What is branding?
Branding distills everything about what you do and how you do it into a singular, memorable essence that people will remember and continuously associate with your company. Think of the McDonald’s golden arches or the multicolor rings on the Olympics insignia. Even a simple symbol or image can convey meaningful associations that resonate the world over.
We’ve just tossed three B’s in your direction: brand, branding, and brand identity. They’re all related but not quite the same.
Your brand is the way the outside world perceives your company.
Your branding is the process of designing and building a unique, memorable brand.
Your brand identity is the set of creative elements that feed into the branding process—like your website, social media, and logo—that broadcast your message, values, and purpose.
Start defining your brand by asking yourself these questions:
Who are you as a company?
What makes you unique from other brands?
What is your brand’s mission statement? What gives it purpose?
What are your values?
Who is your ideal customer?
Knowing and defining exactly who you are is the first step in creating a meaningful brand.
What is digital branding?
Why does a digital brand presence matter? Well, look up from that phone you’re probably on… We’re all using our devices constantly. Most of us engage with the larger world through the lens of the internet, which makes it essential for brands to reach target customers and convert one-time users into long-term loyalists.
The benefits of digital branding
Target your audience
Your company’s online presence is the premiere mode by which most potential customers will learn about and interact with your brand. Digital branding lets you zero in on your audience by targeting specific customer groups through the online platforms they use most frequently: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more.
Take a company like Outdoor Voices, a workout clothing brand. In a matter of years, it’s developed its own social media hashtag, #DoingThings, which customers tag when they’re wearing its clothing and embodying its lifestyle. Currently, more than 155,000 posts are tagged with #DoingThings on Instagram alone.
#DoingThings is the difference between blind consumption of a product and feel like you’re a part of a group or lifestyle. When you buy leggings or a sports bra from them, you’re purchasing admission into a massive digital club. That’s much more compelling to customers than simply buying any ol’ exercise clothes.
Connect with customers
Successful digital branding makes customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them, especially because you’re engaged on the same platforms they use to interact with friends and family members. Be personal and meaningful: that’s how you convert one-time customers into lifelong brand followers.
At its core, digital branding facilitates communication between a company and its customers. This can be as simple as making it easy for customers to find information about your company on your website, or helping them quickly get great customer service. Ultimately, a brand that isn’t searchable online practically doesn’t exist in the contemporary consumer’s mind.
Spread the word—fast!
There are tertiary benefits to digital branding too, like the potential to “go viral” or reach a mass audience in a short period of time at little to no cost.
Take Popeye’s now-infamous chicken sandwich. In just days of releasing the sandwich, the product received an estimated $23 million in free online advertising simply because so many people—reporters, newscasters, and Twitter users—were sharing, posting, and liking it. Now the sandwich is sold-out at many restaurants, providing even more clout and advertising for the product. This is the sort of exposure money can’t buy.