A brand is a concept that is based on customers' perception of what the brand's values are. Your customer’s perception of your brand is based on their actual experiences both online and offline with your brand, from the initial brand awareness to their interactions with your brand. Every time your customer / user interacts with your brand, the experience needs to be positive, engaging and reflective of your brand values in order to create an emotional bond with your brand.
Digital branding is part of an integrated branding strategy and it includes the following elements:
1. Brand name
For brand recognition, it is necessary for your brand name to be included in your domain name / URL. Your domain name is your digital brand. The first step in creating your digital brand is to conduct a search to see whether your brand name, desired web address is available. You can search for and register your domain name at any domain name registrar and web hosting company. You need to register all the main relevant domains to your business including .com, .co.uk, .eu. to prevent your brand from being hijacked in the future by cybersquatting. To protect your brand, you can trademark your brand, to find out more visit The Intellectual Property Office.
You need to implement Seach Engine Optimisation (SEO) to ensure that your brand can appear on the first page of google search results when customers / users search for your brand. It would help to include your brand name in page title, meta description and meta keywords tags.
2. Define your brand and its values
Identify your brand promise to your customers i.e. what they should expect from your products / services. Define your brand values and Unique Selling Prepositions (USPs), how your brand can be differentiated from your competitors. The brand vision and values need to be clearly communicated to everyone including customers, prospects (potential customers), suppliers, employees and business partners.
3. Brand identity
- Brand Personality: Identify the key characteristics of your brand. If your brand was a person, what kind of personality does it have?
- Visual brand identity: It is advisable to work with a freelance designer or consultancy to design your visual brand identity including logo, typography, colours and graphic elements. Defining your brand guidelines will help to ensure consistency across all channels.
- Brand tone of voice: It is recommended to work with a freelance copywriter or consultancy to define your brand tone voice that reflects your brand persona and to develop guidelines of how to communicate with your target audience.
- Brand Strapline / tagline: It is recommended that you use a short phrase / statement which is simple and memorable. For example Nike uses the strapline, “Just do it”
All your brand identity elements need to be applied consistently across all channels including your website, marketing materials, stationary, packaging, etc. The branding guru, MartinLindstrom explained the concept of “smashable” where each brand element should be distinctive in order to have a strong brand identity.
4. Brand awareness and communication
To create brand awareness, it is recommended that you have an integrated marketing plan and to develop an integrated online and offline marketing communication campaign.
Digital technology is evolving at great speed and you could greatly benefit by keeping up to date and utilising the various channels and digital tools that are appropriate to your brand, to have digital brand presence to create your brand awareness and to communicate with your customers in order to develop strong and loyal customer relationships.
For digital word-of-mouth brand awareness, all businesses would greatly benefit from having a presence on social media. However, it is important for small businesses with limited resources to focus on the social media platforms that are most relevant or appropriate to their brand in order to communicate with their customers and potential customers.
Digital brand communication also includes email marketing. You need to offer your customers an opt-in option to receive this type of communication and to allow them to choose their preferences including frequency and the type of information as well as the option to opt-out / unsubscribe.
All your content andbrand communication messages need to be consistent across all channels. To protect your branded content you need to include a clear copyright notice.
Digital Brand Equity
Digital Brand equity can be defined as the awareness of your website and your customers’ / users’ perception of your website. The key factor for building your brand equity is trust. Other important factors for building digital brand equity include:
- Marketing communication and customer / user experience: The direct experience of using a website has a stronger influence over the customer’s / user’s perception of the brand than the user’s perception that is based on advertising and marketing communication only. The customer experience defines the relationship with your brand.
- Website design and features: A website that is easy to use and to navigate with relevant and up-to-date content, providing an interactive and personalised experience that reflects the brand values creates a positive customer / user perception and thus enhance its brand equity.