Branding has always been one of the key aspects of marketing a business. In the highly visual and intangible world of Internet marketing, branding becomes even more important.What Branding Is
A brand is any form of identification that differentiates your company from its competitors, or represents your company in the eyes and minds of consumers. Consider where the term originated: literal brands were (and still are) used to identify cattle as belonging to a particular ranch. Branding took what was an indistinguishable commodity and gave it a distinctive mark. It associated a ranch's products with a unique, registered symbol, and allowed each ranch to develop a business identity and reputation.
Websites may seem to be a world apart from cattle, but online branding still accomplishes the same thing. There are many billions of web pages out there, and without any branding they would all appear quite similar at first glance. Branding gives people a name, a look and an overall feel to remember you by.
What Branding Does
Branding provides value for both you and your customers. A distinctive brand aids in:
- Recognition. It allows people to instantly recognize your company and its products.
- Reputation. Once a customer has gained a certain level of experience with your brand, they know what they can expect from your company.
- Loyalty. Brand reputation eases the decision-making process and reduces the risk of choosing to buy from your company. This is true even if it they have no experience with the particular product or store location; they know the overall quality and service to expect. This risk-free decision making is what brand loyalty is all about, and greatly increases customer lifetime value.
- Referrals. Loyal customers recommend their favorite brands to their friends.
- Awareness. When someone needs a new product or service, they can only consider buying from the companies they know about. Though they might search online for "widgets," they are just as likely to search for the specific companies that they know produce widgets. Branding gets your name out there and makes it easier to remember during those buying times.
Branding requires patience, even in the fast-moving online world. It takes time to gain recognition and earn a reputation. Branding could be considered a marketing start-up cost: it takes work to develop the right look and feel for your online marketing, but once it is developed, the brand makes all future marketing efforts easier and more effective.
When developing a brand, make sure you consider all of the potential elements that can go into it and help strengthen your brand identity. Branding elements include:
- Your name. It helps to have a distinctive, and simple, company name.
- A tagline or motto. This is usually included along with a simple name to give more description or detail.
- A logo. This is a must for online marketing. Like the symbols used as cattle brands, a logo is the identifying element you put on everything.
- Page design. A logo is your online signage; the design of your web pages is your online storefront. Besides being attractive, you want the page design to be consistent and therefore recognizable.
- Personality. The way you present yourself online through web content and design elements conveys your brand's personality. As with in personal relationships, the personality of your company has a big influence on how well people like your brand.
Online branding is an investment. But, it is one that can pay back dividends over the entire life of your company.
*Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net