Feeding the Brand Online
There is much to read and learn on the subject of branding so the goal of this article is simply to lay out some of the successful online marketing actions.
Here’s a rapid-fire list of points that I keep in mind when working on a website:
- Content creation: Keeping the brand in mind when creating content is essential. I recommend not reverting to a generic voice but instead aim at infiltrating the brand as deep as is necessary throughout your content.
- Branding is more than just a logo. It’s your voice, your mission. Keep your message, content and imagery in synch with that voice.
- “I have several websites” situation: If a customer has several websites for his company, I usually recommend working on the one that will have the most “brand” potential. Sometimes generic websites such as organicfood.com or drugstore.com could work but I usually vote for something like joesorganic.com or bluestore.com. For one, it’s easier to track when measuring popularity and brand awareness. And two, it’s more personal and it stands out. The era of having 5 websites for the exact same company and trying to get all of these to position in the search engines is pretty much over. Some are still doing it with positive results but I usually recommend working your main brand website and making it as good as you want it to be.
- Fast brand perception: The perception of the brand through a website occurs really quickly. So it’s important that you have a good idea on who is your main audience and what your business is all about. I recently did a competitive analysis for a dentist. Some top competitors displayed a shinny very glossy and beyond professional image while others showed a more friendly, familial image. So again, the importance is knowing your goals and what type of clientele you want have.
- Emulating top industry giants is fine as long as you position yourself differently. That is crucial online. It has to be done in a way that this mental positioning can be perceived practically instantly. Again, we only have a few seconds to get that across.
- Royalty Retention: Customers or potential customers will come back to your site if they bond with you in some ways. The reason(s) why they came back should be discovered and maintained. It should then be used throughout the web from social media to videos and any other content.
- Word-of-Mouth: How long are you in this for? It’s hard to build word-of-mouth if one is in it solely for the quick buck. Pushing the immediate sale is vital but I always recommend not violating the basic integrity of the brand while doing so. That is how long-term relationships will develop.
- Effective branding is often achieved by keeping it simple.
- Lowering the price of products/services is the last recourse when wanting to increase the sales. Focus on improving the brand and the message first.
- Paid traffic: Investing in the brand usually helps to increase the conversion rate from your paid traffic. So it’s a positive all around.
There’s of course much more to keep in mind but these above are some of the basic concepts for online marketing.
Branding Online: Becoming an Authority Despite the Industry Giants
How do you beat the top competitors in your industry? My answer often goes like this: niche. I can’t say that this is what you need to do but I’ve discovered that if I focused on a niche for a year or two, I would start gaining more ground faster.
You can have a big website of 500 pages (which I recommend having) but still not being found as much as you would want to. In such a case I often fall back on the “niche” strategy. This shouldn’t be interpreted as “drop everything else”. Analyses, goals and understanding of the industry will help in deciding what that niche should be.
Niching is not the only way to beat the giants and shouldn’t be assumed as the default recourse. Using the correct branding and marketing tools such as surveys plus knowing the nooks and crannies of the web to find your clientele are other ways to beat the giant names.
For smaller companies wanting to take on a bigger share of the online market, I really recommend doing the needed research on positioning.
Branding = Maximizing efforts, Saving Time and Energy
To conclude, I’d like to voice that I’m brand believer. The web is becoming more “intelligent” every year and I predict brands will continue to have an advantage. For example, looking at the evolution of Google confirms that brands are getting more support. In the last decade Google has made several updates clearly showing that they want to get rid of the generic-junk-content websites and favoring legit brands to a new level. But beyond Google and Facebook, isn’t there some kind of pride in creating a brand that we sincerely love? Brands often inspire audiences. Inspire the web instead of copying it. Market with branding in mind and maximize your online efforts.
Next month: Paid Versus Organic: What is best for my business?