brand to the next level. People want to feel like they’re a part of something, and the digital world allows for them to do this from the comfort of their own homes.
Social media presence
Ensure that your social media presence is interactive. You want people liking, retweeting, sharing and replying to your posts. If you can develop meaningful relationships with your audience, you’ve gone a step beyond advertising – you’re connecting directly with your prospects.
In this day and age, people don’t want to be advertised to. They see through the old-style advertising that has been used for decades. Rather, they expect a transaction – even in the marketing process. You’ve got to give them a reason to interact with your brand.
This is where social media posts shine. You can post pictures, videos, and links to valuable content on your website. All of this ensures that people are getting something out of your brand – just like how you are getting marketing value out of these transactions.
Digital brand personality
As a brand, it’s all well and good having your website and social media accounts set up… but if no one knows about you, it’s pretty pointless.
There are a variety of ways to get your brand out there. Some are easier than others and cost less (or even no) money. You need to balance these advertising types based upon your brand size, market, and needs.
The third platform to focus on: Advertising
Search Engine Optimisation
Firstly, there is SEO. There is technically no cost to implementing SEO – it is ‘just’ optimising your website, content and social media platforms in a way that makes them more visible to search engines. This theoretically allows you to be seen by more people when they search for relevant keywords.
Although SEO is free, you should probably consider paying an agency or at least employing a SEO specialist to deal with your SEO. This is because the actual process of implementing SEO is more difficult than it sounds, and they’ve got lots of experience in navigating through the various nooks and crannies of optimisation.
Paid advertising is a bit more aggressive than SEOas you have to actually pay for ad space. When compared to SEO, paid advertising can be more powerful when you need results fast, because these ads are prioritised when search results are shown.
Paid advertisements are, as the name implies, specific advertisements, rather than just optimized pages. You get to write specific copy to advertise your product or service and can even use extensions that personalise your advertisements. This also sets them apart from SEO-optimised pages, which are just normal web pages that Google thinks the searcher could be interested in.
Paid advertisements can also be implemented on other webpages and come in a variety of forms, such as text-based, image-based and video-based advertisements.
These mediums are where you connect with customers and build relationships. But how do you create a digital brand that does justice to these platforms?
Creating a successful digital branding presence: Brand Positioning
First of all, you need to build a solid understanding of your brand’s positioning within its market. This includes the following…
The first step for setting up a brand positioning: Brand Premise
A solid brand premise is crucial before you start any other branding activities.
Your brand premise is the area within your market that you look to own. For example, in the vehicle industry, you may want to own the luxury car market, the eco-friendly market, or the safety market. It’s not about what you offer; it’s about what your offerings can do for your customers.
The second step for setting up a brand positioning:
Target Audience Profile
Now that you know what you want your brand to target, you need to know who you’re targeting. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Keywords Planner to see who is viewing your content, and what people are searching for around your brand premise. You can also use more traditional means like questionnaires and interviews to get qualitative information about your target audience.
The third step for setting up a brand positioning: Slogan
A catchy, relevant slogan can build your brand’s identity. Brands like Nike and McDonalds use slogans that appeal to the experience that their customers can get when using their products.
This is the most important thing about creating a slogans, and one of the most important things in branding as a whole: it’s not about the offering, it’s about the experience.
The fourth step for setting up a brand positioning: Tone of Voice
Your tone of voice sets the scene for your brand identity. If you talk in a casual, colloquial tone, it could build a brand personality of relatability and relevance. If you use a more formal, measured tone, you may give off an air of exclusivity and luxury. Choose your tone wisely with your target audience in mind.
Now that you understand how who you’re communicating with and how to communicate with them, it’s time to take your brand and concretise it with brand design.
Creating a successful digital branding presence: Brand Design
A good-looking brand design is a key aspect of your digital branding efforts. If you can present your brand in a way that is attractive, you are more likely to grab and keep the attention of your prospects. Understanding the process of brand design involves doing extensive research into a variety of design areas, including
- Logo Type
With all of these understood and optimized, you’ll be well on our way to developing a digital brand that stands out.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of your brand design efforts is consistency. If your digital branding isn’t consistent across all of your platforms, you’re not going to be able to achieve optimal customer loyalty and trust.
Think about it – have you ever seen a purple McDonald’s ‘M’? I highly doubt it, because big brands like McDonalds understand the power of consistency across all branding efforts.
Don’t forget that it is incredibly important that you also keep brand design consistency across your digital and physical branding efforts. If you’ve developed a consistent digital brand design, but it’s different to your physical branding, you’re still going to lose trustworthiness and loyalty.
Let’s go through the four listed design areas in a bit more detail.
Step 1 of Brand Design: Font
Font is an undervalued part of digital branding design. Different fonts imply different things, and so choosing a font that works with your brand’s message is incredibly important. You can choose between traditional serif fonts, modern sans-serif fonts, and a mixture of the two.
Step 2 of Brand Design: Colour
Your colour palette changes how your brand appears to your audience. Certain colours have certain connotations, and as a result suit some brands better than others. For example, brighter colours tend to work well to make brands appear active and modern, while colours like silver, gold and purple give brands a luxurious feel.
Step 3 of Brand Design: Logo Type
There are a variety of logo types that you can choose from. Some of the more popular options are icon logos, word mark logos, and combinations of the two. The way you style your logo should also work with your brand image – if you’re a luxury brand, you want something subtle yet classy, whereas if you’re targeting children, you will be looking to design something more colourful and animated.
