When running an online business, you need to stand out from the crowd. Chances are there will be hundreds of other companies online just like yours. As many companies have discovered over the years, the key to beating the competition is to create a brand. It doesn’t matter if you are a solo entrepreneur setting up in your own bedroom, or if you have an office and employ your own staff, successful branding will bring you the recognition you are looking to achieve.
What is branding?
In simple terms, your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. It is what your business stands for, its values, and your promise to the customer. Your brand represents you, and you represent your brand.
Consider the breakfast cereal you eat in the morning. There are many boxes on the supermarket shelves all jostling for space and trying to get your attention. There are the supermarket branded cereals, generic in both look and taste. Then there are the cereals from famous brands. These are the ones you go to because you know their name and the quality they represent. When looking on the shelf, it is easy to tell them apart from all the rest because of the coloring on the packaging and the logo on the box.
With that in mind, what do you want your business to be known as? Something generic, nothing to set you apart from all the rest? Just another company destined to be overlooked? Or do you want people to be able to recognize you? To keep coming back because you are a trusted name. Hopefully, it’s the latter.
Create your identity
Your brand needs an identity, and as with nearly everything in the world, you need to begin with the name. What is your company called? It should be something catchy and memorable.
Secondly, you need to create a tagline or to give it another name, a slogan. It needs to be one people remember. These are what you see on billboards and television adverts. The short, catchy lines that when you hear them, you instantly know what company they represent. For example, just for fun, can you guess what product these slogans stand for?
A (fill in the blank) helps you work, rest and play.
Once you pop, you just can’t stop.
Have it your way.
I’m Lovin’ it.
Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
Chances are, you guessed the answers quite quickly. If not, Google them to ensure you’re not up all night trying to work them out.
As you can see from the slogans above, not only does the brand come to mind, but also a promise of what they represent using cleverly placed words. It tells the consumer that there is a reason to buy the product. They haven’t written something long-winded, with a full explanation of what the product is about. The slogan is short, catchy and creates a positive feeling in the consumer.
Think about your business and write something short and concise, a slogan that represents what you stand for.
When you have come upon a name and tagline, it is time to move onto the logo. Again, think about the popular companies vying for your business. Consider Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, Nike. Can you picture their logo? The company’s name may not be on the advertisement, but if the logo is, you instantly know what it represents.
Use a logo creator to design something that suits your company. For example, if you sell your own artwork, a small design featuring a paintbrush and easel may be appropriate. When you have come up with the logo, it needs to be placed everywhere. Put it on your website, your business cards, letterheads, and packaging. When people see it, they know it is associated with you. It is a visual representation of your company, setting you apart from those unbranded products that could have come from anywhere.
Notice too how certain colors make you think of a company. Red and white for Coca-Cola, blue and white for Facebook, and a cool white for Apple. These colors are integrated into the logo, product, and website. So consider what colors you might use. Then think of the typography, the font that will be used for the lettering of the product. All these things will be distinctive of your brand.
Communicate your brand
When defining your brand, consider the following questions.
What is your mission statement? Think about the purpose of your company and your promises to the consumer.
Who is your target demographic? Consider such things as age and gender. The language and coloring you use to represent your brand should directly appeal to the people you are trying to reach.
Why should somebody buy your product as opposed to something similar? Sell yourself through the slogan. Tell the consumer why they must have your product in their home.
Your brand identity is more than just a logo and a slogan. It is the total of everything your brand is about. It is something you communicate in everything you do, from phone calls to emails. If you are promoting your product with bright, cheerful colors, but you answer the phone in a tired, grumpy voice, you do not represent what your branding is trying to convey.
You need to promote your brand to the world, where people can see, hear and talk about you. There are many places you can advertise your brand, including street signs, magazine ads, radio and television commercials, e-mails, flyers and across social media.
When you attend meetings, conferences, and public events, give out freebies such as pens, mugs and calendars, all labeled with the logo and colors of your brand.
There is a lot to think about, but with careful planning and marketing skills, you will transform your business. In this ever competitive marketplace, you need to stand out from everybody else. So think hard about the image you are trying to convey and you might find the success you are hoping for.