One of the biggest mistakes online sellers make is misunderstanding the role of branding.
Many start an online business either without paying any attention to their brand or rushing something through that misses the mark, because they mistakenly consider brand building to be non-essential or less important than other elements of listing, marketing and promoting a product for sale online.
In reality, your brand is at the foundation of everything you do to launch a successful online business.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, once said “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
In a nutshell, this Goliath of the e-commerce world is telling sellers, that without a reputation (a brand) you are nothing.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos
But what is a brand anyway?
Where does branding stop and marketing and advertising start?
Do you even need a brand to be successful online?
A strong brand begins with a strong foundation. A brand foundation starts at the core and works its way out. A solid brand is the life source of a company and, like any business, online or bricks and mortar, it must be built from the bottom up.
A brand is what gives a product or company its name. It is how people recognize it and remember it.
A brand resonates with consumers who are exactly right for the business and communicates what your company is all about.
It is one of the biggest assets that a company has, and it enables you to stand out from the competition, which thanks to Covid and the popularity of online shopping, has just increased astronomically.
All of this messaging, positioning and communication begins with your brand foundation (often called a brand strategy) and the risk is, if you fail to take the time to develop your strategy, your brand will simply fall short of what it could be, or worse, will fail to even leave the launch pad, because without a solid foundation, all of your communications, messaging, promotions, imagery, advertising, listing…everything, is based on knee-jerk reaction, or that element most entrepreneurs suffer from, what we call ‘bright-shiny-objectitis’.
So where do you start with a brand strategy?
How can you ensure that you are crafting a strong brand foundation?
Here are the 10 steps to crafting a strong brand foundation for your online business - but first, lets get clear about what a brand is:
What is a brand?
Put simply, a brand defines who you are as a business and how you want to make your ideal audience feel. It is your consumers’ perception of your company. Perception is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses and the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.
A brand is what others think of when they think of your business. A strong brand is consistent and communicates what your company has to offer very clearly across all applications, platforms and channels.
A strong brand knows where it stands in the marketplace. It knows who the ideal consumers are and what they want, and it focuses on doing everything it can to give them that.
So how can you create a great brand that is well recognized? Here are the 10 step to build a strong brand foundation.
10 Steps For A Strong Brand Foundation
- 1Understand the purpose behind your brand. What is it that you want to offer to the world? Not only the product or service, but get down deep. Why does your company exist? What is its true purpose? What do you want to change in the world or leave as a legacy? Why did you even decide to get started and provide the products or services that you do?
- 2Discover who your target audience is and what problem they have that your brand can solve. You will need to understand exactly who you are selling to in order to build a brand that will attract their attention. Their demographics, psychographics and communication style. Consider their lifestage and lifestyle and who influences their decision making. This will take some research, but without a target audience, you are unable to build a strong brand foundation.
- 3Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to determine exactly where you fit in the market. This will be a great place to build off of and really narrow your market down. This includes researching competitor brands within your industry to be sure that you are differing from and standing out against them. Your brand should never imitate another. You should aim for diversity and uniqueness.
- 4Create a mission and vision. While these are two separate entities, they are both equally important. Oftentimes they are mistaken for being the same thing, however, they are very different. A mission statement is a summary of the values of your company. It gives the purpose for the brand’s existence. In short, it summarizes what you do and how you do it. It is the reason and inspiration for your brand. Whereas, the vision statement expresses the goals you have for your company. It shows what you want to become. It is more of a guidance than a purpose and it shows your consumers where your company is headed.
- 5List the benefits and key qualities that your company has to offer. Why should consumers trust your brand? What value will it add to their lives? By focusing on the quality of your products and services and showing your consumers how they can benefit from it, you are one step closer to creating a memorable brand. This is your time to show your customers what makes you stand out. What is unique about your company?
- 6Create a brand identity. After you have honed in on your brand’s message to the world, it is important to create an aesthetically appealing logo, using imagery and colours for people to recognize. It is a visual representation of your brand and should reflect your company’s purpose and quality. It is also important to create a good “home base” for your brand. This is typically a website that serves as an online storefront for your company. This will be where your brand will reside, as well as how your customers can get in touch with you, so it should be cohesive and well-designed, building on those foundations so your brand is consistently making people feel a certain way.
- 7Define your brand’s voice. Each brand has a unique voice. You want one that stands out in the market. This sets the tone for how you communicate with your customers and how they will respond. Your brand voice should resonate with your potential clients and be inviting, yet informative. Your brand voice will be what the consumers first come across when considering your brand, so it should really call out to them. A helpful exercise is to find your brands one-word - like Volvo and safety, Nike and action, Apple and innovation…what is your brands one word that can help define the way your brand communicates?
- 8Create a story that shows off your brand personality. Each brand has its own personality. This goes along with your brand’s voice and should be cohesive with that. You will want to come up with a story that shows that side of your brand. Your story should tell your customers who you are as a brand, what you offer, and why they should care. It should be intricate and detailed and completely in alignment with your brand voice. Consider what your brand would be like if it were a person? How would they dress? What would their physical attributes be? What would they do for fun? What sort of tools would they use? Who would they hang out with?
- 9Integrate your brand into each and every aspect of your company. Every part of your business should flow together. This includes everything from your website to your packaging, collateral, marketing and your business cards. It will even affect who you employ on your team. Every part of your business should reflect who you are as a brand and what your mission and vision are.
- 10Stay consistent in your brand building. Consistency is key to building a strong foundation in anything, including a brand. Create a mood board with images, colours, quotes and examples that ‘get you in the right mood’ when you are creating any communications and help you create marketing that springs up from your brand foundations. Use your brand voice across all areas and media, and be sure to stay true to your brand, don’t overpromise and underdeliver, be clear on what your brand stands for and what it will never do. Affiliate and partner with like-minded brands and don’t be afraid to say no to opportunities if they don’t fit with your brand strategy.
Use these 10 steps, to begin creating a strong brand foundation so you can get your company out there for the world to see, making sure you stand out from the crowd and resonate with the right audience.
Consistency is key to building a strong foundation in anything, including a brand.
Brand building may not be easy, but as Jeff Bezos said, doing the hard things well, is what will make your brand stand out. So don’t rush past this vital element of building your online business. Pay attention to it, spend time on it and invest yourself into building a brand foundation that will support your business for many years to come.
At BrandCrafting, we specialize in crafting brands, working with you to ensure that your brand is unique, helping you identify and solve a problem and communicating that properly.
Contact Us today to find out how.