Apple and Tesla are two brands that provide more expensive products than most of their competitors. Incidentally, both leave pricing out of their branding and focus on the value their products have to offer. No matter where you see these brands, the message they deliver and the feeling they convey remain consistent. That, in essence, is the crux of successful branding.
Moving from print ads to radio commercials to adverts on the TV, businesses now have to account for the continuously growing online marketplace. Once you get your digital branding right, you may expect a boost in your business’ online growth.
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What is Digital Branding?
In its most basic form, digital branding facilitates online communication between a business and its target audience. This can be by providing a great user experience through your website or by offering quick and efficient customer service. If a brand is not easy to find in today’s online world, it’s safe to say that it probably doesn’t exist in the minds of many contemporary consumers.
Much like branding in the days before the internet, digital branding involves telling your target audience what your business does, what its values are, what it believes in, why it should choose you, and what it may expect from you. While branding refers to the process of creating memorable brands, a brand refers to how your target audience perceives your business. A brand identity, on the other hand, consists of multiple elements such as the logo, website, and social media accounts that help deliver your message.
Digital branding aims to increase online exposure and build online engagement through other ways as well. These include, but do not limit to, digital advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), guest blogging, online reviews, and webinars.
Digital Branding Vs. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing typically involves attracting attention toward a particular product or service. Digital branding, on the other hand, focuses more on highlighting the values that a business brings to the table. Digital branding usually follows a more long-term approach than digital marketing and is typically not dependant on whether or not you continue to offer a particular product or a service.
The brand you end up creating is what stays in the mind of your target audience when it interacts with your brand, and should ideally come with a strong recall value. While digital marketing works well to achieve short-term results, you may expect to build long-lasting relationships with your customers if you get your branding right. Simply put, there is more to branding than relying on digital marketing strategies to increase brand awareness.
The Benefits of Digital Branding
If you follow a good branding strategy, you may expect to see positive results. After all, the reason that businesses of all sizes are turning to branding is not just to expand their existing customer base but also to retain existing customers. It is now common for businesses to carry out extensive research surrounding the needs of their target audiences so they may fulfill them accordingly, and thereby build trust and confidence. The benefits of digital branding include:
- Multichannel approach. Digital branding gives you the ability to follow a multichannel approach. Typical online tools from which you get to choose include websites, blogs, social networking platforms, emails, online ads, and online forums. While you get to deliver the same message across multiple channels, you also get the ability to deliver customized messages.
- Competitive differentiation. Effective digital branding lets you highlight how your brand is different from its competition. This is based on what your target audience values, be it pricing, functionality, customer service, or your overall brand. Once you manage to convince your target audience about what sets your brand apart from its competitors, recognition follows.
- Building connections. When you rely on a good digital marketing strategy, you can get your existing and probable customers to feel that you’re interacting with them directly. This is because you get to engage with them on platforms that they typically use to communicate with their family and friends. Besides, by offering personalized, meaningful, and useful messages, you get to convert customers into brand ambassadors.
- The time factor. With your digital branding efforts in place, you can give your customers the ability to interact with your business in real-time. This enables you to address customer concerns quickly and create positive customer experiences. If any of your online campaigns manage to go viral, you may expect the kind of rapid exposure that money typically cannot buy.
Elements of Digital Branding
Digital branding is wide-ranging and involves the use of multiple elements. Irrespective of the digital branding agency you choose to work with, you’ll notice that it relies on different factors to produce desired results. These include:
- Logo. A logo relates to a brand’s identity. In the digital world, this is a pictorial representation of your brand. Among other differences between a logo and a brand, the main aim of a logo is to be recognized easily, and not to convey a message.
- Impact. Creating an impact is an important part of digital branding and relates directly to the image of your brand. Adding video testimonials and embedding reviews on your website help achieve this aim, as can maintaining goodwill across different social media platforms.
- Online channels. Using different online channels helps with brand positioning. However, this requires identifying your target audience first and then determining what brand image you want to portray.
- Website and social media. Your website and social media accounts help establish your brand’s personality by implementing different digital branding ideas. This practice should remain consistent across all channels.
- Content. From the digital branding standpoint, this refers to how your brand communicates with its target audience and how it differentiates itself from competitors. It requires addressing how you approach your target audience, finding out about its interests, offering solutions for its problems, receiving feedback about your product’s services, and ending conversations effectively.
