By Helen Cartright
Many, many years ago a brand was defined by a logo, name, slogan or design that distinguished itself from other brands. Today, branding is a lot more complex and more important than ever. Why? Well, with Australia’s boom in small businesses (an increase of 3.1 per cent in 2017) you want your business to stand out among competitors. You can’t do this by simply driving leads. Potential customers are not going to know who you are so how can they trust you?
Today, people are doing business with other businesses like never before. People want to know they can trust who they do business with. That’s where branding comes in. Creating a strong online brand establishes awareness and credibility. It allows potential customers to gain trust in you, and trust is the most important factor in driving sales. You want to build a business, an entity that resonates with your customers, one they will keep coming back to.
With this in mind, we are going to cut to the chase and give you the basic essential elements to get you started building your own brand.
- Research Your AudienceBefore anything else, it is important to have a clear understanding of your audience, especially before you start creating content strategies and communication tactics. You realise you won’t be able to compete with mass-market businesses by being all things to all people so zone in on a specific market.The key is to resolve a problem in a small market that will end up raving about your product or service. For example, if you are a violinist in Sydney, your niche market might be weddinged in NSW. You will make weddings your number one focus and bridal parties will be praising you and go on about your musical talents to other brides-to-be.
Next, think about why your product or service is unique. Do you offer convenience? For example, if you own a cake making business, do you offer home delivery and a large variety of designs to suit all party themes? Think about why someone would want to invest in your business.
And connect with your customer’s person to person. Wouldn’t you rather talk to a real person than a pre-recorded message? It is the same for your audience. You want to give them the real you. You want them to trust you.
- Social Media InteractionNow that you have a fair idea of who your audience is, give your brand a voice. Try to determine what your audience wants to hear and the message you want to put forward. Having an open mind, consider all ideas and work to introduce your brand through multiple channels. What do you want your brand to say? Think about the types of interactions you want to have with potential clients and how best to create these. Is Facebook right for you? Instagram? Twitter?Building a brand on social media doesn’t happen overnight but by being consistent, you will be able to build a strong brand across all platforms. Be consistent with your style, colour and language and even consider a posting routine – Inspirational Monday quotes, Fun Friday Facts, for example.
Use colours that make a statement but be sure to remain professional and consistent. Use tone and language that tunes in with your audience. If your brand is young and hip you might get away with more slang, but if you are targeting a niche market you can use more acronyms and industry-specific But, more than anything else, talk like a human being and give your brand a personality people can trust.
When responding to enquiries, don’t be afraid to use first names and humour, or witty dialogue. This will make your brand more relatable. Interact with potential customers and show them that you care about their needs.
- Create Compelling ContentNow that we have established that having social media presence is integral to exposing your brand, what’s the best content to convey your message? You want your content to compel your audience. Unique content should be the cornerstone of your brand. If you want to be the source customers go to in your niche, you need to affect change in their outlooks. The way to do this is by creating content that adds value and attracts people to you.Go into Facebook – what do you see? Videos, articles and images? These are all forms of content. Content is the winner. So, capitalise on articles, videos and even a blog.
People need to know what benefits they will gain from your brand. Just knowing the name of your brand isn’t going to cut it. Customers need to understand the qualities that make your brand unique. In your content, highlight the features and benefits that set you above the rest and show potential customers why they should choose you.
In order to create compelling content, you first need to know your audience. This will help you decide how best to structure content that appeals to their interests. For example, if your company creates flower bouquets, your audience is likely to be women. Show them that you know your industry and are dedicated to giving them an experience they won’t forget.
One of the best tactics for increasing brand awareness is telling your business’s story. Promote your brand in a way that shows how you started, how you succeeded and what your business values are. This will help you engage with your audience on a personal level, beyond your products or services.
- Create Online VideosYes, we realise videos are content, but video content marketing deserves a section all to itself. Not only do customers need to know your brand image, but they also need to know that your values align with theirs. And the best way to do this is through video content marketing. With 78 percent people watching online videos each week, video brings more opportunities for quality and creative content that converts better than any other content.Video allows you to convey your brand’s personality and create an unforgettable impression on your audience. In today’s busy world people don’t have time to read slabs of content. A short but upbeat video can explain your values and features in mere minutes. Video also ranks higher in Google searches so more people will reach your video before they get to written content.
Creating brand awareness in today’s thriving online business climate is difficult but video marketing will extend your audience reach and improve customer engagement.
- Adapt To ChangeFinally, this is an absolute necessity. We live in a world of transparency. People are sharing everything – their lives, what they are doing, what they are not doing. And you need to be able to adapt to this too if you want to be successful.Creating a brand instead of just products and services will see you prosper long-term in an ever-changing world. Look at Apple as an example. Ok, it might be a far-fetched example, but it is still valid. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started by setting up shop in Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1975 and began work on Apple I. Two years later, after Apple II was introduced, sales ballooned to $200 million.
Today, people will line up outside of the Apple store for hours to get their hands on the latest iPhone or iPad because Apple is a strong and sustainable brand committed to bringing the masses what they want. You need your brand to be trademarked in such a way that people can associate emotion to it.
So, if you are truly serious about building a successful business, it is imperative you start by developing your own brand online. Consider using these points as a guideline to give your brand enough strength and the value you need. Bottom line is, if you want to grow your business online you first need to build your brand.
Helen Cartwright is a passionate blogger, who excels in the Digital Marketing and Technology niche. When not wired in marketing strategies she ghost-write for a variety of authors who have their work published on leading online media channels such as The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com.