Becoming an online marketer means you have the added weight of trying to connect with your target audience in an often sterile, faceless, nameless environment.
Many consumers are used to dealing with nothing more than a domain name and product image online, but if you go the extra mile to build a brand to connect with your client/customer, you’ll be able to dominate your chosen niche.
There are basically 7 elements you can incorporate into your brand building strategy. Let’s go over them, you can analyse your own efforts as you go along to see if you’re doing things right, and tweak where necessary to step up your brand.
A Snazzy Name
When you’re working online, you walk a fine line between developing a catchy name and one that’s easy to find and that is recognisable. By recognisable, we mean a name that the reader can instantly tell what your business is about.
For example, look at the comparison of these made-up domain and business names and see which one you feel is a better option for online marketing:
*yelpwhisperer.com versus stopdogbarking.com – First of all, who uses the word ‘yelp’ anymore? Secondly, dog barking is a more common phrase than yelping, so your search traffic volume might be a bit higher. At the very least, people won’t have to wonder what the site is about.
*snuffoutbadsmoke.com versus secondhandsmokedanger.com – The first name is vague and odd. Snuffing can mean, extinguish a cigarette, but the whole domain name is confusing at first glance. The second one is to the point and obvious to the consumer.
Does this mean you can’t have a catchy, non-obvious name? Of course you can. But if you decide to go that route, and choose something where it’s not obvious, then you need to be prepared to increase your branding even more so that people are able to associate the name.
Ideally, you’re want your domain name to be the same as your business name – so keep it as short as possible. The more opportunities for mistakes that there are, the higher the chance someone making a typo and not getting to your site.
Your name doesn’t always have to be a company name, either. You can use your personal name and brand that if you want to. Many marketers do that online – and it works fine. For instance, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz.
Those are all brands – but they’re built around a person’s name. And though you may not have your own TV show, or aren’t putting on global seminars, doesn’t mean you can’t brand your name, too.
A Well-Branded Design
Your online design will say a lot about who you are as a company and a brand. Let’s take the IM niche as an example first. You can land on two blogs – one has ads crammed into every space on the blog.
You have sidebar ads, ads under the header, pop-up and exit ads, text hyperlink ads, and more. Your whole experience is spent dodging pop-ups and being blinded by flashing banners.
The other blog is clean with content being the main focal point. There might be a little bit of advertising going on, but they don’t draw attention away from the content – they simply supplement it.
The design and layout of your online site tells a lot about your intentions. Blog number one is out to make money by pushing whatever they can on you. Blog number two is there to serve and make money, of course, but it’s not distracting.
You want your design to be obviously related to the niche, just like you’ve done with your brand name and domain. If it’s in the diet niche, for example, then you might incorporate the following into your design:
- Fresh, clean colors – inviting, inspiring, and motivational
- Colourful fruits and vegetables
- A before and after image to demonstrate successful weight loss
- Images of happy, smiling, healthy, trim and fit individuals
You can have something created specifically for you by hiring a good graphics designer. S/he can design-wise online matches, so that you’re branding across the board. That includes:
- Your blog theme
- Your squeeze page
- Your social medium covers
Think about how you want your brand to come across. Do you want it to be fun, or serious and professional? Your design and graphics should reflect your choice.
A tagline is your motto of sorts. It’s what you want to be known for. It’s typically worked into your publishing platform blog profile so that search engines pick it up, but it also can be integrated into your graphic design.
For example, your header image on your blog can include your tagline, as can your Twitter profile’s background or your Facebook cover image.
What Should Your Tagline Convey?
It should be a reflection of your values – of what your services, or, products will provide to the customer. It’s how you act and how they should perceive you.
Here are some examples of taglines:
- Think Outside the Bun – Taco Bell – This tagline urges people to try something different. They’re saying they’re unique, better and more qualified.
- Just Do It – Nike – No excuses. This company is all about serious athletes, not part-time procrastinators.
