By Mike Auger
What is a brand? We can all easily name a few quickly. These brands permeate our culture on all modes of communication, like billboards, TV, digital and print. These top of mind companies may include newer brands, or ones that have existed for decades. Likely as a small business owner, you are not trying to compete in the same arena as these established names. However, the methodologies these companies have employed should apply to establishing your online brand.
Branding your website means knowing, first as the business owner and second as your customer, exactly what your brand represents. Once you have this defined, you can take some simple steps to reinforce your brand vision.
Define your brand
Before shelling out cash for a gorgeous logo or stunning website design, it is imperative to give thought to some of these questions. Knowing what these questions mean to you and your online business will shape what your website begins to look like.
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Spread the word
Integrate your brand within your company to further enhance your brand message on aspects like email signatures, what employees wear, and how the phones are answered. Building employee awareness is a key step in spreading the word.
Now that you have an amazing brand defined for your online business, what good is it if no one knows about it? A fantastic logo that creatively and succinctly embodies your brand is a requirement. Not a graphic designer by trade? Spend the money and work with a reputable company to get this important creative element designed. It will and should be used everywhere, including business cards, header of your website, on email communications and invoices. Integrate your brand within your company to further enhance your brand message on aspects like email signatures, what employees wear, and how the phones are answered. Building employee awareness of your defined brand is a key step in spreading the word. Be sure they understand and can articulate the attributes associated with your brand, even if your staff includes you, yourself and your dog.
Paying for advertising is another way to spread the word. Banner placements on industry sites and blogs, and pay per click (PPC) on Bing AdWords and Yahoo for your brand terms are good promotional tools. This step may be a bit further down the road in your marketing plan, but it needs to exist. Work with an expert to help guide you if this is something that seems scary. You can also utilize remarketing by showing display ads to people who leave your site without buying. Remarketing helps keep your brand top of mind to your website visitors that have not completed the buying process.
Establish a voice
Create a voice that is reflected in all written communications, visual imagery, and anything public facing that can assist in delivering your vision. Establish a memorable, meaningful and concise tagline that can be used for places that have text or graphic space limitations. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Even if you send an email marketing newsletter once a quarter, a consistent look and feel helps further ingrain your brand and messaging, and continues to get the word out.
Website visitors like to read about other happy customers. Display customer testimonials somewhere on your site. Have you won an industry award or achieved some specific certification? Display loyalty and trust building images on your site for further brand promotion. Another option for building brand loyalty and trust on your website are your social follower stats. Website visitors like to know that you have “X” number of Facebook followers, or Google+ fans. Finally, if you do not have a blog, get one. If you already have one, make sure you are posting relative and re-shareable content. Establish your website and your brand as a resource in your industry.