In the digital age, branding is arguably becoming more important than ever before.
While the internet and mobile digital media open up more possibilities for reaching new audiences than ever before, the channels are crowded with competing companies vying for customers attention.
Standing out is the key to success, and that means creating an identity which draws customers in and keeps them loyal. In the age of inbound marketing, this increasingly involves creating reasons for consumers to find your brand and engage, with interesting, imaginative, relevant content rather than hard selling messages.
Your brand identity influences everything your customers, existing or new, think and feel about your business, crucial factors in the purchasing decisions they make. A digital brand strategy has to create and control how you come across to customers, making sure the right messages are in the right places, and are consistent across the ever expanding choices of digital media available.
Here are the key elements that need to be considered when putting together an effective brand strategy.
This is the starting point for all marketing activity, and creating a brand strategy is no different. Who are your customers, and who do you want them to be in the future? What are their preferences in terms of purchasing habits, communication channels, the tone, style and presentation of communications? What are their expectations about a brand like yours? All of this should be front of mind when formulating a brand strategy to ensure you deliver something that will appeal to your target audiences.
What is it that you want customers to think of your brand? This takes careful consideration, and will be influenced by the products and services you offer, your core target markets and your future aspirations. Much brand positioning is executed through tone - do you want your brand to come across as playful, informal and light hearted, or do you want to create a persona with a little more gravitas? This is often referred to as brand character or personality and will influence the style and content of your branding.
This follows on closely from positioning, and can be viewed as turning the overall aims and goals of your brand into clearly defined statements. These will cover the more obvious sales messages - defining your offer to customers, differentiating yourself from competitors and creating messages around quality and value. But you also need to consider the more subtle and indirect messages which will be conveyed through your digital content. For example, would it work better for your brand to plug products and services directly, or to aim to establish yourself as a thought leader in your market?
Marketers nowadays are quick to say that branding is ‘more than a logo’, a reminder that in the digital age it has increasingly become about content as much as design. But it is a mistake to suggest that the creative and visual side of branding has diminished in importance. People identify with logos, wordmarks and colour schemes much more quickly and intuitively than they ever will with photographs, video or text. They are easy to scan and instantly recognisable, the immediate face of your brand. A strong logo and use of typography, colour palette and other design elements can help knit together different digital platforms, using style to help customers recognise that a web site, social media page or mobile app all belong to the same brand.
Successful digital marketing requires much more than well placed, well conceived advertising campaigns. You need to give audiences a reason to engage with the platforms you create, by providing high quality content relevant and useful to them. The content you provide will go a long way to fixing perceptions about your brand in customers’ minds. Consideration needs to be given not only to the subject matter and tone of the content, and how that fits with your positioning, but also to how the content will be delivered. The choices you make on whether to publish a blog, produce video clips or post images on social media will all affect the overall brand identity you create.