Your brand is one of your greatest assets; it is what your customers know you by, affiliate with and hopefully aspire to be like or a part of.
Your brand is so much more than choosing which type of logo you want – and yes this may sound like marketing speak, however, disregard at your peril – it is a look, a feeling a sense of belonging and association that cannot and should not be replicated by any other brand in the market.
The feeling you have when you see a Reebok running gear ad will not be the same as you get when looking at a 2XU or Under Armour running gear ad. Why? Because the brands are not created equally or to be the same. Don’t get me wrong; there are millions of ‘me too’ brands out there that are looking to emulate the brand sensation of another successful market leading brand – you may be reading this and thinking, “Yeah, that’s me,” and good luck to you.
The key a successful brand is that they have identified a gap in the marketplace and filled it. This may not be with a product that has never existed before, but a feeling, sensation or intrinsic need that no other brand can do – so how do you do it online?
Let's take a look at how to drive you brand online and getting noticed, as there is more than meets the eye when breaking through the noise!
Get a designer
Ok, so you have an idea, or you may have even created a logo – do you know why? Do you stand out from the crowd? So let's unpack this a little bit here, just because you have a pretty logo, it is not a brand.
There are two types of designers out there, designers – who are wonderful and work to a brief they are provided, within guidelines and produce excellent work – and creatives – who take a bunch or words, ideas, and concepts and turn it into a fully constructed, architecturally designed brand. Don’t get them confused.
A designer is the person who creates your marketing collateral, your ads and your trade flyers, your creative will take your ideas and give them a personality. This is the first step in getting your brand to stand out from the pack in the infinitely crowed marketplace.
If you need a designer or creative, ensure you seek them out, ask for portfolios or examples of work they have done before in taking a logo or previous design and bringing it to life.
Get a marketing plan
Now you have a brand, you need a plan. A marketing plan is so much more than hollow words on a page.
A good marketing plan will give you customer insights, who they are, what they are, who they like, how they shop and what other factors may effect your brand's ability to get out in the market place as you would like.
It should then give you a comprehensive marketing strategy with outlines of the tactics on what will take your business further, week-by-week for a 12 to 18 month period. Marketing experts or strategies often create the plans and should be able to pass you onto experts who can activate each part of the strategy.
For your brand's sake - get a proper website!
Too many startup companies and established businesses alike forget that in today’s ecommerce driven economy, a DIY website won't cut it for more than a few months.
Your website is your main point of contact; it is a platform in many cases which is your sole window for customers to purchase your product, so get it designed by a specialist web developer/designer so that it fits with your brand. Don’t just bang up a few images and think you have created a great website because your links work.
It will cost you more money in the end to have a web developer to come in, take down your DIY website and create a proper Word Press site, which allows you to edit, update and change things easily, however, provides you with a structured, professional and commerce driven platform that cant easily be replicated – remember, you need to stand out.
In addition to this, when a professional developer is working with your website, they will take your brand and build the SEO into the site from the ground up, not as an afterthought – you need to give yourself every chance!
Understand who your market is – target them and not everyone else!
Ok, so you now have a brand, you have a plan and you have a website – and presumably all the social media sites as well of course – so what next?
Who are you talking to? What does your customer look like? Similar to the movie Avatar, you need to work in this space – what does your customer look like? John, 45, two kids and married? Jane, 25, single? The good news is if your marketing plan developer was indeed an expert you should have a clear picture of what these people look like.
In order to make your brand stand out, you need to compete in your space, not everyone else’s. So don’t put your Facebook advertising nationally if you are only based on Sydney. Don’t put SEO terms that are not relevant etc. Again, marketing experts are trained at developing customer profiles and building on them for you, so where you can afford it, professional advice does pay.
Don’t just do what everyone else does
It pays to stand out and be targeted. So before you go and reinvent the wheel, there is a lot of things that should always be done online to get your brand to stand out, these include:
- SEO from the ground up
- SEO-rich content with keywords
- Social media links and activity
- Affiliate marketing
- Digital advertising
- Growth hacking
All of the above are strategies, but how do you stand out from the pack specifically is down to your employed marketing expert – and your specific requirements.
Do things a little different, if everyone else is going left, then you turn right! The one key recommendation here is, that if you are not a marketing expert, you may need help. Don’t do this alone if you don’t know what you are doing. Remember, that if you are a startup or business owner, your time is better spent doing what you do best than doing what others do best.
Re-use content where possible
One really cool trend to get your brand noticed is re-using content across multiple platforms. Although this is effectively a ‘growth hack’ by definition, this is a really effective tool to grow your brand.
You may run a webinar, which has audio, a presentation, video and Q&A segments all within a 1-hour period. Presumably, everything in your webinar has your brand all over it. Why take time in creating it again for another platform? Cut the content out of one platform you are using and use it for another.
For example, you take the presentation, add a little more content if needed – and submit on SlideShare. You take the Audio and create a podcast to share on LinkedIn. You then take the video and share on Vimeo or other video sharing sites. You have shared your brand across four different platforms to more than the 20 people in your webinar by 10 or even 1000 fold – with no extra work!
The key to getting your brand noticed online is to differentiate yourself. You need to truly understand what a brand is, that it is so much more than a logo. When you're a startup costs are always a consideration there is no question about that, however, if you engage the services of freelance experts for your marketing, design, developer you can have a pool of talented experts at your fingertips without having to engage anyone full time, just as and when they are needed.
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