Brand Image and Brand Awareness are the essential ingredients to online marketing success.
How often have you considered your own brand image? Frequently, a business is busy working hard to keep customers coming and cannot help but lose sight of good branding opportunities for online marketing success. Larger companies have generous budgets and greater resources. But you have to start somewhere…
How to build your brand image?
Consistency. This goal should be engraved into your subconsciousness. Of course, it involves creative content generation across all your media; website, social networks, print, at your business premises and, importantly, your staff. But, it is imperative that they all interact harmoniously and consistently. If even one of these elements of your brand does not deliver, then it’s time to review.
Large companies have been doing it for years. Simple stuff like logo options, font styles, imagery, mission statement, motto or call to action become familiar to us all.
It’s been used effectively in the car industry for many years. BMW for example always positions their logo at an exactly pre-defined distance from text and images. It is always on a white background, with or without accompanying marketing text. And the use of slogans has always been carefully researched. “The Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan was first used in the early 1970’s and is instantly recognisable and synonymous with BMW.
Brand Building is a long-term objective
The first step is to completely review your business objectives. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (“USP”)? Who is your target audience? Are your values effectively and consistently communicated to your audience? Do your brand characteristics seamlessly align with your own vision, and moreover how people see you? If you can nail down what your customers want, and how to deliver that to them, you’re already building your brand image.
We talked a little about the power of authenticity in our blog post “What is Content Marketing?” You will need to resist the temptation to follow what everyone else is doing. They’re not creating a brand. You are!
Most instinctively memorable brands; are friendly brands.
Be helpful. Give your knowledge away. As covered in previous posts, nowadays most people first check reviews and conduct their own research into a business before getting in touch. This means you need to stop selling, and start being helpful. Pre-empting what you think a customer might ask or might need to know before buying from you makes for a meaningful interaction between you and them. And, it builds authority. Creates trust. Generates goodwill. And, makes you appear more human.
First steps in building your brand image
Now that we know that what it means to be a brand we need to take the first steps in the right direction. Initially looking at customer demographics we should be able to identify what age group buy the most of our products or services. Whether they are female or male? How many times do they buy from us? And how much? Do we know what their interest groups are? Do they live in Cyprus, or in another country? This is really easy data to collate. Online using tools such as Google Analytics, and at your place of business with a simple questionnaire or a simple dialogue between you and the customer.
Once you’ve identified what is your most popular asset and to whom it appeals, you can start to better target that demographic. We don’t mean just selling, we mean helping them to feel good about purchasing from you. This will also help you to develop your ‘brand persona’ enabling you to perfectly articulate why you are the obvious choice for the customer. These differentiators are not only powerful, they’re irresistible.
Your Online Brand Image
Easy wins first.
Is your copyright notice (usually at the bottom of your website) up-to-date? Being website designers it’s always one of the first things we look at. And, if we’re looking at it, you can bet a good proportion of your potential customers are too. It doesn’t look good if it’s last year, but if even older, immediately people will think you’re outdated and simply do not care about your brand.
Is your contact information easily found? How to get in touch with you should be immediately obvious to your website visitors. Making them work to find your contact details is a big turn-off. And, all it serves is to annoy them on their very first experience of your brand. So don’t make it hard for them.
Take time to have a review
Focus on the customer, not yourself. Did you know that promoting all the awards you’ve received isn’t actually adding value? Largely it is overlooked by a potential customer and is not what they came to your website to read about. Instead get ready to provide great content that solves their questions based on the customer persona work you’ve already completed.
Keep it simple. Since the rolling-out of Google’s “Mobile First” initiative and the increasing numbers of mobile users, removing some of the ‘bells and whistles’ could go a long way to streamlining your content. Whilst we all love some the cool flash-stuff times are changing. The trend going forward is for faster access to content that is easier to understand. We talk more about this in our post “Web Design What’s changed? And, how to fix it”
Blogging and Social Networks.
Empirical data has already identified the benefits of blogging regularly and sharing on your social networks. Blogs that are added at least once-per-week containing a solid foundation of useful information leads to better search engines results. Keywords for which you would like to rank, are better crafted when incorporated into a blog post. You can rank faster for terms that do not have a high KD (keyword difficulty) and that have a reasonable throughput of traffic. For more difficult to rank terms, try using Long Tail Keywords for better search engine ranking. Whatever you write though, has to be valuable!
Use compelling and engaging images and video. We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words especially for the high number of people using Instagram and Pinterest. Getting it right can be so utterly persuasive that it doesn’t matter what you’ve written. And, it is worth developing a style. Instagram, for example, allows you to apply filters to your images. Reusing the same filters helps to strengthen brand image identity. If your own images or stock images simply do not have what it takes, it might be time to hire a professional.
Using the same font size and style is also highly valuable. Continually using different fonts, combined with the irreverent use of your logo is damaging. And doesn’t do anything to improve brand awareness. Consider creating a uniform set of templates that work perfectly for all your marketing communications such as; business cards, flyers, posters, website and social media. Think BMW!
Other wins for your online brand image
Customer Service ChatBot (auto or live chat). No doubt you’ve all seen these discreet little chat tools popping-up everywhere. The Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) chatbot could soon scale-up to be the first-interaction that your customers have with you. If you’ve recently visited a business Facebook Page you may well have seen a chatbot with pre-defined questions; such as “What time do they open?” etc.
A chatbot, therefore, can be created to automatically answer questions. Or at least the questions you feel are likely to be asked. This could be good or bad. If done correctly, it could be a really good tool for out-of-hours responses to customer enquiries. If done badly, it may only help in confusing the customer. The happy medium would be to create a chatbot that permits both human (manual) and automatic interactions.