How to start building your online brand ?

Your brand is what people speak about you when you are not in the room — the famous quote by Jeff Bezos, founder, amazon

This is the ultimate truth. It is not just a fancy logo, cool design, and your visiting card. It is more than that. A brand is the ultimate competitive advantage in your business. It is what is going to allow you it will allow you to succeed and prosper for many years to come. You can succeed and prosper long term by building a brand.

For many years, a lot of business owners are focusing on building their transactions and business than building a brand.

How do you prepare for a world in 2020 where people are spending more time online rather than offline Especially When you have spent last decades in building your business offline, marketing your products physically. With offline businesses facing troubles in these unprecedented times of COVID-19 around the world, to be online is the need of the hour.
The future is digital.

As online content consumption, shopping is surging year after year. More and more small businesses are realizing that the best way to connect their customer is through digital channels.

Whether you are looking to move your entire business structure online, or a better way to showcase your products or services, or engage your prospects and potential customers in some or the other way. This is a mindset change. It’s about creating a culture shift in your business.

1. Get your branding basics right

To build your powerful brand, you must get your basic things right. Every brand makes a promise that they are going to do something for his customer. For example, FedEx brand promise is it has to absolutely, positively be there overnight, however in today’s world a brand promise really isn’t enough. You need something deeper. Something which connects closely with the audience with your customers, what we need is a brand purpose.

You must ask yourself the following:
— What do they want?
— Why do they want?
— How do they want?

By having a defining purpose, you will be able to connect more strongly. And you will also be able to differentiate from your customers.
Design your brand closer to your purpose. Your brand name, logo, color accent, choice of photos and elements, everything visual will set a perception in your prospects mind. It has to be visually appealing, a treat to their eyes, something they have been looking for, something which defines your business.

Things to do: Decide on a brand name, tag line, and a message you want to deliver. Create a logo for your brand, Use the same color scheme across all your marketing collateral.

2. Know your target audience

Running an offline business means you have an advantage from the digital competition here. You get to interact with your customers daily. You know what they love and what gets them frustrated. Speak with them; start building the profile of your average customers including their demographics, their buying habits, and their behavioral interests, where are they spending time online. Their online experience may be different, but you need to understand and find some ways to adapt.

Drafting extensive customer persona will help you decide upon your digital marketing channels you will be using, the message you want to deliver, and various day to day tactics to woo them.

Things to do: Keep your customer profile templates ready. Create a spreadsheet of profiles.
Demographics (Age, marital status, gender, parental status, etc)
Geographic (Location, city, ethnicity, etc)
Psychographics (Habits, Lifestyle, interests, values)
Socio-economic (Income, Occupation, Education, Household description, Expense budget, etc)

There could be multiple profiles with few of permutation combinations. It will help you to understand your ideal customer.

3. Analyze your Competition

The kind of competition your business faces will change drastically. After all, you are dependent on online visitors not foot traffic in your shops. You will be not competing in your local area in the digital world. The trick here to find out what makes your business unique.

Research your competitors on what are they selling, how are they selling and to whom are they selling. What is their main source of leads, how do they convert them, what is their engagement strategy, how are they retaining their existing customers, so on and so forth.

What you also need to understand is how you are different from your customers like literally. You might not be better but you could be different than your competitors. Your key differentiating point will be your competitive edge over others. Your proposition could be anything but powerful enough to influence your customers could make a decision. It could be anything such as free lessons if you are teaching online, your returns policy, your free guide books with service which could be helpful to your customers. Anything value added to the products bought / services rendered will always remain a competitive edge.

Things to do: Create a detailed competitive analysis spreadsheet that includes your list of competitors, their branding message/positioning statement, products + Services, traffic sources, reviews and comments, engagements tactics, business policies, notable campaigns, revenue if possible.

4. Choose your Product / Service delivery

After researching who is your audience, what they want, and what they have been buying from your competitors, it’s your time to fill in the need gap fit. Work on the value advantage you can offer to your customers over competitors. There has to be through analysis of the trade between value-added services and potential revenue opportunities. After all, everything you are doing is business, it has to be for profits.
It’s a good practice to create a brief of your products or services you are offering.

Write down all the benefits your customer will get if they chose to transact with you. Your selling point should be a good mix of features, advantages, and benefits.

Create a brief brochure of products or services you are offering and define the mode of transaction and delivery.

Things to do:
Ask yourself these questions?
— What are the products/services you will be offering?
— What is the added value of your offerings?
— How will you ship your products or render your service?
— What is the mode of payments?
— What would your user experience journey?
— What about after-sales services or returns?
— How are you going to manage your inventory of products and content of your services?

Once you answer all the questions above you are good to go and start reaching your audience.

5. Start building your online presence

This would be your first point of contact interacting with your target audience. Register a domain name for your business and build a website. Use the same color scheme, aesthetics, fonts which you have defined in your marketing collateral. The design of your website, cards, social media profiles, emailer, or any other communication form has to be uniform and unique. Register your business in local directories for better visibility.

Useful tools:
— for creating the logo
— for registering the domain name and building website (Shopify or WordPress tools could be handy to configure online shopping website)
— Instamojo / Razorpay for payment modes.
— for email marketing
— Facebook pages twitter profiles, YouTube channels, Instagram business profiles, and LinkedIn company page for creating a social media page.
— Zoom app for video consulting sessions
— Teachable / Thinkific for online course delivery
— Your preferred logistics partner based on product characteristics and availability (Integration with your eCommerce for seamless experience)
— Zapier for automation of deliveries, payments and most of the manual tasks
— Woorank / Google page speed insights to check website performance and improvement tips
— Google Analytics, search console for analysis of your web traffic
— Google Adwords, Facebook ads for paid traffic
— Google My Business Manager for local awareness

Focus on creating hard-hitting content and get the word out. Ask your existing close customers and your contacts to share your page and recommend them in their network. You can approach a few of the local influencers to gain traction. Keep posting content and monitoring comments & Reviews. Start with a small budget of paid ads based on your strategy for immediate traffic.

You can also share coupons, discounts, value offerings to spread out the word. Remember the buyer journey, where they are present and when do they like to make a purchase. It has to be a funnel driven approach from capturing leads, nurturing them, offering solutions, and converting into real customers.

Creating an online branding strategy would be different for every business based on characteristics of offerings and target audience. You will be creating a brand that has a purpose and resonates with your target audience. Your bran offerings and personality will help you achieve a competitive edge and sell more online. Your uniform design will create a perception and leaves an impression in your customers’ minds. Always advocate your brand’s message consistently.

These are the basic fundamentals of online branding. There is still a long way to go in building brand awareness in the ocean of content.