“Marketing is the engine of your business while branding is the fuel” – JT Foxx.
Branding is essential to driving online business sales, establishing credibility and creating a community of followers and engaged fans alike. According to branding expert Des Dobreva, you have less than 17 milliseconds to make a good first impression on your social pages and 0-8 seconds to grab someone’s attention on your website. Having a clear brand strategy for your online presence creates confidence in buyers and builds a strong reputation to grow a sustainable and successful business in the digital age.
Here are my five pillars to branding yourself online for success.
PILLAR #1 Ideal Client Avatar
Establishing who your ideal clients are (and who they are not) is a must for creating a successful online brand strategy. It’s the first step to becoming clear on what type of content to create for your social media posts to attract the right buyers and optimize your website for higher conversions and sign-ups.
Not only do you have to know the demographics, interests and where they consume information, you must really understand them on a deeper level. You need to know the conversations they’re having in their head in relation to their current state and their desired state to position your product or service as the most relevant option to get them there.
PILLAR #2 Key Messaging
Now you know who you are talking to, you can create key messages to communicate what you want the target audience to hear, see and remember you by. It’s a vital part of your branding strategy that builds rapport, connects with their belief system and influences consumer perception. Your online messaging should be simple and clearly communicate your value proposition. A confused mind never buys.
Developing five main key messages to consistently address throughout your content will position your brand with authority and lead your ideal clients to act on working with you. There are multiple angles you can take to emotionally connect with the thoughts, feelings and desires of your targeted audience by creating impactful and meaningful messages to reinforce your values and USP.
PILLAR #3 Brand Personality
Your brand needs to have a set of traits and characteristics that people can relate to. Think of some of the most recognizable and successful brands such as Starbucks, Nike and Apple. These brands have created a consistent set of personas that go beyond their products and services. It shapes the consumer’s perception and contributes to long term, effective brand equity.
Creating human characteristics helps define the look and feel of your website, logo, tagline, colors and fonts to communicate the personality of your brand. This also defines how you speak to your client avatar and delivery of the key messages. For example, you might want to be known as, ‘reliable, honest, cool, unique and confident.’ Choose five traits that you want to be known as and pick five traits you don’t want to be known as. This will help shape your brand perception to consumers.
PILLAR #4 Content Production & Distribution
Having established clarity around who your audience is, the key messages to deliver and the type of personality your brand is, you can create content that will speak in a way that connects and relates to their needs. Your communication style needs to reflect your brand’s persona on a consistent basis.
‘KNOWN’ author Mark W. Schaefer suggests thinking about the type of content you enjoy doing the most and can adapt to creating over a sustainable amount of time. Facebook data shows that audio and video content has the most engagement over plain text and photos. There are many avenues to create content in the form of blogging, podcasts, recorded webinars, audiobooks, cartoons, photographs, e-books, presentations and newsletters. Having a content plan will help curate and distribute the right content to the most suitable platforms where your audience spends their time.
PILLAR #5 Consistency
Consistency is the key to branding online because it creates trust and credibility and demonstrates your brand’s reliability to be an expert in your field. It is essential in building relationships over a long period with your audience and continually adds blocks of brand equity to your business.
Having a clear plan to build your online brand helps achieve your goals and become known for the services you provide and the way in which you do business. It has the potential to attract brand ambassadors and advocates who will expand brand awareness and grow much quicker than if you had no branding strategy in place.
Michelle Ciantar is a PR Communication Consultant who works with companies and businesses on effective communication strategies in digital marketing, brand reputation management, social media marketing, crisis communication and professional communication practice. Follow me on Instagram @michelleciantarofficial