The web is a big place. In order for your business to have a voice and stand-out from the rest, you need to brand it effectively online. Ultimately, the responsibility for a brand’s web presence is the business owner’s, whether or not you employ a marketing agency.
How can this be done?
Not by a click of your fingers, that’s for sure! In this article, we’ll explore several straightforward ways to brand your business online, building up your identity, uniqueness and ultimately attract more customers.
Integrity – Getting customer relations right
Business integrity is much more important online than offline. With the web, customers have a ready-made platform to broadcast their complaints. Information can be shared in an instant, making or breaking your business. 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
- High standards of integrity should be maintained at all times in all your dealings. No tricks, no ploys.
- On the internet, honesty will get you places. Market yourself this way and be as open as possible on social media and other mediums.
Whilst the web does provide a platform for complaints; it is also an extremely useful tool for pursuing friendly relations with customers. You can not only broadcast your messages online through websites, email and social networks, but also directly and individually communicate with customers. The saying is that ‘courtesy costs nothing’; however, whilst businesses can talk about etiquette till the cows come home, they have an unfortunate reputation for making it rare in practice.
A little courtesy goes a long way. People always remember positive or negative experiences in your treatment of them.
The importance of this point is epitomized by Facebook, who now record and display prominently the average response time to private messages by pages. Consumer reviews of brands are also conspicuously visible on search engines.
To find out more about review and reputation management, click here.
Spelling & grammar
Whilst this may seem like a no-brainer, spelling and grammar are very important in the world of online marketing. More often than not, they are absent in business communications and marketing messages. Whilst some don’t care two hoots about this, many customers still pick-up on it, losing marks for professionalism. Remember to always:
- Run things through a spell-checker
- Check that your grammar and punctuality are on-point.
This point is perhaps the most key. How can people recognise and identify your business online, in the mass of competitors, clamouring for their attention?
Visuals are instantly recognisable. We see a logo or particular combination of colours and instantly, everything we know about that company is brought to mind.
Your business’ logo and colour scheme should be consistent, recognisable and professional, throughout all your web presence. If this means employing an expensive graphics design agency, then so be it. Your logo is worth every penny; get it right the first time. Businesses that change their logo every six months will never get there.
Getting the best real estate on Google – go in for the kill
Your brand’s web presence is exemplified best by your search engine presence, into which all the previous points have their part to play. To really beat your competitors, you need to bag the best brand real estate on Google. Google wants to promote brands, to ensure the best experience for their users.
The image to the left shows a typical Google search result, minus ads. First up are Google+ results (in red), displaying basic information, taken from three Google+ pages of different businesses.
Second, there are several directories listing different companies (in blue), plus one business’ website (which has a search-engine-friendly URL, title and description).
These two areas are the prime search engine real estate. Nowhere else will get a look-in.
How do you get on there?
Quite simply, for starters, you need:
- a Google+ page
- a search-engine-friendly website
- up-to-date listings on directories
- active social media accounts.
Being registered on directories and social networks increases your overall web presence, shows to Google that you’re serious. Moreover, if you’re not there, then you’re competitors will be. You need to be louder and more vibrant than your competitors to stand-out. Don’t shy away from taking them on!
As a final note: remember that building up your brand like this is a continual long-term process, from which there can be no-break. Good luck!