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Advice From Entrepreneurs on How to Brand Your Business Online – Part 2

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The internet seems endless. Each day there are sites popping up, reviews being given, items sold, things designed and the list goes on. Making a footprint on the internet can be an overwhelming task to a new business owner. For this reason, branding your business online can be a tough thing to manage. What sites should you promote on and how should your website look? The questions for how you should brand online are as varied as branding your business in the first place. Entrepreneurs and business owners were asked for their advice on the best way to brand your business online.

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Showing what your business is all about

Your online presence is all about your ability to create a positive, memorable image for your clients and potential customers. Showing what your business is all about is what your main goal should be for branding your business online; creating an identity is a key factor. Your logo isn’t just something that can be put together, you need a thoroughly planned out logo (color can make all the difference) for your business that will indirectly advertise itself when customers see it. This logo also needs to be clearly placed on your content-rich website as well as any social network you may use, keeping consistent to the same color schemes. You want your customers to be sure that if they visit your website, Twitter or Facebook that they are in the right place to interact with the business or other customers. Finally, you need to spread the word of your presence positively. Provide feedback with customers, blog using your expertise in whatever your niche is without advertising, and be authentic. Remember, this all takes time and won’t happen overnight.

Thanks to Kimberly Judd-Pennie, CyberMark International

 

Branding online needs the human element

Every interaction a user has with your brand is an opportunity to give them a great experience and helping you get one step closer to earning their trust and/or making them a returning user. When trying to craft a positive experience online, I believe the following are a few of the most important focus areas: consistency, usability, and human touch. Consistency is crucial in giving your brand an “identity” the user can connect their experience to, so the tone of the copy/text, the use of images, the color scheme, and even the tone on social media channels should never vary greatly or fail to support the brand’s goals. Inconsistency rarely leads to positive experiences. Next we have the usability of a website, mobile app, or other piece of software. Nothing will frustrate a user and ruin their experience faster than them not understanding how to use or navigate your product. Make sure you understand subjects like User Interface Design and really try to show your users that someone has consciously thought about the most trivial usability details, helping ensure a positive experience from the technical side. That brings me to my last point — human touch. Online marketing campaigns, mobile apps, and websites are all created by real people, for real people. It’s easy to lose that human element behind the screen of a laptop so opportunities for humor, a personal support email or chat, or any other way to demonstrate that you care for your customers is the ultimate brand building technique. When you understand these focus points and strive to prevent a single user from having a bad experience with you online, you will be well on your way to creating strong brand experiences.

Thanks to Michael Granados, Medko

 

Nurturing relationships online

I build a brand experience online by nurturing my relationships. I think that in today’s global economy, it is so easy to have your message lost in the overwhelming numbers of marketing mediums available. Entrepreneurs have to keep in mind that there is an actual flesh-and-bones person on the other end of that Hi-Def display screen. Rather than bombarding my prospects with constant marketing messages, I work hard to truly engage them in two-way conversation. I follow their social media activities, comment on their posts, offer recommendations to solve their concerns, congratulate their highs, and commiserate with their lows. In this way, my prospects get to really know and build a level of trust in me as well as an expectation around my brand. It is all about nurturing the relationship.

Thanks to Niquenya Fulbright, Building Bridges Chicago LLC

 

Getting your audience progressively engaged

One of the key aspects to building a brand experience online is to get your audience progressively engaged. There are two key ways to achieve that. 1. Brand Utility is where you are offering a recurring addition to the primary product or service which adds value to the user. For example in the travel industry hotel or airline booking engines add in other helpful travel tools such as Currency Conversions, Overseas ATM Locators and Country Telephone Dialing codes. 2. Gamification on the other hand is the use of game design techniques and thinking to enhance non game environments. For user generated content review sites, this involves publicly rewarding and recognising reviewers. They can be given progressively more senior titles such as Senior Reviewer etc.. and encouraged to add to the number of reviews that they submit and compare themselves to other reviewers. Trip Advisor is a great example in the travel industry of a company that has been able to use both tools of brand utility and gamification to really engage with their users and build their brand experience online.

