Everyone, if you think about it, is a brand. Even you, whether you're a marketer, a teacher, or a gardener, have a personality, an appearance, a voice, values, something to say, and people who listen to you. The same is true for businesses. Whether you're a startup, small business, large corporation, or a single entity, you want to develop a digital branding strategy to better reach your target audience and increase sales. As of 2020, there will be 4.57 billion active internet
users. That equates to 59 percent of the world's population. While reaching all
of those people is a stretch, the possibility is far greater online than with
any traditional strategy. To be successful in today's technological world, you
must create and maintain an effective online brand.
What Is the Definition of a Digital Branding Strategy?
A digital branding strategy, in general, is how you communicate your brand's identity to consumers online with the overarching goal of increasing customer loyalty and sales. Consider your brand to be a person. A person, as previously stated, has a name, an appearance, a personality, values, something to say, and someone to say it to. A digital branding strategy leverages this brand personality and strategically positions it to compete in a specific market.
What Is the Importance of Digital Brand Strategy?
A company without a brand is boring, just like a person without a personality. People also tend to avoid any association with boring people or businesses. People will trust your brand and maintain a long relationship if it has the personality of a friendly superhero saving lives or a kind neighbor helping others.
In fact, 81% of consumers say trust is the most important factor in their purchasing decisions. They are 33 percent more likely than other consumers to remain loyal to a brand when it is consistent, and 27 percent more likely to advocate for a brand when it is consistent. In addition to gaining consumer trust, developing an effective brand-building strategy can:
1. Increase company value
2. Boost sales
3. Heighten the perceived brand quality
4. Lower employee turnover
To maximize the potential of these benefits, digital branding is centered on relationship building and requires the right strategies.
Digital Marketing vs. Digital Branding
Just as a brand's personality, mission, vision, and voice are important in digital branding, so are visual elements such as color schemes, logos, and fonts. Essentially, these digital branding tools inform your customers about who you are and what you are attempting to accomplish.
Digital branding improves digital marketing when it is integrated into a digital marketing strategy. Marketing takes a company's brand and turns it into something useful, serving as the foundation for marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), lead generation, partnerships, and digital content creation. Digital marketing strategies may not reach their full potential if a strong digital strategy is not developed.
How Does One Develop a Digital Branding Strategy?
A brand does not emerge overnight. Consistent effort, long-term goals, digital strategy research, creativity, and the right platforms are required. To develop a digital branding strategy, you should do the following:
1. Determine the mission and vision of your brand.
2. Recognize your target audience
3. Understand your sales funnel
4. Make the most of market opportunities and competitive positioning
5. Make your brand's design consistent.
6. Create high-quality content
7. Select the best digital publishing platform
8. Conduct brand audits
Remember that brand building is an ongoing process. Your brand, like a person, should evolve over time, especially as market trends shift and technology advances.
1. Determine the Mission and Vision of Your Brand
What is the purpose of your brand, where will it grow, and how is it different from your competitors? The mission and vision of your brand tell your target audience exactly what you stand for and give them something to connect with. It's a window into your brand, serving as an enticing start to a long relationship.
To communicate your brand's: use clear, concise statements.
Mission: Who you are and what you do.
Vision: Why you do what you do, what your goals are, and how you plan to achieve them.
Expand on your mission and vision statements, and use storytelling to connect with your target audience. Personalize your company by sharing its origins and outlining its path to where it is now. These messages are frequently found on a company's "about" page.
Share Your Brand's Positioning Statement
The position statement of a brand differentiates its mission and vision from what competitors are already doing. Take inventory of your brand, including employee contributions, target audience, competitor positioning, and performance, and weave it all together to communicate the value of your brand.
A useful brand positioning statement is:
1. Authentic: Don't promise the world because you can't deliver it and people won't believe you if you do. Deliver something realistic and consistent with your brand.
2. Concentration: Avoid covering too much ground. Find a point of agreement between your objectives and condense your position statement to focus on that idea.
3. Personable: Explain to your customers how your mission and vision will benefit them personally, and how you will deliver those benefits better than your competitors.
4. Actionable: Describe how you will consistently act in the direction of your goals.
5. Memorable: Deliver a powerful message that will stay with your target audience long after their initial interaction.
6. Understandable: Most importantly, clearly and effectively communicate your position.
Second only to your brand identity, your positioning statement serves as the foundation for all of your marketing efforts. The primary goal of the statement is to distinguish your brand from others in the industry in such a way that your target audience is compelled to buy from you. In other words, your positioning statement should define what your company offers, the benefits of doing so, and how it differs from what everyone else is selling. This could be due to superior products, service, culture, deliverability, and so on. The key is to focus on what your buyers want and what you can deliver realistically.
Positioning of a Digital Brand
Your mission, vision, and position statements describe who you are to your target audience, but is your perceived audience the people your brand is attracting?
