If you’re someone that thinks of livestock when you hear the word branding, you may be a bit behind the times. Or you’re an actual cowboy. Either way, some simple tips on branding your business and building customer loyalty may help.
Here are some thoughts to get you started …
The Branding: The primary reason to brand your cattle was to help make them more easily identifiable. The same goes for corporate logos, advertising, and marketing campaigns. And, with the growth of online marketing, branding has become an important part of marketing even the smallest of businesses. Ultimately, having an online presence that is consistent, easily identified, and interactive will help you find new customers and keep current clients coming back. The trick is having your info where it can be easily found and making sure it’s consistent on all of your Internet properties, whether it’s a blog, Facebook page, or business website. Branding is about being identified and remembered. And a social-media campaign focused on keeping all the details, logos, and contact info consistent and presentable is one that will be more easily found online and more memorable.
The Messaging: Branding is a pretty simple concept. You want people to recognize your business and feel a sense of familiarity with you. What you do with that brand, however, is a bit more complicated. Sending the right message is about content. Once you’ve got your info, photos, and logos in place and your pages looking the way you want them, you have to have content that keeps people coming back to your page, to make it stand out from the rest of the Internet noise. For example, if you’re in the cupcake business, you don’t want a page that’s purely self-promotional and a bore for anyone other than you and your employees. You want a page that makes people think about how much they love cupcakes and would love to buy some. In other words, you want to share content that’s interesting, educational, and not directly self-promotional. In this particular example, you’d likely want to have some large, attractive pictures of cupcakes and stories touting their health benefits and how they’re particularly delicious this time of year. In other words, info that makes it more likely that visitors will feel familiar with your brand and a desire to do business with you.
If you’ve ever thought enough not to wear overalls to a business meeting, you know something about personal branding. Which is to say, branding isn’t just for corporate logos, high-profile advertising campaigns, and big-budget marketing efforts. At its root, branding is about how you present yourself, whether you’re a multinational corporation or in business for yourself. And these days, the Internet and social media provide professionals with more control over their personal brand than ever before.
Here are some tips for building your brand online …
Use Your Name: Buy a domain name in your name. In other words, www.yournamehere.com. Whether you’re setting up a static website or a blog, having your own domain name – or something close to it – gives you a home base. Generally, blogs rank higher in search engines and provide an ability to communicate regularly with your contacts. But whatever you do, put it in your name. Setting up a blog, Twitter or Facebook page under your company’s name means, if you switch jobs at any point, you’ll have to reestablish your brand with new pages and profiles. Setting up a network of pages in your name will allow you to build your own brand and provide potential clients and partners a place to form a first impression.
Create Some Content: Once you’ve created the destination, you’ll need to create a reason for people to visit. That means content. And content, in this case, should be thought of in terms of presentation. Before you post anything consider how it’ll be viewed by potential business that may stumble upon your blog or Facebook page. Use your online properties to promote your professionalism, expertise, and attention to detail. That means, in addition to posting relevant and interesting, industry-related information on your blog, you should also have a professional photo and bio, along with easily located contact info.
Sweat The Small Stuff: Building your personal brand means paying attention to even the smallest details. Keep things linked and consistent. Setting up pages under your own name and making sure your contact, bio, and photo are updated – and the same on each page or profile – will prevent guesswork. Litter the Internet with multiple email addresses, out-of-date web pages, and 12 separate phone, fax, and cell numbers and risk losing possible business contacts to confusion. Also, if you have a business blog, use its RSS feed to send your posts to any of your other business-related social media sites. Having a network of online properties that present a consistent representation of who you are personally and professionally will establish your brand, along with your business, online.
The Ibis Network / www.theibisnetwork.com