Business Branding: A Guide to Building a Great Online Brand

By June 23, 2020 online branding
Business Branding A Guide To Building A Great Online Brand

What does it mean to brand your business? 

Business branding is about much more than designing a logo or tightening up your mission statement. 

It’s about transforming your business into an experience, turning each interaction into an opportunity to create memories, cultivate trust and inspire repeated engagement with your brand. 

“Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.” – Jay Baer

Business branding: what it is and why it matters

Business branding: what it is and why it matters

Here’s a look at what business branding means and why it’s so crucial to success in today’s marketplace. 

Business branding: a definition

Business branding is anything you do to create, maintain or adapt your messaging to define brand identity and set consumer expectations. From designing brand logos to posting brand updates on social media, branding is how you communicate your values, shape public perception and generate consumer sentiment that inspires engagement with your company. 

“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.” – Ashley Friedlein

Where brand is the impression you’re making on customers, ultimately influencing how and where they interact with your business, branding is what you’re doing to cultivate that impact – those behind-the-scenes motions and strategies that maximize brand value for your company.

Why does small business branding matter?

Why is branding so important?

Carrying out a compelling brand build is what:

Establishes Identity

An ongoing and proactive business branding strategy is how you carve out your niche and distinguish yourself in a competitive business climate. 

Sets You Apart

Branding allows you to steer the conversation about your company, establish expectations about your brand and advertise your unique value to a broader audience. 

Builds Awareness

An effective branding approach is essential to building a more robust brand, expanding your reach and strengthening brand recognition among key demographics.

Promotes Values

More than ever, customers choose brands that share their values. Good branding provides a powerful way to demonstrate your core principles and goals as an organization. 

Creates Trust

Consistent, impactful branding lends your company an image of stability and reliability, central to cultivating trust and earning repeat business over the long-term.

Generates Buzz

Effective branding creates excitement around your business, delivering an experience that gets people talking and puts your services in the spotlight. 

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Seth Godin

Your brand is how people know you. It not only represents your products and what sets you apart, but the experience your customers believe in and count on during each interaction. 

Taking a thorough approach to online branding is how you control that experience, creating an impression while delivering a compelling reason to return and engage with your business in the future.  

Branding Your Business: 10 Basics You Need to Know

Branding Your Business: 10 Basics You Need to Know

Branding Your Business: 10 Basics You Need to Know

Branding your business is, well, important business. 

And building a brand that enables success means knowing what makes good business branding possible.

Here’s a look at 10 essential tools for building an effective branding strategy and maximizing your online impact.

  1. Digital audit
  2. Competitive Research
  3. Audience Segmentation 
  4. Logo design
  5. Website design
  6. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  7. SEM
  8. Content marketing
  9. Social media marketing
  10. Consumer review management

1. Digital audit

Business Branding - Digital audit

Digital audit

Comprehensive digital audits are critical branding tools used to flesh out every detail of your online presence – and provide the data-driven analytics needed to reinforce your brand building strategy

A thorough online audit involves identifying and analyzing each mention comprising your digital footprint, including:

  • Business website content (home, about us, landing pages, etc.)
  • Blogs & news articles
  • Social media posts/updates
  • Online reviews
  • Discussion boards
  • Search results (ranking for key industry search phrases)
  • Customer sentiment

Digital auditing is more or less a digital SWOT analysis tool for identifying strengths, weaknesses and unique opportunities for brand development and growth. 

Start by knowing what you want and who you are, build credibility around it and deliver it online in a compelling way.” Krista Neher

2. Competitive research

Business Branding - Competitive Research

Competitive research offers insight into competitor performance among important search phrases and demographics. It shows not only what competitors are doing to rank in local search, but how they’re motivating customers to action and nurturing the relationships that strengthen long-term connections. 

Research is also an excellent opportunity to compare your organization with local competitors. With a side-by-side analysis of your company against others in your industry, you can zero in on areas of brand overlap and places your online footprint may need a little more definition. 

Competitive research is an excellent tool for sharpening your branding strategy, identifying ways to set yourself apart and locating opportunities to deliver a unique brand experience. 