Developing a positioning statement must begin with an assessment of your brand, including how your employees contribute to it, how your customers perceive it, what your competition is doing, and what your brand's current reputation is. You can learn about your true target audience, the category or industry in which you can compete, any points of differentiation between your brand and others, and reasons why customers should buy from you. This data will be combined to create your brand's positioning statement, which is a concise description of who the brand is and why the intended audience should care.
How to Write a Strong Position Statement
While the strength of positioning statements varies, a compelling statement will empower your brand to do and sell more. Begin by comparing your proposed branding statement to the list below:
Checklist for a Strong Positioning Statement:
1. Is this true to form? Is it in line with your vision and mission? Is it plausible?
2. Authenticity â€“ Does it make the brand "real" by imbuing it with a personality that customers can relate to? Is there a specific tone of voice or vocabulary that your customers respond to?
3. Is the statement focused on the benefits? Is it attempting to cover too much ground in too little time?
4. Unique â€“ Does the statement stand out? Can customers assert the same position? Is it repositioning the competition to give the company a competitive advantage? Will it have an impact on the industry landscape?
5. Highlights Commitment â€“ Is it valuable to your customers? Does it demonstrate your commitment to your customers or the quality of your products and services?
6. Personal â€“ Is it possible for the company to "own it?" Is it a result of something the company does well? Do your employees agree with this assertion?
7. Will it keep growing? Can it evolve, adapt, and change over time while remaining true?
8. Deliverable â€“ Is it an accurate claim that you can consistently deliver on?
9. Memorable â€“ Will it stick out in the minds of your target audience? Does it address the issues that are important to them?
10. Understandable â€“ Does it use words that your target audience understands? Is it free of jargon and fifty-cent words?
Once you've created a compelling positioning statement, your brand will have a reference point for all future marketing efforts. Each piece of content should be compared to the positioning statement and found to support the same claims, personality, and goals.
2. Understand What Your Audience Needs
Who are you attempting to connect with, how do they think, and is there a customer profile you may be missing? Your target audience directs your strategies and gives meaning to your digital brand. You don't have a brand unless you have an audience. Thus, understanding your audience is directly related to the success and acceptance of your brand.
Split Your Audience
Avoid the misconception that "everyone" is your target audience. People will react differently to your brand even if your company sells the most generalized products, such as groceries. People may perceive farmer's market vendors differently than discounted supermarkets, for example. Even if both markets receive their produce from the same sources, some consumers are willing to spend more at a farmer's market for the perceived higher quality of produce. Others, on the other hand, may prefer discounted supermarkets because they fit their lifestyles.
By segmenting your audience, you can get a general idea of who they are, allowing you to develop more informed digital branding strategies. Divide your audience into the following categories:
1. Demographics include factors such as age, gender, income, education level, and occupation.
2. Geography refers to geographical aspects such as country, city, language, climate, and population.
3. Psychographics: Individual characteristics such as lifestyle, interests, opinions, personalities, and values.
It is important to note that your brand will most likely cater to multiple segments. What matters most is that you are consistent in reaching out to these audiences and that you value their unique needs.
Make Buyer Personas.
Consider your customer segments to be semi-fictional personas to whom your brand speaks in the same way you imagined your brand as a person. Transform the segments into a description, as if you were an author brainstorming a character for a novel. Give them a name and picture them as:
1. Personal history
2. Business experience
4. Problems that must be resolved
5. Motivations and objectives
6. Your brand strategies will have the guidelines for consistent, accurate, and effective branding if you create these detailed buyer personas.
3. Understand Your Brand Funnel
How does your brand attract and nurture buyer personas to the point of purchase? A brand funnel depicts the number of people who are aware of your brand versus the number of people who engage with it. People who reach the intermediate steps or go the extra mile are also highlighted in funnels.
Starting at the top, a brand funnel has the following levels:
The number of people who are aware of your brand.
Consider how many people have heard of your brand and are interested in using it.
Preference: The percentage of those people who would choose your brand over another.
The number of people who are currently using your brand.
Advocacy: How many people who use your brand would recommend it to others?
By continuously monitoring the health of a brand funnel, strategists can make more informed decisions about where people are leaving and what is required to keep them from leaving.
Analyze the Condition of Your Brand Funnel
The shape of your brand funnel can indicate its health. Your strategies may differ depending on whether your funnel is:
Skinny: A thin funnel indicates that you are either in the early stages of brand development or that your strategy could be improved. Plan strategies for increasing brand awareness and communicating your mission, vision, and position statements more effectively.
An upside-down triangle: If you're generating a lot of awareness but seeing a big difference in usage or advocacy, you'll want to figure out where you're losing customers and figure out how to fill that gap.
Wide: At each stage, a healthy brand funnel is broad. Expect a healthy majority of audience members who are aware of your brand to use or advocate for it.
