Creating a brand online is arguably more important than the offline world, because of the following reasons:
• Difficult for customers to observe product before purchasing
• Hard to determine the credibility of an online retailer
• Security is an issue and an established brand can allay customer fears
• More difficult to build relationships than the offline world
• Customers are fickle on the web and often follow discounts
• Price rules on the web
So, with an established brand, creating trust and loyalty is much easier and it all starts with an online branding strategy.
1. Position your brand
Positioning your brand is about occupying a position in the mind of your prospects that differentiates it from competitor brands. This is one of the difficult things about creating a successful brand whether that’s online or offline. There are many competitors out there vying for the same customers that your business is targeting, so to reach them, grab their attention and create an online value proposition that is unique is of paramount importance when you introduce your brand to the market.
2. Create a consistent brand identity
Your brand identity is a collection of all the physical and emotional attributes of your brand. These include your name, logo, colours, tagline, images, sounds and smell that your target audience can feel, touch, sense, hear, smell and see. Depending on the nature of your business, some of these will be more important than others, for example a perfume manufacturer will have smell as a primary brand identity element. Together these brand elements combine to create a compelling offer that is irresistible and unforgettable with your target audience and hopefully leads to brand preference at the time of purchase.
3. Pick a winning name
A name is the most important feature of the brand identities of most brands. It’s one of the easiest things that people will recall about your brand and here are some guidelines to construct yours:
• It should be unique
• Easy to remember
• Should be short
• Easy to pronounce
4. Register your brand
You can register your brand name and brand mark with the trademark registration organisation International Property Organisation (IPO) to give you exclusive ownership to its use and enforce anyone who uses it without your permission. It also helps to ensure that you don’t suffer litigation from anyone who claims to own it.
5. Secure domain names
As you research your brand, you should also check that domain names are available to register or have the financial resources to buy them from current owners. The two main top level domain names are .com and .co.uk for UK brands or the equivalent in your country and move quickly to register these as you wait for the acceptance of your trademark registration. Also register other domains like .net, .biz and .org to ensure that your competitors don’t try to steal some of your traffic. It may also be worth registering close variant domain names to protect your name and not lose traffic to other sites when people misspell your name.
6. Promote your online value proposition (OVP)
Use every opportunity to promote your OVP that includes all the benefits that your target markets need or want. Your OVP is a combination of your unique selling proposition that differentiates your brand from competitor brands and the benefits that are of importance to your customers and are also your strengths. With a strong OVP, your business will be more profitable and you will stand out from competitors and this will lead to greater market share.
7. Create brand rules
Your brand rules state how your brand identity will be used by your organisation, staff, partners and other stakeholders for advertising, in communications and wherever prospects come in touch with your brand on the web. This is especially important if you work with designers, freelancers and agencies and you can create a document stating how your logo and other brand identities are to be used in all communications.
Building an online brand takes time and patience and there are many tools that can help you make that happen. It also requires a promotional strategy that is targeted and unique and you can learn more about this in my next online branding article. Get in touch to discuss how I can help you build your online brand.