News

How to build a brand online

27th February 2024

Whatever you call it, online brand building is no new concept. But it’s often overlooked when it comes to digital marketing, which often favours the short-term gain of lead generation or performance marketing campaigns.

Long gone are the days when a strong online presence was a nice-to-have. In today’s digital age, it’s a must. But beyond simply being visible, you also have to put online engagement at the heart of your brand strategy.

Online brand standards are higher than ever. If customers or prospects see that your website, social media, digital content, or messaging is inconsistent, of poor quality, or non-existent, you lose something that will prove nearly impossible to regain – their trust.

So, how can you build a great online brand? It’s simple – you incorporate digital as part of the development process, growing your visibility and reputation online alongside your brand.‍

1. Define your brand identity

Whether you’re starting from scratch or refreshing your identity, you’ll probably want to begin with design and top-level messaging, but it’s important not to look at your brand or online presence in isolation. The two go hand in hand and need to be developed in tandem for maximum impact.

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of undertaking SWOT analysis, consumer research, qualitative and quantitative research, and simply leave it as just that – research. A report for the archives. But by identifying your mission, values, segmented audiences, and USPs, you can root every stage of your brand development in data – ensuring that, as you grow, your brand grows with you.

From an online brand perspective – if you have a website, you can track user behaviour and align it with your research, allowing you to gather information not only about your customers’ perception of your brand, but their interactions too. Don’t miss the opportunity to use what you’ve learned from your online presence to shape the direction of your brand.

Data will give you a strong sense of the way your brand is perceived, what your customers expect, and what they want from your business moving forward. Armed with this information, you can change their minds, engage them better, and grow your brand.

2. Refresh and optimise your website

Your website is an integral part of your brand.

It’s often at the heart of the customer journey – it’s where customers buy from you, how they contact you, where they find out about you, and often, where they make their first impressions after a quick search of your company name.

“…if customers or prospects see that your website, social media, digital content, or messaging is inconsistent, of poor quality, or non-existent, you lose something that will prove nearly impossible to regain – their trust…”

So why wouldn’t your website be at the core of your branding? It’s critical to the reputation of your business that your website is easy to navigate, visually appealing, a clear representation of your identity, and helps customers reach the next step in their journey – building trust with every interaction.

Accessibility should also play a big role in your online brand strategy. Does your website work with screen readers? Are fonts clear, high-contrast and easy to read? All of this plays a role in garnering, and building, trust between brand and consumer.

3. Follow UI and UX best practices

When it comes to building a brand online, you want to make sure your business is synonymous with great design, as well as streamlined and efficient customer experience. So user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) best practices become a really important part of the conversation between brand and consumer.

While trends are popular, it’s best practice that lasts. So here are some key principles to remember.

  • While ensuring your brand is consistent across your website, keep your site design simple. Plenty of white space and visual cues will improve readability and navigation across your site.
  • Use on-the-money UX copy and clear calls to action to define clear, human-centric user journeys that convert and retain visitors.
  • Make sure everyone can use your site by using responsive design, as well as following accessibility and inclusivity guidelines.

4. Leverage social media and a content strategy

Social media is where you can start to build out the personality of your brand. Encouraging customers to engage with your brand in a more direct, organic way is a fantastic opportunity to further your reputation and recognition.

“…data will give you a strong sense of the way your brand is perceived, what your customers expect, and what they want from your business moving forward…”

Different platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn will demand different approaches to content – and you can experiment to find the right way to engage your audience across each channel. But the mission, vision, and values established as part of your brand identity should always remain consistent if you want to build trust.

5. Research, monitor and optimise accordingly

One misconception about branding is that it’s a one-and-done activity. But even the world’s most established, well-known brands update and refresh their identity regularly, and they’ll use always-on brand marketing to hold their market share and monitor engagement.

“…when it comes to building a brand online, you want to make sure your business is synonymous with great design, as well as streamlined and efficient customer experience…”

Equally, your online brand must evolve with the expectations, demands and behaviours of your customers. You want to gauge how your brand is performing, but also keep an eye on competitors to make sure you stay relevant and on-trend.

The benefits of developing a brand online

While the steps above detail how to build your brand online, the question remains: why should you put time and effort into it?

We know how tempting it is to spend your entire marketing budget on lead gen, but there are serious gains to be won for those brave enough to invest in always-on digital brand campaigns.

Visibility and credibility

Your online brand is an opportunity for visibility and credibility. Through pairing your online brand with the right SEO, content, and marketing campaigns, you have a prime opportunity to significantly increase the visibility of your brand – in the same breath however, your visibility can be damaging if you haven’t invested in a credible online brand.

“…it’s critical to the reputation of your business that your website is easy to navigate, visually appealing, a clear representation of your identity, and helps customers reach the next step in their journey – building trust with every interaction…”

Engagement and loyalty

Your brand and marketing must work hand in hand to be truly successful.

Not only are customers more digitally engaged than ever, they’re also more sceptical than ever. As consumers, we’re flooded with newsletters, purchase alerts, email campaigns, and social media posts – how many of these do we actually take in?

If you’re not taking the time to understand what your audience engages with, and investing in branded content that matters to them, you can quickly fade into obscurity.

Developing an online brand that resonates with your customers can not only garner engagement, but loyalty too. If they know the messages you’re sending are of value to them, they’ll be more likely to pay attention the next time a sponsored post appears on their feed.

“…your online brand must evolve with the expectations, demands and behaviours of your customers…”

And engagement doesn’t just mean keeping up with competitors by producing like-for-like content. It means finding new ways to connect, stand out and speak to the emerging pain points or demands of your audience.

Sales and revenue

Brand is often seen as an immeasurable investment. At the end of the day, how do you measure how effective your new colour palette, logo, or typography has been?

You’ve invested your money, and you want to prove ROI, which is exactly where an online brand is critical.

Your digital ecosystem is entirely measurable. You can test your pre- and post-launch brand performance, as well as continuing to optimise and gather insights.

“…keep an eye on competitors to make sure you stay relevant and on-trend…”

Furthermore, you can compare against your sector and competitors. Your online brand is not only a snapshot of performance, but it can also help build a picture of where you stand in the market.

This information can help inform wider business decisions, by providing insights on which products or services are performing well, which processes needs reviewing or streamlining, and where you should invest your marketing budget moving forward.

So whether you want to grow your brand or boost your bottom line, building a robust online brand is a must for businesses of all sizes.

Whether you need advice or support with positioning, visual identity, a digital refresh, or all of the above, we’re here to help. Get in touch and book a free consultation today.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)117 923 2282

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About Proctor + Stevenson

Game-changing strategy, creative and technology that means more impact for your marketing. And more power to your business.

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