The world has experienced a monumental digital migration in recent months and many Australian SMEs are reassessing whether their digital presence is truly up to scratch.
Making sure your business stands out online involves more than just a slick homepage. Whatever industry you’re in, a strong digital brand is vital for securing sales, but it also plays a critical role in fostering trust and connection in an age where face-to-face interactions are far from guaranteed.
Here are some simple steps to help you on your way.
1. Develop a brand blueprint
Establish who you are as a business and why you exist. Define your mission, values and messaging by asking these questions: Who is your ideal customer, and what promise do you want to make and deliver for them? How do you want people to feel about your business? Is there something that makes you unique from competitors? What do you want to achieve in 10 years, and how is that reflected in your mission statement?
Defining who you are and where you sit in the market is the first step in creating a meaningful brand. It will also inform the direction you take for your visual brand, and how you communicate with customers.
2. Create your visual identity
Your visual identity is the look and feel of your business: from your logo and colour palette to your fonts and the design of your website. If you’re unsure how to describe what you’re looking for, ask yourself more questions to help draw out the answer: are you playful or serious? Relatable or aspirational? What are other companies in your industry doing – do you want to fit in or stand out?
Figure out how you want your brand to come across to customers and then work with a professional designer to nail the visual communication that helps make that perception a reality.
3. Make it a useable tool with a brand guide
You’ll need to be able to roll your brand out across a whole range of situations so a style guide should be next on your list. This creates a single source of truth of how your brand should be represented across everything from social channels and emails to packaging and helps keep your whole team on the same page. This is important for building brand recognition, but also creates consistency, which is vital for building trust.
4. Show it off
Now you have a brilliantly executed brand, it’s time to showcase it. Your website is the first point of contact for many customers, so whether it’s an e-commerce store or a place for customers to learn more about your business, put your best foot forward and think of your website as your digital storefront.
An effective website should be simple and easy to navigate and clearly communicate your product or offering. Use your brand guidelines to streamline the design and messaging throughout each page and digital touchpoint to create a seamless user experience.
5. Leverage social media
Social media is great for amplifying your messaging, but also provides an opportunity to build a community around your brand. Social media advertising can also be an effective and inexpensive way to reach very targeted segments of customers, so think about creating great content and bringing like-minded people together around your brand.
You may have a fantastic product or service, but if your business doesn’t stand out online, you risk blending into the crowd. Just remember that digital branding isn’t just about selling; it’s about growing a passionate, loyal customer base that not only buys your products but believes in them.
Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing, 99designs