A brand is much more than just a name and a logo. A brand represents reputation and emotion. When people hear the name of a beloved brand, they get warm and fuzzy feelings inside, while a brand embroiled in controversy can bring up feelings of hate and disgust. If you want to create a positive brand online, you need to actively work to cultivate its presence. As one of the top brand strategy companies, we work hard to ensure that online brand management is properly managed at every level. It’s not just about social media or visual branding; it’s about how all of the components of digital brand management fit together to create a whole that’s stronger than any of the individual parts. With that said, let’s look at everything that goes into digital branding.
When it comes to digital brand management, messaging comes first and foremost – even before design – what your company believes, what it says, and how it’s said.
“If you are saying the same thing as everyone else, then why would and why should anyone think you are different from everyone else?” – Loren Weisman
When you’re developing your brand and tone of voice, ask yourself a few important questions that may help with your overall messaging:
- What is your company?
- What does your company do?
- What’s your company’s vision?
- What are others saying about companies similar to yours?
- What makes you different?
- How does your company benefit others?
It may seem like a lot to answer, but these questions will help shape your tone of voice and how you position your company within the marketplace. Most of all, consider your personality and your target audience – how will you express yourself while at the same time relate to your audience? Are you a local flower boutique? Maybe the right tone is one that’s cute, chic, fun, yet elegant. Are you a product or service that caters to high-level executives? Perhaps your tone should be a bit more straight forward and “buttoned up.”
The key to your brand and branding as a whole is a consistency across all online platforms, even though your messaging may vary depending on the channel. You wouldn’t say or show things the same way on Instagram as you would LinkedIn, for example; think of how you’d be able to portray your message in a vibrant, visual way on Instagram versus a professional, business-type way of representing your brand on LinkedIn. Maybe, considering what your brand is, you’re not even on LinkedIn.
Whatever your messaging may sound or look like, make it unique. Make it authentic. Don’t rush through this important part of developing your brand. Once you’ve conquered it, the rest will come much easier.
In most cases, the first thing people notice about a brand is its design. Every child knows what the Golden Arches look like even before they’ve stepped foot in a McDonald’s. When it comes to design, it’s worth getting it right and finding a visual identity as soon as possible.
“Nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution.” – Unknown
It’s easy to put off design, using placeholders and promising yourself that you’ll replace them sooner rather than later. This sort of thing is fine if you haven’t gone public yet, but re-branding yourself after launch is very difficult. You risk losing the brand recognition you’ve already built up. There’s also the simple fact that most people are natural procrastinators, and if you don’t think you have time to work on visual branding now, then chances are you’ll always have an excuse for putting it off.
Don’t put design off. Figure out your visual branding early and try and use it consistently across your entire online presence. Elements like your logo should tie together all your websites and social media pages so that people known your brand at a glance. Consistent branding will amplify everything you do to build your brand awareness, online.
“Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life” – Avinash Kaushik
It’s important to have visuals that draw people in, but once they have visited you your site, feed, or profile you need to provide them with the sort of content that will keep them coming back. The Nike swoosh is a fantastic logo, but Nike would never have taken off if they didn’t provide people with quality shoes.
When creating content, you always need to do two things, satisfy visitors, and advance your brand. You should always be looking for ways to provide your visitors with useful content, but you also need to think about how the content will shape their perception of your brand. You might notice that people love silly videos, but if you’re running a funeral home then posting silly videos online will hurt your brand.
Take the time to create quality content that is firmly aimed at your target audience. If you can provide visitors with value while building your brand, then everyone wins!
Social Media Management
Top social media sites have reshaped the way that people use the internet.
Percentage of Americans who use top Social Media Sites:
- 73% – Youtube
- 68% – Facebook
- 35% – Instagram
- 29% – Pinterest
- 25% – LinkedIn
- 24% – Twitter
Keep in mind that these numbers are for all Americans. When it comes to Younger Americans, those percentages get even larger, with 94% of 18-24-year-olds using Youtube, 71% using Instagram, and 45% using Twitter. The younger your target audience is, the more important your social media presence is.
Getting social media profiles up and running is an important first step, but it’s not a one-and-done thing. Social media profiles are like plants, they don’t necessarily need a lot of care, but if they’re left alone, they will wither and die. If you don’t touch your social media profiles for months or years at a time, people will assume that your business is dead. You need to actively update your profiles and interact with people who reach out to you over social media. Social media should also always serve as a platform to support your content marketing. It’s the quickest and easiest way to get the content you spent valuable time creating out to an audience.
Social media is a crucial part of online brand management. When it comes to social media, you get out what you put in. If you want people to engage with your brand over social media, then you need to put some effort into it or hire someone to manage your social media presence for you.
If you wanted to advertise your business in the days before the internet, you needed to make sure that it got into local directories such as the phone book. Now the phone book has been replaced by directory websites like Google Places, Yelp, and Tripadvisor. These are different from other social media sites because of an emphasis on geography. People might be able to download a song from the other side of the world, but if they’re looking for a place to grab some food or spend the night they still need to make sure they’re looking in the right area.
The sites you need to look at will depend on the type of business you’re advertising. Restaurants might live or die based on their Yelp profile, while hotel owners typically find that Tripadvisor is more important. Every niche has its own directory sites and you need to find the sites that are most relevant to your brand.
Your first goal should be to make sure that your brand shows up on these local directories, but once that’s done you need to keep checking up to make sure that you’re getting positive reviews. If you’re working in a crowded field, your rating might decide whether you thrive or go under.
The age-old problem with review sites is that people feel more compelled to review things they’re unhappy with instead of things that satisfied them, so identify which pages are important for you and find ethical ways to encourage satisfied customers to leave you a review. The sooner you work on building your reputation, the better off you will be.
Achieving Long-Term Results
Online brand management means consistent attention and effort. It also takes time to create a solid online presence. It requires long-term thinking and steady work. The media is filled with stories of overnight success, but most of the time those stories leave out years of hard work that built up to the sudden success.
If you want a top-shelf brand with a solid reputation, then you need to have a plan, and you need to execute it with skill and consistency. We understand that’s a lot to ask of someone who is also running a business. That’s why we’re here, to do the work that busy business owners can’t do all on their own. We have help brands establish their online presence and manage their reputations. At The Brandsmen, we do the hard work that’s necessary to ensure that your brand gets the respect and recognition that it deserves.
Someone is going to build your online brand. If you don’t take steps to create it, then chances are trolls and dissatisfied clients will do it for you. Don’t allow others to define your brand, take proactive steps to build and maintain your online brand.
If you’re looking for help with online brand management, please contact a Brandsmen today.