Digital Branding is an organization’s identity, visibility and credibility in the online or digital community. This concept challenges quantity over quality by encouraging companies to build a relationship with their consumers online. There are 4 key elements to establishing a strong digital brand:
- Build a digital brand story
- Be creative in digital media and marketing
- Use data on consumer habits to distribute through the appropriate digital channels
- Create digital relationships
There is no “right” way to achieve digital branding success. Companies like Google, Apple, Uber and Facebook have proved that there is not one strategy that guarantees success. However, it has been proven that a strong digital brand will only help a company to gain consumer trust and return greater profits.
Role of Digital Branding and Why It Is Important
Author and Motivational Speaker Simon Sinek became well known after giving an empowering Ted Talk about how great leaders inspire action. Passionately, Sinek states that people don’t care what you do, they care why you do it. While Sinek was speaking to the qualities of great leaders, the same can be applied for companies in terms of digital branding.
At this point, there is really no distinguishing between branding and digital branding, they are one in the same. Most companies are digitally present in some way and for good reason. Today’s consumers expect to be able to connect with companies through some sort of digital platform, whether it is a social media site or the company’s own website. The combination of consumers’ expectations and companies response to that expectation means there are many variations on how companies attempt to create a digital brand.
Back to Simon Sinek’s point, it is not enough to present to consumers what your company offers. They need to see why the company offers it, why they do what they do. Consumers are smart and they know when a company is trying to persuade them of something. Consumers have more access to information than ever and it will only take them a matter of seconds to go online and read everyone else’s opinions about a product or service.
The most famous example of this is probably Apple. Apple used emotional connections to build a brand that has millions of loyal users. Apple achieved this by staying true to the core of why they are in business: to make a person’s life easier through their products. They earned consumers trust and have kept that trust over time, which many of their competitors failed at.
Additional reasons to keep digital branding as an important company initiative include:
- Optimize a feeling of connectedness with your users
- Brand have less say in what is said about them online, so make sure users have great things to say about your brand
- Strong digital branding will earn media attention
- Digital branding will help to keep an edge of your competition
How Digital Branding Can Impact Your Business
The more people that see your companies name, the better, right? Digital Branding is the opportunity to get a company’s logo, name or product in front of millions. This is no easy feat, but the right digital branding strategy is sure to return huge dividends. It all starts with content. Sure, every company wants to put out content that will go viral so they receive the most clicks, but consider quality of quantity. Look at American Express, for example. AmEx has a very strong brand that is supported in part by their online community, Open Forum. This is a collaborative site that includes high quality content created by industry experts. AmEx is seeing huge benefits from having an SEO optimized site with great content that they don’t have to pay contributors for.
Content is not the only way to win in the world of digital marketing. It’s important not to forget the organic side of digital branding as well. There is much to be said about the tried and true benefits of word-of-mouth advertising, just ask Uber. It is reported that nearly 84% of consumers will trust a recommendation that is made through word-of-mouth. Uber took advantage of this knowledge and provided redeemable codes that friends could give to new users. Backing that with a reliable app and online presence made Uber successful.
Branding does not have to be a bore, either. In fact, companies that develop their own “personality” and let it show are likely to stick in people’s minds. Take a look at Dollar Shave Club. They came on the scene with a funny video that people liked and remembered. They shook up the traditional shaving industry and recently sold to Unilever for over a billion dollars.
Building a Digital Brand
Though many companies have built successful digital brands with different techniques, there are some similarities to their approach than can help you when planning your digital branding strategy.
First, make sure your are selling a quality product or service. The best branding strategy in the world is not going to make up for a subpar customer experience. If they are not happy with the value they receive, they won’t be repeat customers. Ask yourself what you are offering, why it is worth buying, and why a customer should buy it from you rather than anybody else.
Second, give your customers the chance to build a community around your product. Everyone loves to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Think sports team fans or die-hard band followers. People find enjoyment in sharing a collective experience. Dollar Shave did this well, they are their own club after all. AmEx did this by creating their own online community forum. Evaluate your service or product and get creative with ways you can encourage your customers to feel a part of a larger community.
Lastly, engage with the community that has been created. And then engage with them again. Get their feedback. Ask them questions. Make them a part of the conversation when it comes to your brand. The better you know your audience, the stronger your brand will be.
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