3. Audience segmentation

Audience segmentation - Digital audit

Audience segmentation – Digital audit

These days, the most compelling brands are those that meet customers on a personal level. Doing so means not only knowing who is buying your products, but building a brand that delivers rewarding experiences to each target audience – and at each different stop along the buyer’s journey. 

In-depth audience segmentation and persona building are elemental branding tools, allowing you to define your customer base and develop a brand that captures their attention. 

Audience persona building may include any number of factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Education
  • Online buying habits
  • Social media activity

The most important thing to remember is you must know your audience.” Lewis Howes

4. Logo Design

Audience segmentation - Logo Design

Audience segmentation – Logo Design

Never underestimate what a great logo can do for your brand. 

Featured on your landing pages, white papers, client communications and products, a consistent, compelling logo can capture people’s attention while cultivating an association that’s hard to forget.

It also becomes a tangible and memorable connection to your business – a visual reminder of who you are, what you provide and the type of experience to expect when interacting with your organization. 

Logos trigger feelings, memories and associations that last well beyond the transaction, sparking reactions that can influence buying behavior and produce tangible results for your bottom line.

5. Website Design

Audience segmentation – Website Design

Your website isn’t just a place for featuring your services and selling your wares. It’s also where customers go to learn about your business and what you’re all about. 

Your site is your home base, your online storefront and your central branding hub all wrapped into one. It’s where your brand really comes to life and where brand credibility is established. 

In other words, having a good website is essential to effective branding. And good website design and development are crucial elements to include in your business branding toolbox

Strong site design:

  • Optimizes site speed and loading times
  • Maintains brand consistency across each page
  • Provides a friendly, fast user-experience
  • Makes navigation and finding solutions easy
  • Promotes brand values while inspiring brand engagement

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand

Ultimately, your site is where you have the most control over your digital narrative and defining the brand experience.   

6. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Business Branding - Search engine optimization (SEO)

Business Branding – Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search visibility is key to solidifying brand relevance, establishing credibility and demonstrating the expertise important to your customers. 

SEO best practices are what drive that visibility, positioning your brand as a resource of information, value and solutions when needed most. 

Incorporating organic ranking techniques like link building, meta-data optimization, natural keyword inclusion and quality content creation while avoiding the big SEO no-nos is essential good branding practice and improving brand presence for relevant  industry search phrases. 

And because search engines are continually evolving, staying privy to search engine updates and adapting your SEO strategy regularly is essential to maintaining visibility over the long term.

7. Search marketing (SEM)

Business Branding - Search marketing (SEM)

Business Branding – Search marketing (SEM)

Also known as paid ads or PPC, search marketing (SEM) offers a quick path to rank for important search queries and branding your business as a leading industry service provider. 

While not as authoritative as SEO rankings, SEM does provide an instant boost to the top of search results and prime Google real estate, shining a powerful spotlight on your brand with an immediate impact on your customers. 

The right search marketing strategy combined with long-term SEO provides an impactful one-two punch when it comes to dominating search and strengthening your brand. 

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos

8. Content marketing

Audience segmentation - Content marketing

Audience segmentation – Content marketing

“Content is king” is more than a digital marketing buzzword. It’s also an essential business branding precept every brand builder should take to heart when carving out their online niche. 

Content marketing is how brand messaging is created, delivered and continually reinforced across the web. It’s how brands build relationships and communicate value with online audiences across all corners of the digital marketplace. 

Without a carefully-coordinated content development, publishing and promotion strategy, your branding efforts will likely miss the mark altogether, failing to reach and motivate the people you need to optimize brand impact

Types of content typically involved in digital branding: 

  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Landing pages
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Video
  • Ebooks
  • Case studies
  • White papers

Content and content marketing offer a variety of ways to build connections and create a truly inspired online experience, cultivating memories and recognition beyond the initial interaction. 

9. Social media marketing

Business websites and search results may be where branding begins. 

But it’s your presence and efforts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok where your business brand build really takes off, setting the tone for brand engagement and nurturing the relationships that power long-term success. 

More than ever, consumers discuss, interact with and share brands on social media. And not only do customers discuss and exchange info on products and services across social platforms, they often become enthusiastic brand ambassadors, testifying about their experience while promoting your business as the name friends and followers should turn to whenever in need. 