Whatever your brand, your goal is to guide as many people as possible down the funnel using your carefully researched branding strategies.
4. Make the most of market opportunities and competitive positioning
What are your competitors doing, and how can you capitalize on market opportunities? For this step, you should use your preferred search engine. Most brands operate in well-established industries with established trends and competitors, all of which can be found through online research.
It's not time to reinvent the wheel right now. Instead, capitalize on what is already available, learn from what marketing opportunities your competitors are or aren't utilizing, and listen to what your target audience desires.
Conduct a Competitive Analysis
Your competitors will be classified into one of three groups:
Direct: Brands that sell the same products to the same geographical audience as you.
Indirect competitors sell substitutional products rather than identical products, such as pens versus pencils.
Tertiary: These brands do not sell the same or similar products, but they may become a direct or indirect competitor in the future.
You're probably already keeping an eye on a few competitors. Complete your list by entering your company's name into your search engine and noting any competitors who appear on the search engine results page (SERP). When analyzing your competitors, keep the following in mind:
2. Audience reach
5. Social media usage
6. Visual identity
8. Call to action (CTAs)
In general, you should look for their branding strengths and weaknesses in order to identify any gaps in your own digital branding. For example, you might discover a new customer segment to target or that your competitor is meeting a customer need you haven't yet identified.
5. Develop a Consistent Design for Your Brand
How will your target audience remember your company? Within 90 seconds of first interacting with a product, consumers make an unconscious judgment on the brand, which is heavily influenced by design elements such as color. A well-designed, cohesive brand provides advantages such as:
1. Less money spent on advertising
2. Stronger brand recognition
3. Positive brand perception
4. More sales revenue
Your design should be consistent across all platforms where your brand is present, such as websites, social media, apps, presentations, videos, blog posts, magazines, advertisements, and so on.
Build a Visual Identity
Your brand is a single identity, but maintaining it requires company-wide collaboration. Create a branding guide for your company, detailing visual brand identity elements such as a distinct:
Color scheme: Color boosts brand recognition by 80%, making it one of the most influential visual factors in building and maintaining a strong digital brand. Choose a primary color, a secondary color, and an accent color that best represents the nature of your brand. When choosing your color palette, keep in mind that different colors elicit different emotions. Choose a color palette that corresponds to the psychographic of your buyer persona.
Develop a symbol to represent your company strategically. Consider well-known brands such as McDonald's. Their logo is simple, a M that resembles their food staple of french fries, and was designed to reflect their signature brand colors of red and yellow. Keep it simple and transparent if you want people to look at your logo and immediately recognize your brand's persona.
Font: Choosing the right font entails more than just selecting a legible option. It is how the reader interprets the tone of your brand. So, if you use a capitalized bold font, you will appear assertive, whereas if you use a smaller dainty style, you will appear soft and gentle. Choose a memorable font, but keep those with reading difficulties in mind.
Style of photography: Your images should be brand-focused. Determine what content to emphasize and what aesthetic to maintain, keeping in mind your color palette and brand personality. Avoid using dull or one-dimensional imagery to continue a story about your brand because your audience will not want to connect with it.
Beyond these four pillars, additional visual identity elements such as textures, backgrounds, and icons exist, but they are not always required. Above all, develop a distinct visual identity for your brand. Think outside the box, but don't make anything too fantastical.
6. Publish Good Quality Content
What message are you attempting to convey, and how will your audience comprehend it? The content of your brand is linked to your brand voice and includes the media used to communicate a message to your audience. Content includes written forms such as blogs and e-books, as well as things such as:
If you limit yourself to one medium, your audience will most likely lose interest. The key to producing brand-friendly, high-quality content is to provide something useful to your audience. What issues must be addressed, and how does your audience want to interact with the solutions? By consistently anticipating and answering your audience's questions in an engaging manner, they will want to return to your brand for trustworthy information in the future.
Clarify your style and tone.
To effectively communicate your brand's message while distinguishing yourself from the competition, you should develop a distinct:
Tone is the emotion behind your content, and it is heavily influenced by the reader. For example, if you own a luxury rooftop martini bar in New York City, you want to exude superiority and high class. However, if not done carefully, a reader may interpret your tone as snobbish, even if this is the exact opposite tone you intended.
Style is the manner in which you communicate your message. You use style to influence how the reader perceives your tone by employing techniques such as brand-specific verbiage or sentence structure.
Tone and style work together to create your brand's voice. Because your voice is distinct, select media and platforms that allow you to easily customize and develop content that accurately reflects your brand.
7. Select the Best Digital Publishing Platform
How and where will you distribute your content? Not all digital publishing platforms are created equal. Some provide structured assistance, while others focus on self-publishing. Choose a digital publishing platform that meets your requirements.
