Small business guide: How to build your brand online
January 18, 2022
Developing your brand builds a strong foundation for your business. It’s how your customers and potential customers will see you, interact with you, and remember you. Building your brand online, when you don’t have a physical presence for customers to interact with, takes time and consistent effort. A successful online brand marketing strategy will set your business up for growth.
Studies indicate consistent presentation of a brand increases revenue by 23%. Consumers internalize your brand design and values and then become likely to purchase.
What is a brand?
Your online brand goes beyond having a recognizable name and logo that differentiates your business from competitors. It’s how your audience feels and thinks about you. It includes the meaning of the company name, the feeling they get thinking about you, and your company story.
What’s the difference between brand and branding? While the terms are similar and get easily confused as interchangeable, they aren’t. Branding refers to the strategy a company uses to influence how an audience perceives one’s brand. Examples include social media presence, advertising campaigns, website, content, and written and visual messaging. Otherwise, branding=actions.
Here are five tips for building your brand:
1. Identify your target audience
Develop your online presence with your target customers in mind. To begin, talk to your current customers. Discover what they do, industries, how and why they use your product or service, and why they chose you over your competitors. This can help you craft your customer persona and online target audience.
You’ll understand what social channels are most important to your target audience during this step. Of course, you’ll want a presence on all of them–but depending on who you’re trying to reach, some channels may take priority.
2. Audit your competitors
Are you the only one selling your product? If so, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, you have leading competitors and potentially new competitors entering your market. Something important for you to always know: what are they doing online? What do you like and dislike about their online strategies? Where do they find success?
Set aside time each week to look at their social presence and understand each competitor’s positioning. Subscribe to their newsletters, monitor media mentions by setting up a Google news alert, or use AI tools to track their overall online sentiment.
Following all your competitors on every social channel isn’t stalking; it’s research. Auditing your competitor’s branding will lay the groundwork for how you approach your own.
3. Develop your online personality
Ask yourself how you want customers to perceive your company. What you decide will determine your brand personality, also known as your brand identity. Even though we’re talking about a business, not a person, your company can still take on human components, emotional traits, and behaviors.
An excellent place to start is to think of brands you admire online. Chances are, many of them have distinct brand personalities. Some are snarky and funny, such as Wendy’s on Twitter and Duolingo on TikTok. Others show their humanitarian side, such as Patagonia, which regularly shares about its environmental efforts.
Brands like Glossier let their customers drive their online social presence through actual posts by real people. This strategy built around user-generated content doesn’t work for all industries but can show authenticity.
Then there’s Chewy, a customer-focused brand that uses its phenomenal customer service as the core of its branding.
4. Keep it consistent and authentic
Out of all our tips, this is the most important: Branding won’t be an overnight success. It takes time, effort, and consistency. Chances are slim that your first foray into branding goes viral and makes you immediately recognizable. Instill this in your brain as you make online branding a business priority: It. Won’t. Be. An. Overnight. Success.
Every public-facing piece you publish must have your brand colors and logo. The more your audience sees your brand, the more likely they will remember you. To keep branding consistent on social media, we recommend designing multiple variations of social media templates. This will not only make sure all your visuals on social platforms follow your brand, but it will also save you time.
How do you know your branding efforts are paying off? Invest in a social listening platform, if you can. Softwares like Meltwater or Sprout Social provide brand insights, sentiment, and reports from in-depth online and media monitoring.
5. Look professional with a real street address
Position yourself as a professional business, with or without an office. Yes, it’s possible to have a physical address with no overhead spent on office space rent, furniture, or commuting costs. How can you get a business address without having a physical office?A virtual business address.
Businesses must include a postal address on all marketing emails because of requirements set in the 2003’s CAN-SPAM Act. If you operate your business out of your home, it doesn’t look professional (nor is it safe) to put your residential address on marketing materials.
What is a virtual mailbox? A virtual mailbox? and virtual address provider will digitize your mail so you can access mail and your important documents online from anywhere. Earth Class Mail offers a premier network of 80+ addresses to choose from. You can have a prestigious address on Park Avenue in New York City, Market St. in San Francisco, or any other U.S. state you prefer.
We offer plans to fit every individual or business need and offer automatic check deposit by mail services. Ready to access your postal mail online? Learn more here.
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