Social media provides a dynamic branding tool and a powerful way to keep your business ahead of the curve. 

“People want to do business with you because you help them get what they want. They don’t do business with you to help you get what you want.” – Don Crowther

10. Review management

Business Branding - Review Management

Business Branding – Review Management

How does online review management factor into branding?

Consumer review sites are now one of the first stops your customers make along the buyer’s journey. More than 97% of people turn to reviews before taking the next step, while more than 94% of consumers won’t even consider a purchase after coming across a negative online comment. 

Reviews are so influential that more than 90% of millennials (18-to-34-year-olds) trust reviews as much or more than personal recommendations!

What’s more: on average, online shoppers need to see at least 40 reviews before believing a company’s online rating, even if you’re a small business!

How to brand your business

Business Branding - How to brand your business

Business Branding – How to brand your business

Branding your business? Need a nudge in the right direction?

Here are a few pointers for building a brand that pulls your business out of the background and into the spotlight:

1. Establish Clear Goals 

What should your branding accomplish? Clear goals help shape and focus your business branding strategy, providing the direction needed to build your plan-of-action. 

Goals for branding a business may include:

  • Increasing engagement across social platforms
  • Expanding your online footprint
  • Generating leads for your sales team
  • Reaching new audiences and growing your customer base
  • Improving brand loyalty among existing customers
  • Increasing bottom-line revenue

Once you have established a set of clear goals, keep them at the forefront of your branding and orient each element of your strategy accordingly.

2. Market To Your Audience

Strong brands structure branding strategies around specific audiences, consumer segments most likely to connect with and benefit from what they have to offer. 

With that in mind, it’s crucial to research your audience and competition, create unique customer personas, monitor feedback and consider this information carefully throughout your marketing and branding.

When you know your audience and each customer’s unique pain points, the other elements of branding your business will fall into place. Keep your audience marketing plan at the forefront of your branding campaign to guide each decision.

3. Create Style Consistency 

Consistency is crucial for creating good company brands. Style consistency is a pattern of communication and expression that affects how people think about your company.

The better your branding consistency, the more your customers will develop an affinity for your products or services. For inspiration, look at the style guides from your competition. This guide from Mozilla, for example, sets a tone that the company uses across all products.

4. Build Your Content Strategy 

Align your content strategy with your company’s brand strategy and style for consistency. Your content strategy is how you communicate who you are and what your brand represents on top content platforms across the web.

 Here are a few tips for developing a content strategy to elevate your digital branding effort:

  • Align content with brand identity and values.
  • Vet content ideas against brand personas.
  • Use brand storytelling to guide your content.
  • Plan multiple content types on critical platforms.
  • Map the customer journey. 

5. Map Out Your Website 

Online branding for your website should match the rest of your brand. Your site should represent your brand’s personality, present your mission clearly and provide a rewarding user experience. A well-branded website should have a set style or theme that goes with your existing brand style. 

Use psychology to pick colors that will positively impact your audience, and typography that matches your company branding. Find a web designer to fine-tune your layout and website branding for clean customer experiences across all landing pages. 

Want to stand out? Learn what data-driven performance marketing can do for your branding strategy:

3 Ways to Build an Audience for Your Brand

At the heart of any successful business is a loyal brand audience.

And without a business brand that resonates with consumers and inspires people to action, your business will fall short of reaching the audience you need to compete or retain the competitive foothold needed to thrive in today’s digital climate.

Building An Audience? Start By Building Your Brand

These days, cultivating a stable, engaged brand audience requires a smart, consistent and proactive digital branding strategy, empowering a more robust online brand and continually inspiring customer engagement.

Building a brand that captivates users and turns clicks into customers begins with:

1. Content

Digital content is what puts your online brand on the map. It’s key to driving online visibility, strengthening authority and showing your customers you mean business.

But not just any content will do. Building the audience you need to succeed means creating blogs, articles, videos, profiles and social media posts that provide real value, educating and inspiring prospects while positioning your brand as a top resource of industry expertise.