Select a platform that is:
Your needs and goals will naturally change as technology advances. Find a platform that is focused on growth so you don't have to worry about switching in the future.
Find a Platform that meets the expectations of your target audience.
Consider how you intend to reach your target audience via your digital channels. Put yourself in their shoes and consider their way of life. Do they have hectic schedules? Or do they frequently find information while sitting in front of a computer?
The majority of Americans are online, with 81 percent owning a smartphone, nearly 75 percent owning a desktop or laptop computer, and approximately 50 percent owning a tablet or e-reader. That's a lot of people online, with a variety of screen sizes and capabilities. You want a platform that can remain adaptable and accessible to all members of your audience.
Remember that some of your target audience members may be visually impaired or have difficulty understanding things. As a result, experiment with the platform's features, ensuring that you can zoom in and out of visuals and text, as well as include audio or video elements within the content page.
Analytics to Help You Understand Your Customers
Learn about how your customers interact with your platform on an analytical level as well. Analytics reveal exactly what your customers prefer to interact with. You can use this knowledge to create related content, or to identify content that they don't engage with as much and strengthen or restructure it.
Your information should be as follows:
6. Secure Your Analytics
Analytics-based curation strategies also increase your return on investment (ROI). On average, insight-driven businesses grow 30% faster than non-analytics-tracking businesses. By 2021, these companies are expected to earn a total of $1.8 trillion.
Set key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your digital branding goals, which may include views, impressions, watch time, clicks, calls, sales, signups, brand interest lift, and more. To track the most accurate, goal-driven data, select a digital publishing platform with built-in analytics.
8. Perform Proper Brand Audits
How well are you achieving your objectives? If you're tracking KPIs, you shouldn't go into branding blindly without any goals. With these strategies, where do you hope to steer your brand? How are you planning on getting there? Setting KPIs helps keep your strategies on track to meet those specific, quantitative goals.
Take a Genuine Step Back
Setting goals and strategies to achieve them is important, but you must also take the time to assess how well they are performing within the context of your:
1. Mission, vision, and position statement
2. Target audience
3. Competitor analysis
4. Market trends
5. Competitive positioning
6. Strengths and weaknesses
7. Top Notch Branding Strategies
First, examine your analytics. Are you meeting, exceeding, or falling short of your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Do you notice any unexpected trends or areas where you should reallocate your branding budget? You'll have to dig a little deeper from there. Talk directly to your customers and ask them direct questions about how they perceive and interact with your brand. As an example:
1. Would you recommend us to a friend?
2. What problems do you often find yourself facing?
3. How can we help solve those problems?
4. Why do you use our products or services?
5. Who else do you consider when looking for solutions to your problems?
Be cautious about who, how, and what you ask, because user bias can cause data to skew one way or another. Try to remain objective and avoid any statistical fallacies.
Regroup and Brainstorm Possible Solutions
Revisit your KPIs and develop digital branding strategies using the information gathered during your brand audit. Compare your predictions to the results and make changes where you believe they are the best fit. Keep in mind that branding is a process. Markets shift, new competitors enter the industry, technology advances, and economies crash and rise. To remain relevant, conduct a brand audit whenever your team notices these influential shifts or believes your brand is losing traction.
Case Studies and Examples of Digital Branding Strategies
Innovative branding strategies have contributed to the success of well-known brands such as Netflix, IKEA, and Apple.
Streaming service like Netflix
Netflix is a popular streaming service for movie and television show fans. Netflix has grown in popularity since its launch in the late 1990s, with users now streaming on mobile devices, gaming consoles, tablets, smart TVs, and other devices. Netflix rebranded their logo to stand out against competitors and remain easily recognizable to consumers in light of changes in consumer behavior brought about by over 20 years of technological advancements.
IKEA is another company that is expanding with their customer base. This is a fun, quirky, and reasonably priced furniture store that is popular among younger demographics. IKEA's branding strategists knew they needed to come up with new ways to connect with their buyer personas.
IKEA created and published personalized campaigns such as Oddly IKEA using digital content channels such as social media, YouTube, and art installations. Researchers recognized a trend of ASMR videos with younger demographics, specifically college students, by thinking outside the box. They created a 25-minute ASMR video using IKEA products such as comforters, pillows, and sheets.
Apple is a master of storytelling. Apple's branding experts use digital content such as videos, podcasts, and social media to communicate passion, creativity, and relationship-building through storytelling. One example is their popular YouTube video "Share Your Gifts," which has over 25 million views.
The film follows a lively four-person family as they travel to their grandfather's house for the holidays. A deeply emotional tone pervades the video as the family misses their respective grandmother, mother, and wife. The two young children use Apple technology to bring the family together with a heartfelt digital presentation using memorabilia found around the house.
Because Apple does not wave their product in front of their audience, this commercial is well-received. Instead, they put themselves in their shoes and created an engaging video that emphasized storytelling.