- Brand extension. If you’ve managed to establish yourself as an expert or a market leader in any niche, you may think about taking advantage of your brand equity and extending your brand by launching new products/services. For example, Coca-Cola has come a long way since it started selling just one beverage.
- Analysis. Analyzing if your digital branding efforts are producing desired results is crucial. For instance, have you optimized your customer’s journey in the best possible manner? While you need to invest in digital branding, you also need to understand what customers feel about their experiences so you may tweak your strategy accordingly.
Formulating a Digital Branding Strategy
Businesses need to look at their offline and online branding efforts in a unified manner. However, they still need to find two completely different ways to tell their stories and communicate with their target audiences. Businesses that have under-utilized or neglected what digital branding has to offer so far now need to step up their digital branding efforts if they hope to make inroads in the online world. A good digital branding strategy involves paying attention to multiple aspects.
- Identifying business goals. Coming up with a digital branding strategy requires direction, and this comes from identifying your business goals. These could come in the form of increasing awareness, attracting new customers, or differentiating your brand from its competitors. For instance, if your aim is to attract new customers, your strategy should include monitoring how many leads convert into paying customers.
- Target audience research. Your digital branding efforts will not produce desired results if you don’t define your target audience first. If required, segment it into groups. Create user personas, explore their lifestyles, and identify their needs vis-à-vis your business. Draw from these when you need to make decisions about your digital branding strategy. Identify buyer behavior and determine which online platforms they favor using the most.
- Competitor analysis. It’s important to look at what the top players in your field are doing, as this helps you narrow down on what your brand does differently, and perhaps, better. While your brand might not be the only one that provides the products or services in question, it has its own unique team members, skill sets, and processes. What you need to do is identify what distinguishes your brand from its competitors.
- Brand voice. You need to use a consistent voice in communicating your message across different channels, so your target audience perceives it in the same way, no matter which platforms they use. Since your brand’s voice plays an important role in how your business is perceived, you have to ensure that you’re creating the desired impression by paying close attention to how it’s developed.
- Brand positioning and brand identity. Effective brand positioning requires synchronicity between your digital and offline branding efforts because mixed messaging is prone to lead to confusion. Your brand’s identity needs to remain consistent across platforms too. For instance, does your brand’s online presence invoke the same feelings that its offline presence does? Remember that brand identity extends beyond the use of visual elements. It also relies on how effective your content strategy is as well as the overall style and voice of your brand.
- Identifying assets. Good digital branding strategies take into account what brands already possess. These include, but do not limit to, team members, technology, services, products, features, and media. Once you identify what you have, determine what you no longer need and narrow down on just what will work after accounting for the needs of your target audience.
- Brand building. Digital brand building brings with its efficacy and scalability. The online world makes it simpler and more cost-effective to increase a brand’s visibility as compared to traditional offline mediums. For instance, consider the cost and effectiveness of networking by attending live events or via social media, or of hosting an in-person seminar versus a webinar. Determining who your target audience is gives you the ability to identify which digital channels to use.
- Mapping. An important aspect of any good strategy is mapping every piece of content, service, or feature back or a particular segment or customer. This helps provide the right solution at the required time during a customer’s journey. While brands have the capability to choreograph such journeys, from a customer’s perspective, it might seem like a matter of chance. Just where in the journey your target audience gets to interact with your brand the most can have an effect on your marketing strategy. For instance, if you find out that your target audience spends considerable time on Instagram, you might benefit by directing your social media marketing efforts toward this platform.
- Analytics. Monitoring the effect of your digital branding efforts is easier than monitoring the impact of traditional methods. A number of online tools simplify this aspect considerably by providing in-built analytics. For instance, tracking the behavior of visitors to your website is fairly straightforward, provided you know how to go about the process – and this is also the case with social media engagement. Tracking, analyzing, and making required adjustments are bound to improve effectiveness. Besides, since it’s easier to monitor and control digital branding, making improvements follows suit.
Effective digital branding can definitely help boost a brand’s online growth. However, achieving desired results requires research as well as an understanding of how to go about the process. No matter which digital branding strategy you employ, you need to start by knowing more about your target audience, identifying the value your brand provides, and recognizing any possible brand barriers, while laying due emphasis on creating your brand’s identity.
Bear in mind that consumers now look beyond the products and services they use, and their outlook toward brands involves feelings, memories, expectations, and more. When done right, digital branding has the potential to deliver great results, which is why it’s typically best left to the experts. If you wish to know more about how your business might benefit by taking this path, consider discussing it with someone from a reputable digital branding agency.