The term “Branding” has been a business buzzword for many years. But many business owners fail to understand the core concept of the term beyond corporate logos, presentation & marketing jingles. Effective branding is all about letting your customers know who you are, what you can do and how you do it. Due to the recent economic downturn, more customers are spending time and money on-line than ever before. That’s one of the primary reasons why it’s very important for every small business and entrepreneurs to use the social web to make an impact.
Here are some simple steps that can help you to build your corporate brand online:
1. Always define your brand upfront. When visitors first come to your website let them know immediately what your business does and why they should care. Far too many web sites these days display flashy graphics and ambiguous slogans without telling their visitors what the company or person actually does. So always view your site through the eyes of a new visitor. Does it spell out exactly what your brand stands for? If not, redesign your site to fit that very purpose.
2. On some cases making your company name the most visible element of your website may not be the most effective way to reinforce your brand. For instance, ask yourself which of these gives you a clearer identity of a business: The business name “Cat Central” displayed in large letters or the more specific description “Training tips for new cat owners”?
3. Make sure all the visual elements that are present on your website really reinforce your identity. While words are important, the look of your web site must also support your brand image. For instance, is your brand best served by hard edges or softer, rounded edges? Do the primary colors on your website capture your personality or would earth tones be a better match? Find the design scheme that best compliments your brand and business and use it consistently throughout your website.
4. Try to establish a fan-club feeling throughout your website. Most online marketers try to generate readers, visitors or users. However in this web 2.0 generation, it is absolutely essential to switch gears and create fans instead of just users. “Users” are people who visit your web site, subscribe to your newsletter or buy your products and services. “Fans,” on the other hand, cheer you on, rave about you to their friends, and eagerly follow everything you do. So ask yourself, which audience would you rather have?
5. Use the right words at the right time. Verbal content is not only king, it’s often the entire kingdom. Designers always try to squeeze in as much graphics as they can on a website, but what matters most online are the words that you use. In order to create fans online, your brand must deliver useful information and speak to your audience in a conversational tone.
6. A lot of people still use the web only for email purpose. So make sure that your business publishes an e-mail newsletter. Offering a free e-mail newsletter allows you to build a database of subscribers who are specifically interested in what your business has to offer. Best yet, being able to deliver a personalized message to your audience by e-mail puts you in control of the frequency with which your audience is exposed to your brand.
7. Become a one-stop destination of the niche that your business operates in. Let’s say your company sells golf gears and equipments. You might simply post an online catalog and a few profiles of your products. However, a far better way of handing this would be to set up your site as a clearing house for all things golf related — articles on the history of golf, personal stories from different golf players who have purchased golf gears from your store, product reviews of different golf equipments, photo galleries and golf forum, etc. Your online presence should establish you as the primary resource in your field.
The web is still a gold mine of opportunity, especially for those who use it to create strong corporate identity. Use these tips to create your own indelible image online.