How do you take your business online and keep your brand onpoint? It can feel daunting, but with the right guidance any sized business can create an effective digital presence. I’ve created a seven-step guide for small business owners, packed full of actionable insights for building your brand online – by the end you will have a route map to success.
Your brand is how your audience perceives your business, and you can help shape that perception with effective branding. Digital branding is simply the process of doing this online, and it’s a must for small businesses – here’s why.
In short, a strong digital presence can help you cut through the noise, mark yourself out as better than the competition, and start to grab your ideal customer’s attention.
A brand strategy is simply your long-term plan for building your brand online, and there are four main elements to it.
Get the basics down on paper first – why your business exists, how you work, and why you’re different from your competitors. Once you’ve reflected on this, you can start to think about how you’ll represent your business in a way that will resonate with your audience. How will your brand look, feel, and sound? In short, what’s its personality because you need to show this when building your brand online.
Every small business needs a website, it’s a place for your customers to visit, somewhere to share information, bring your brand to life, and an opportunity to sell. But, before you jump into the design of your website, plan first – think about it’s functionality, site structure, and content.
What do you need your site to do? Do you need to be able to sell online, or do you want a chat box for visitor interaction? Will there be a gated section for customers to log in?
Your website needs to be easy to navigate, so start by thinking about what pages you might need, and then make a rough map of how they will link together.
Think about the type of content that you’ll want to include, such as your copy, video, images, and other media. This will help shape the design of individual pages.
Creating valuable content is a great way of being able to interact directly with your audience and to influence your brand’s reputation. It can include anything from blogs to e-books, and infographics to podcasts, and video. But whatever format it takes, it must be authentic to your brand, and above all, it must provide value to your audience.
For hints and tips on how to create content that consistently represents your brand, download my free guide to building your brand online.
Emails are a great way of keeping in touch with your customers, but best of all they can be personalised for a unique brand experience. Simply using the recipients name in the subject line can boost open rates for your campaign, and you could also break down your audience into smaller groups and target them with a specific message.
Use this opportunity to craft an effectively branded email by including your:
Your email should be an invitation; it’s not the party itself. What do you want the recipient to do when they’ve finished reading your email? Where do you want them to go next – a product page, landing page, a sign-up form? Don’t miss the chance to convert them from a prospect into a paying customer.
Social media is a great leveller for small brands, because they can access the same space as bigger players, for free. It’s a place your audience already enjoys spending time, and if you get to know where they hang out, then you can capitalise on this.
So, how do you pick the right channel when there are so many platforms to choose from? Use my quick guide below for an overview of what’s available.
Facebook: Best for general audiences and brands that have something for everyone.
Instagram: A must if your audience is under 30 years old, but still useful for everyone.
Linkedin: Used for professional networking, so useful for business-to-business brands.
Twitter: There’s something for everyone on Twitter, as long as you find the right groups.
YouTube: An essential platform if video is part of building your brand online.
Applying your branding consistently across platforms will help social media users find you, and strengthen brand recognition for your business.
Brand management is the process of monitoring and maintaining your brand, including its assets. Brand assets are the things that your audience can see – the tangible components of your brand, that includes your:
To get the most from your brand assets, make sure you are using them consistently. Content is king, but consistency is queen. Create a set of guidelines on how to use these assets and share them with people in your business and agencies who work with you. Include in there how they should be used, designed, printed – and more!
If this blog has whetted your appetite and you’d like to know more about creating an online presence for your business, download my free guide – ‘7 steps to building your brand online’. It’s full of practical hints and tips, that you can put into action straight away no matter what the size of your business. If you’d like more advice on any of the things I’ve covered, contact me and let’s have a brew.