What is branding?
Your brand is you, your business, your products, and your customer’s expectations all wrapped up into a single identity. Branding in practice can mean a huge variety of deliverables – the most obvious ones being your logo and your colors. For an online business, branding is the most important part of your identity. Unlike brick and mortar stores, you don’t have foot traffic, so you need to draw new customers in from the vast reaches of the internet.
Below are the common components of branding:
- Social media style
Most online business follow a consistent brand across the basic components. However, most fall short when it comes to the less common, more complicated ones like:
- Terminology and phrasing
- Image processing (ex. Instagram filters)
- Social media format across platforms
- Customer service
- Email templates
Who should your branding target?
“You can’t be all things to all people” summarizes a problem that most online businesses find themselves trying to fix. Often times, business owners try to sell to everyone, and end up selling to nobody. Before developing your brand, answer the following questions (from The Balance):
- Who is your target audience?
- What do they think about your current brand?
- What would you like them to think about your brand?
- How will you attract them to your products or services?
- Who else is competing for their loyalty and devotion?
- Are you targeting business or consumer sectors?
It’s important that your brand focuses on the customer’s feelings, not on their wallet. It’s tempting to put your low prices everywhere, but that overwhelms your customers and makes it difficult for them to understand what they’re seeing. For example:
The Disney Vacation Club website is the entry point to their timeshare-style offering. Their homepage features a huge image of a family enjoying vacation in a room. Notice that the focus is on the family and the catchphrase “Discover the Possibilities”, not on the current deals or any phrasing that might imply that there is a rush. The image isn’t particularly “Disney” branded either – the only brand placement is the sticker. Regardless, you can see your own family in this frame, doing the same thing, and become interested in learning more.
How do you develop a brand?
Once you understand the “who” of your brand, you can work on the “how”. It’s difficult to get started on this, so it’s important that you write out what you want to achieve before you start.
- Write a list of 5-10 words that you want people to use when describing your brand (ex. “friendly”)
- Write a 2-3 sentence description of your target customer(s) (ex. “A 25-34 male who works in a tech field. He is into the latest technology and is always trying to get the latest gadgets”)
- Write 2-3 sentences about how you want that target customer to feel when the visit your website (ex. “I feel like this site it up-to-date and knowledgeable about technology.”)
Brand Definition (from Entreprenuer.com)
- 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?
Now that you know your direction, you can get started on developing the various components of you brand.