- Because I’m Worth It – L’Oreal – Gives off an air of upscale indulgence, even though it’s an over-the-counter product.
Think of a tagline – the shorter the better – that you can use everywhere online to help brand your business with the right mindset. Its okay if you don’t cater to everyone – in fact, it’s better to weed out your non-audience.
You want to attract the right people to your brand. If you’re humourous, you want people who appreciate that – not people who will constantly complain about that to everyone online.
What Will Your Voice Say About Your Brand?
Your voice will say a lot to the online public about what your brand is all about. You’ll be creating conversational content – not sterile, essay papers.
Will you be argumentative? Call people or competitors out? Or, will you be gentle and motivational? Maybe a mix of the two. Figure out how you want to be heard online.
This may mean you have to tone down your personality. For example, if you’re usually curt, online it may come across rude, and you don’t want that. Or, you might have to ramp up your personality a bit if you’re typically shy and conservative.
Secure Your Brand With Heavy Socialisation
If you don’t brand yourself online, someone else will brand you. You never, ever want to leave that up to chance, because people are actually more likely to speak up when they have a negative experience than when they have a positive one.
- There are at least six areas where you have to socialise your brand online. Let’s start with your blog. It’s up to you to engage in conversations with your blog readers. Ask them to leave comments and then respond to each one.
- Secure some guest blogging opportunities, where you go out in front of another blogger’s audience and build a relationship and brand yourself in front of them. Again, carry on conversations with them in the comments section.
- In your niche forums you can also brand yourself. First, do it by posting and commenting with valuable, helpful commentary. Don’t post a lot of ‘me’ posts to get your post count up.Make sure you use a signature file with your site links and your tagline, so people instantly know how you tend to perceive your business and how they should, as well.
- Get a Twitter account for branding purposes. Twitter allows you to brand in several ways – with your 140-character Tweets, you can share your voice and message – but also with your background image and header profile graphic on your Twitter page.
- Create a Facebook group, too. Facebook can send you a ton of traffic – and you get to interact directly with your audience and let them share your branding message with their own contacts.
- YouTube is also excellent for branding purposes – or any video platform for that matter, but YouTube is the most popular one at the moment. You can get on camera (or at the very least use screen capture and record your computer screen while you talk). Sometimes, hearing your voice and seeing your mannerisms can say a lot about your branding – things that plain text on a computer screen just can’t convey. It works both ways however, if you’re monotone and boring, it can damage your brand, so make sure you practice.
- Google Plus is another great tool that has risen in popularity. They’ve built a platform perfect for branding. You can use posts like Facebook, but you can also do live hangouts with your prospects and customers and let them interact with you in a live video setting.
Branding Through Email Marketing
Email marketing is a tool that your customers allow you to use to brand yourself. They’ve given you permission to access their lives on a regular basis, rather than you having to wait for them to contact you.
You want to stay top of mind often enough that they don’t forget you, but not several times a day where you become annoying. Email them whenever you have something worthwhile to share.
It helps if you position yourself as a marketer who is always on the cutting edge of your niche. It’s very easy to do – just keep an ear to the ground and know what’s coming out about your topic.
Sign up for Google Alerts for keywords in your niche. Check on Google daily to see what the buzz is. Type in your niche, such as “anti-aging” and then click on the News category and maybe the blog category, too – to see what’s trending that day.
You can then use a news story or other blog as curated content (where you take a snippet, link back to the original article, and add your own commentary about it).
Branding campaigns are on-going efforts – not something you’ll set up once and walk away. You want to evolve and remain aware of where your target audience can be found.
© Cherry-Ann Carew
Cherry-Ann Carew, Internet Marketer, Coach, and Award Finalist & Multi-bestselling Author of fiction and non-fiction, helps business owners and solo/entrepreneurs scale their income revenue via recommended products, services, on and off-line events, training and workshops. Learn more at www.cherryanncarew.com
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net