If is somewhat possible to succeed online without a brand but doing this is going to be a lot harder and you will seriously be limiting your potential for growth and for profit.
Let’s assume for a moment that your business model is predominantly online – let’s say that you are selling digital products or affiliate products through a brand. Now in this case, your key objective is going to be to grow the amount of traffic visiting your site and to then establish trust with that audience such that they will be interested in buying what you have to sell.
This will be nigh impossible to accomplish however if you haven’t first built a brand and layered it into your site and your content.
This is how it works:
- Someone finds one of your articles through social media or a Google search, enjoys it and then moves on to other things – no one becomes an ‘overnight fan’
- During another search or through another post they then find themselves coming across another post or two of yours
- They read this, enjoy it and remember that they enjoyed the last thing you wrote about too
- They then come across you a couple more times and are impressed each time
- They now consider you a reliable/entertaining resource.
- The next time they’re looking for content in your niche, they will search for their question and your URL
- Perhaps they’ll take some time to look around the other content on your site
- They may even then bookmark your site or subscribe to your RSS feed
- Likewise they may subscribe to you on social media and/or add their e-mail to your list
- They will then consider buying your e-books/recommended products when they see you recommend them
- If they enjoy the product, they will be much more likely to buy from you again in future.
After this lengthy process, you’ve now turned a first time visitor into a paying customer.
But note how much more difficult this would be without a strong and consistent branding. Without a catchy site name and logo, how would they know that they were reading your website again the second time they found it?
Likewise, without a clear sense of identity and a clear mission statement, why would they consider subscribing?
And if your social media channel is just your personal name with no branding, are they really going to want to follow you?
The same goes for other business models too. Let’s say you’re manufacturing a product. Having a brand will allow you to market the product and generate buzz for it more effectively but more importantly it will enable you to build on your success. Once you’ve built a strong brand and people have enjoyed products from you, they will then know to seek out more products from you in future because they’ll expect that they’ll be similarly high quality.
Why were people so excited about the Apple Watch recently? It wasn’t because it was a smartwatch – there are already hundreds of those on the market.
No, people were excited about the Apple Watch because it was another Apple product and Apple now has a reputation for making game-changing technology with fantastic quality construction and elegant interfaces. In other words, it was the brand that sold the Apple Watch moreso than the product.
Having a strong brand also makes it much easier for you to market your products and services, creating new opportunities to make people think about your business. At the same time, your brand will also help you to inspire more emotion from your users and customers. With a brand, you’ll feel that people will get behind what you’re doing and become fans of your products and services. Without a brand, you won’t be able to get that kind of loyalty or interest surrounding what you do.
What is Brand?
So great, we’ve come to the conclusion that we definitely need a brand. Brands are definitely good things. So the next question is: what exactly is a brand?
On the face of it and according to Wikipedia, a brand is a ‘name, term, design or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others’.
Of course though it’s actually much more than that, a brand can also be what distinguishes products from one another. It’s also certainly more than just the logo and name – your brand is also encompassed by your mission statement, by your general quality and by the similarities between your products or services.
The idea of a brand is to represent yourself with a name, a logo and a set of design sensibilities and for your customers and clients to then know that those things stand for a certain standard of quality and an approach to business.
Of course the word ‘brand’ itself comes from the way that farmers would once burn their symbols into livestock so that they were identifiably theirs. Your brand should make everything you create and do ‘identifiably yours’ so that you can build a consistent reputation.
What Aspects Make a Brand?
We can also get a better idea for what a brand is by looking at the multiple different aspects that combine to create said brand.
In this book we’re mainly focusing on how to create a brand online, so we’ll look predominantly at some of the aspects that make a brand on the web in particular.
Aspects of a brand then include:
- Your logo
- Your color scheme (which will likely be dictated by your logo)
- Your website and web design (again, dictated by your logo most likely, as well as your industry/niche)
- Your advertising (which will feature your logo)
- A jingle (potentially, though not necessarily)
- A ‘tagline’ (optional)
- A mascot (definitely optional)
- Your products (which should have a consistent design language that makes them look similar)
- Your services (which should have a predictability that makes them reliable and consistent)
- Your content (if you are using content marketing)
- Your social media accounts
- Your ‘mission statement’ (the end goal of your business)
- Your values
- Your pervasive style
- Your attitude
As you can see then, a brand is actually many things and certainly not just a matter of creating a fancy logo. Your mission statement and values are particularly important to consider and will inform everything else you do. Ultimately, it will be your values that result in products that are a certain standard and this is what will make your customers want to deal with your business again.
It is getting longer so in another article, we’ll be looking at how you can tackle each of these points to develop your brand and from there we’ll then focusing on building it up and growing your visibility.