For the longest time, people have been talking about brands in the offline environment. When the Internet came around, companies noticed that they needed to build an online presence.This is how the digital brand was born. Click To Tweet
Now, more and more startups and small businesses are starting to understand how powerful the online environment really is, so they’re looking for effective digital branding solutions.
But first, let’s go back to the start for a minute.
Back in the day, brand was what we called a company and its logo. In the late 20th century, it evolved to a deeper, abstract meaning.
Today, a brand is formed by the experiences, memories, stories, and impressions that people who interact with your company have. Your competitors, customers, clients and prospects all come together to create your brand. You can’t control these interactions, whether you like it or not.
What you can do, is to make a conscious effort to build your brand.From your company's name, to your marketing efforts, you will make an impact on your niche market. Click To Tweet
Now that we’ve established the meaning of branding, let’s move on to digital branding.
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Digital branding is the process created by a company in order to build consistent brand messages online through multiple platforms.A digital brand is the impression a business leaves on a customer, a visitor, or any person who sees, or has contact with its messages.
Why digital branding?
There are over 3 billion Internet users worldwide. Needless to say, your company’s online presence is a must these days. You already know that. But what you might not know/understand is why you need to work on finding digital branding solutions for your startup or small business.
Here are some of the most important advantages of digital branding:
- It’s budget friendly. Startups and small businesses don’t usually have a lot of money for traditional marketing. Offline promotion can get quite expensive. TV exposure, radio, outdoor signs, banners, posters, and appearances in magazines or newspapers all cost a lot of money… money you probably don’t have. So why not invest the little you’ve got in something effective?
- You don’t need a lot of employees to handle digital branding. For traditional marketing, you would probably need a whole department of employees. A marketing manager, a designer, a copywriter, a project manager, a strategist, and the list can go on and on. Finding and implementing the right digital branding solutions for your business can be done with a handful of people or perhaps very few.
- The only thing you will need is an Internet connection. Because everything you’re going to do will be happening online, you can work from anywhere you have an Internet connection. In addition, if for some reason, you and your team can’t be in the same place, you can use Skype to communicate. There are also other productivity and management tools that will help you keep track of everyone’s progress.
- Digital branding is targeted and effective. It’s easy to implement a digital branding strategy because unlike traditional marketing, in the online environment, you are able to target and control the messages you’re promoting so you don’t waste your time. If you know the characteristics of your target audience, then it’s going to be much easier for you to create the messages and choose the right social media platforms.
- You can easily engage with your audience. On the Internet, everything happens now. You have to be there at all times (if possible), and be active. It has become so much easier for people to interact with a brand on social media, or through comments/chat on their website.
5 Tested Digital Branding Solutions For Small Businesses and Startups
Now that you know what the advantages for the digital branding of a startup and small business are, it’s time to see what the best solutions are so you can implement them into your strategy.
- Being active on social media. Don’t you find it a little bit weird when a company doesn’t have social media accounts? Or it does, but it rarely/never uses them? The first thing I do when I discover a new company online is check out their social media accounts and their website to find out more about them and how they communicate with their audience. Chances are that I’m not the only one that does this. Posting useful information for your audience and answering their questions in a timely manner are things you must do in order to grow your business.
- Being awesome at customer service. This is related to the first solution. Nowadays, people rarely go to your website to search for your support/contact email address or to email you about a problem or question they have about your product/service. What they do is ask that question directly on your social media accounts. It’s easier for a customer to tweet a company, send them a private message, or leave them a comment on their Facebook page. What you need to do is to be there to answer their concerns. Social media acts like a support channel as well, so don’t ignore it.
- Being consistent and relevant. Many startups and small businesses fail to be consistent when they first launch, but this is definitely one aspect they shouldn’t neglect. Be active on social media, post relevant news to your audience from different sources, use email marketing and show your audience that you’re open to feedback and at improving your business. If you fail here, then your target audience will go somewhere else, especially if they stop seeing any sign of activity from your side. Digital branding is about being as close as possible to your audience.
- Target your audience. As I’ve already mentioned, social media is a great tool because you can target your audience. That way, the messages you create will reach only the people who are truly interested in your company. This also means that you’re not wasting your time or your money, which are incredibly important resources for a startup or a small business. Not all social media networks are going to suit your business, so choose only the ones that are relevant, and where you can find your target audience.
- Storytelling and content marketing. Storytelling is a powerful tool that will help you deliver value to your audience. Once you understand how storytelling works, you can go ahead and start creating a strategy that will fit your company’s objectives. You can implement storytelling in your blog, and in your social media posts. It’s imperative that you use more than just words. Storytelling can be achieved through the power of visual content as well. Infographics, short introduction videos on your website’s homepage, slideshows and presentations all successfully integrate storytelling while delivering value to your audience.
This is why combining these two is a great strategy.
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Food for thought before I go…
I want to end this article with a short recap of what digital branding is, and how you should approach it.
Digital branding is about emotions, feelings, thoughts and actions. When a person comes in contact with a brand, he will automatically feel a certain way. When it comes to branding, everything you say, write and post has to provide value for the audience. If you’re not doing this, then you don’t exist as a brand.
In the end, branding is about differentiating yourself from the competition. It’s about being the best through your customer service and the content you provide. Most importantly, it’s about being empathetic and understanding.
This is how you’ll be able to grow your startup or your small business… by being awesome right from the very beginning.
Let me know down in the comments.