High-quality content is crucial to the success of any digital branding campaign and ensuring your brand always has a seat at the online table.

2. Engagement

Business Branding - Engagement

Business Branding – Engagement

It’s impossible to overstate the value of customer engagement. 

Whether it’s responding to online reviews or sharing updates on Twitter, engaging your audience is the key to cultivating relationships, building a positive reputation, establishing credibility and steering over the online conversation.

Active, one-on-one engagement personalizes your brand and demonstrates the value you place on the customer’s time. It also reflects the value you place on customer experience and shows you will stop at nothing to get things right.

When engagement is part of your digital branding approach, you can connect with customers on a granular level, gain invaluable insights into customer behavior and turn issues into opportunity.

3. Maintenance

A smart content strategy and ongoing customer engagement are essential. But maintaining a trustworthy online brand requires vigilance and a commitment to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.

Digital upkeep and constant brand monitoring are needed to prepare your business for digital threats—online reviews, comment boards and social media crises—and stay ahead of the curve and make on-the-fly changes to your digital marketing strategy.

Knowing of new online mentions when they occur, updating blogs and managing social media profiles is a lot of work. Yet, all are key to maintaining the audience and brand awareness your business needs to remain an effective part of the digital landscape.

HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS

Business Branding - HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS

Business Branding – HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS

Today, business branding takes place in the digital landscape. And building a brand people recognize and return to is hard to do without an active presence on social media.

Did you know nearly 3 billion people use social media? Or that digital consumers spend an average of 2.5 hours per day on social media networks? That is equivalent to 1/7 of their waking lives.

In a world where the average user has seven social media accounts, it’s no surprise that 90% of businesses use social media as a part of their marketing strategy. If you aren’t among them, you’re selling your business short.

Social Media Is Here To Stay

With growing popularity and reach, it’s safe to say social media is not going anywhere. 

What’s more: social platforms now one of the best ways to brand your business and build meaningful connections with your target audience.

And the sooner you tap into that potential, the better.

If branding is on your company’s to-do list, it’s time to create an effective social media marketing strategy.

Using social media to grow your business requires:

1. Picking Your Platforms

Before expanding your business with social media, it’s important to select the right platforms. Researching your industry and competition is key to determining the best social strategy for your brand. Three is a reasonable limit, but two may be best to get started.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok are some of the fastest-growing (and most popular) business branding platforms.

2. Setting Goals

To measure campaign success, you need clear goals established right from the start. Clear goals help shape your social media marketing approach.

If your goal is to drive sales, for instance, your strategy should reflect that purpose.

3. Designing Your Strategy

With goals in place, you’re ready to draft a plan. You need to know who will manage your social media efforts, what each team member’s role is and what the team should be doing on a day-to-day basis.

Defining who your audience is, what they’re interested in, where valuable content is, any new content needed and where to post is a good start. Take this a step further by making a content creation plan centered on your target audience.

4. Expanding Your Audience

Once your social accounts are active, it’s time to start growing your audience. You can accomplish this organically, with paid channels, or (ideally) both.

Start by leveraging your current marketing channels to raise awareness about your social media presence. Include social media buttons in emails and on your website to market your brand. Contests and incentivized campaigns may also be useful.

5. Engaging Your Audience

Posting regular valuable content is essential, but it isn’t enough. You need to engage your audience across each platform you’re developing.

Research who your audience is and what motivates them, then start a conversation. Ask questions, post polls, invite your followers to share experiences and try getting their attention with a little humor. 

What’s Next

An effective digital branding strategy is how you defend and define your brand online. It’s what provides your business the voice, messaging and reach to build trust, speak to customers, stand apart from the competition and nurture the relationships at the heart of long-term success.

And if you’re ready to boost your online profile and build a brand that delivers results, we’re here to help. 

Call 720-669-7118 to schedule your free small business branding consultation today.

For  more on #buildingyourbrand online, check us out on Facebook and Twitter

Brandon P

About Brandon P

Brandon Purdum manages the content team at Marca Global. His focus is writing informative, engaging content that helps brands improve outreach and achieve their digital marketing goals. He is an avid reader, aspiring novelist and father of a precocious four-year-old.

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