Branding an Online Business

It is easier than ever to start an online business.  There are numerous tools and services designed to simplify the various processes involved, allowing you to set up your operations quickly and effectively.  Consumers are usually comfortable buying products online, as long as you can show your website is safe and secure.  One of the factors that separate the successes from the failures, though, is the ability to brand a business.  If your branding doesn’t resonate with your audience, you have no chance of building a sustainable enterprise.  So how can you go about branding your online business to stand out from the crowd?

Conduct Audience Research

Researching your target audience is a critical step in the process.  Don’t make superficial assumptions about your audience without looking at the current market.  Gather together the main competitors working in the niche you are targeting.  Analyze the positive and negative elements of the most popular brands and how they are performing among the publics of your interest.

Survey consumer’s blogs and social media to gain insights about their thoughts and what they think is missing in the marketplace.  Focus your efforts on a defined segment of the market, avoiding broad research that won’t benefit you.  You can also use an app like BuzzSumo or Mention to conduct social listening campaigns and how your competitors are performing.

Think About the Image You Hope to Convey

After conducting audience research, you should have a clear idea of the marketplace. You may want to create a brand identity that fits in with the general industry concepts that most competitors use, so consumers know what to expect.  You could, however, take a different approach, attempting to stand out with an alternative brand positioning.

Think about your offer and what you hope to convey, such as luxury, value for money, fun, sustainability, happiness, freedom, escape, outstanding service, and more.  If you can honestly demonstrate that your brand has solutions not yet delivered by competing brands, you can then build your brand to meet the ideals in the minds of consumers.

Choose a Name

Brand naming is a challenging and necessary action to take.  Choosing the appropriate name is crucial as it will represent your business from the first encounter.  The challenge is not just creating a unique name aligned with brand positioning, easy to memorize and pronounce in your target markets.

The most significant difficulty is creating a name that is legally registrable, not just as a trademark, but mainly as an internet domain name, especially with the “.com” top-level domain (TLD).  Entrepreneurs will generally start brainstorming with the help of some friends and online tools.  With hundreds of millions of trademarks and domain names already registered worldwide, it is best to have expert advice, including the support of a lawyer to ensure legal ownership of the creation.

Build Your Color Scheme

The color scheme you use will say a lot about your brand. Color influences mood and emotions, so you need to think about what you are conveying.  For example, blue typically signifies trustworthiness and dependability, making it a popular choice for financial institutions and insurance companies.  Green makes people think of nature, with many health-related and eco-friendly enterprises using it.

The tones of each color will also play a factor in how your brand is perceived. Use a color palette tool to find combinations that work, while considering the psychology of your choices.  The excellent work done by graf1x can give you a good idea about the colors and their primary meanings, which will significantly help in the next job of logo creation.

Create a Brand Identity

With a brand positioning statement, a business name, and a color scheme in place, the next step is to design a logo.  A good logo will feel like a natural fit for your brand, generating positive feelings when consumers look at it.  Most examples will feel fresh and modern, though there may be times when you want a classic design that takes people back to a previous era.

Unless you have design experience, it is worthwhile hiring a designer to create an initial mockup.  Test the initial design with multiple people before settling on the final logo.  If your budget allows, I recommend that you hire one or more focus group sessions not only to validate the logo but mostly to test for brand positioning recognition. Groups should include representatives of the markets of interest, as well as employees who will be entrusted with delivering and maintaining brand promises.

Work On Your Brand Positioning

Your brand identity is far more than just a logo and visual impression.  If consumers are going to buy into your business, they need to see different messages that are coherent and engaging.  You can also create a mission statement for your company, aiming to stick to the overall outlook you have when communicating with customers.

It can be exasperating to hear the same message repeatedly, though, so you should have several concepts that resonate with each other.  For example, you could have a robust environmental policy related to your packaging while also being socially conscious and active within your community.

The key is that you stay faithful to the brand positioning you have defined.  Forms of communication can change and keep up with the behavior of your audiences, but that doesn’t mean you have the freedom to stay away from the promises you made and deliver.

Branding is one of the few departments where your online business can stand out.  Most offers will have competing options, with both products and services able to be copied relatively easily. Your branding lets consumers buy into your identity, so they become invested in your success.  Everything from a logo to the design colors will say something about your business, making it vital that you give them full consideration.

When you can build a brand that resonates with people, you can focus on developing a company that flourishes long into the future.

©2020  Roberto Martins, author of The Journey of Branding – Align With the Best Global Brands


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