Step 4 of Brand Design: Imagery
Images are incredibly important in the digital branding world. The internet loves seeing – not just reading. Therefore, you need to make sure that your imagery attracts the eye of your audience, giving your brand the opportunity to pull them further down your pages of content or sales.
Creating a successful digital branding presence: Marketing Assets
Once you’ve set up your various platforms and designed your digital branding image, you’re going to want digital marketing assets that you can use to build upon these assets. There are a wide variety of digital marketing assets to choose from, and some are more necessary than others. Let’s look at a few of them.
Social Media Banner
Once you’ve set up your social media accounts, you’ll need banners to put at the top of your page.
The trick here is to design one good banner, and then rework it to fit the various dimension requirements of the different social media platforms. This is to maintain consistency across your social media platforms.
Your social media banner is an obvious place to insert your logo and create a visual that represents your brand image. Doing this allows you to push your brand identity into the minds of those who view your social media accounts.
A good landing page targets one specific intention within the scope of your digital brand identity.
For example, your home page is a landing page, and the intention is to host your special offers, latest content, or whatever is important to your particular brand.
Another example of a landing page is a lead magnet page. If you offer a free piece of content in exchange for an email address, you could (and should) create a landing page that focuses upon this value offering.
These landing pages allow you to add your brand’s specific flavour to any and all of your offerings. If you’re a casual, playful brand, you can use your bold colours and colloquial language to market your lead magnet, whereas if you’re a B2B brand, you can post important information that sets you apart in a concise yet thorough manner.
Nothing personalises your brand quite like… well, people.
Get a company video so that you can highlight your company culture and promote your unique brand identity. A good company video can set you apart from the competition and emphasise your brand’s strengths.
Company video can be embedded on a variety of platforms – from your website to your social media pages. And if it’s a good company video, you’ll want to do this because it will help massively in your branding efforts.
Brand Strategy Document
All of these great branding ideas need to be formalised somewhere.
Otherwise you might forget your fantastic ideas and lose your brand-developing genius. We don’t want that…
To avoid this, write it all down in a comprehensive document. This document will include every single possible branding idea that you’ve concocted.
We’re all human, and we all forget things. It would be very surprising if you remembered every aspect of your brand strategy indefinitely. That’s why a brand strategy document is invaluable.
Don’t forget to disperse this document to anyone and everyone who is a part of your digital marketing efforts so that they all follow the same branding blueprint.
Good online branding presence examples
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of digital branding, it’s time to work through some examples of digital branding that rocks.
Red Bull are famous for breaking the mould as far as branding is concerned. They were one of the real drivers of the content marketing movement, and they continually test the waters in new markets like professional gaming.
Their digital branding is predictably top-notch. Red Bull is an energy drink company, so they know that their target audience is people who want energy and to be active. As a result, they focus heavily upon adrenaline-related activities like extreme sports. At the time of writing this article, there are pieces on their home page about ‘the fastest man in rugby,’ a Norwegian snowboarder, a water cyclist and a surfer.
For anyone interested in being active, these are incredibly interesting pieces of content. They have a solid understanding of who they’re targeting and design their content towards this group of people.
Their logo and colour choices are bright and eye-catching, furthering the active, exciting brand that they’ve built. Their imagery is centered around people doing exciting things, and their fonts are modern and bold.
On their Twitter account, their profile banner is a picture of a dirt biker spraying dust into the camera. Their tweeted content is also about sports and activity.
All of this works together to consistently put forward a clear brand image about Red Bull: They are a vibrant brand that is passionate about getting active and doing crazy, extreme things. Their digital branding efforts have resulted in people immediately associating their brand with this positive idea and has forged them into arguably the dominant energy drink brand in the world.
Nike’s brand is centered around motivation and inspiration. The idea is that, using Nike’s products, you can achieve your goals and improve yourself.
Their digital branding is powerful at achieving this. Their website is centered around simplicity, with minimal distracting colours being used. Everything is made simple, efficient, and capable of navigation.
Even their logo, the tick, works with their digital branding efforts to highlight the brand’s focus on achievement and reinforcing one’s capabilities.
Nike’s Twitter feed is littered with motivational phrases and inspirational visuals and video content to match. This furthers the overall brand identity that Nike promotes – that you can, and should, ‘just do it.’
Finally, let’s look at Apple’s digital branding. They promote themselves as a fashionable, innovative tech brand. Their digital branding efforts are clearly based around this brand premise.
For starters, their website is very clearly geared towards this idea. Their imagery is aggressively designed around making their products look fashionable thanks to fancy camera angles and special lighting. The site is simultaneously very simple, with big tiles being used for each section rather than lots of fancy gimmicks.
The imagery itself is also simple – highlighting the beauty of the devices, rather than trying to include lifestyle imagery.
Surprisingly, Apple has never tweeted. They created their Twitter account in 2011, but in the following seven years have refrained from using it.
This is likely a publicity stunt in its own right, appealing to alternative, fashionable people who enjoy the hipster idea of shunning social media. This is an aggressive marketing idea and would not work for almost any other brand in the world. But it highlights their appeal towards eclectic, fashionable people.
Nobody is expecting you to compete with Red Bull, Nike or Apple right off the bat. But you can certainly compete with, and dominate, your own competition, and potentially expand your brand to new heights. Good luck!