Thanks to Konrad Markham, Evergreen Advertising & Marketing

 

We use friends and Facebook friends in our business

I am part owner of a clothing line out of Detroit called Detroit Respect. The way we focus our marketing online is We use our friends and Facebook fans as models for our clothing. When we first launched our company knew that we didn’t have the budget to hire models. We also knew that are clothes were/ are for everyone. It does not matter your age, gender, weight, or height we knew that our message is for everyone. At first we used our close friends as we built our brand. Then I put on Facebook that we are looking for models. I got over 400 responses in just a couple hours. We were shooting photo s of the stay at home mom who wanted to do something different, inspiring model who wanted to put this on her resume, musicians, artist, and more. As days went on by I got people emailing me just thanking me for using models they can relate to. Our Facebook likes jumped, sales increased and we were contacted by some local media. We love our customers and our proud they are apart of our vision.

Thanks to Colin McConnell, Detroit Respect

 

Establishing a presence that is recognizable to your consumer

When transitioning online, companies often forget that offline branding principles still apply. What is branding? According to Seth Godin, “a brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Therefore, branding online requires establishing a presence that is recognizable to your consumer, providing customer service that matches your core values and sharing experiences that tell your company’s story. As a digital marketing agency, Project Socialize leverages a consistent visual identity and authentic messaging on social media sites to tell our story and stay top-of-mind with current and prospective customers.

Thanks to Nikki Means, Project Socialize

 

Quickly conveying what you do

Online attention spans are short, so it’s important that your brand very quickly conveys what you do and resonates with the audience you’re trying to reach. Reload Digital’s online branding and personality varies across different platforms. Our website has a more professional feel and conveys the services that we offer, because it’s likely to be the first place a client encounters us. On the other hand, our social media pages have more of a fun feel and convey the creativity of our staff, because they are designed to play a part in our recruitment process. Imagery is really important – as is what you’re saying. So for us, across everything we do, it’s about showing people we’re an innovative digital marketing agency that knows its stuff and not only delivers results, but has fun doing it!

Thanks to Cara Whitehouse, Reload Digital

 

Consistency is essential

For me it all comes back to consistency in all aspects of my brand image. When I designed GRACESHIP my goal was to make all touching points and aspects of my company consistent with my brand identity. I’ve realized an authentic brand possesses its own human component or identity to it that tells their story. Recognized brands have a consistent personality and strong voice to them that draws you in. Brands are like friendships, they are built through continual experiences and interactions with the customer. What makes GRACESHIP grow is my brand being able to consistently stay relevant to the consumer market, because staying relevant means adding value to someone’s life.

Thanks to Emily Gimmel, GRACESHIP

 

Brand by looking at the client

To build a better brand experience online, we always need to look at the client’s personality, their target markets and which platform, be it a webpage or social media, works best for their specific needs. Not every company needs a webpage, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest account. After researching a client, we start their online presence on one platform. Starting on a small scale, we can then focus on making that experience the best it can be. We measure how our audience responds to the content. Do they interact with the content? Is this the audience we were trying to target? What is their feedback? As we begin to understand the way in which our client portrays themselves to their customers, we can better gauge how customers want to connect with the client online. However, it’s important to know that the job is never finished–there are services and platforms introduced everyday to help enhance the online brand experience.

Thanks to Paula Hare, Hare Strigenz, Inc.

 

By not being politically correct all the time

I brand myself online mainly through my Social Butterfly Club email newsletters. I send out 5 emails a month (2 events calender every two week, 1 Social Butterfly Club Member Spotlight, 1 Everyday Hero, and a month end newsletter that covers events I’ve put on or attended, wisdom from life lessons, wisdom from books I’ve read, and exciting things on the horizon). I am also very active on social media, 1300+ on FB, 1200+ on LinkedIn, 600+ on twitter. I decided not to put too much energy in Instagram, Google+ as I only have so much time. I find that the best results I get as a business owner is when I demonstrate excellent by my consistency, quality, and integrity as this year marks the 9th year for both GH and SBC, and my SBC members have been following me and reading my emails for many years. When I share my own struggles, challenges, learning, joys with them, they also open up, and throw me advice and encouragement. I currently have 2,800 dedicated members in Social Butterfly Club. We throw 2 in person events a year, a summer BBQ and a Christmas social. I also sometimes put on speaker seminars for my members, only for those stellar speakers that have changed my life. I believe to succeed in social media as a brand, you must bring in the human element, and not focus on being politically correct all the time and come across robotic and boring.

Thanks to Alice Zhou, Gracious Host Events & PR

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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