When I’m writing this blog I’ll quite often use the words company, business, and brand interchangeably. This is shockingly poor writing practice on my part, because as I’m sure you’re very well aware, not all companies have a brand, and not all brands are a company.
However, if you want to succeed in the online world of websites and social media, having a well established brand is imperative. When potential customers open their chosen browser, they’re bombarded with information, and it’s only by building a recognisable brand they can identify with that you’ll be able to cut through the noise and reach your target audience.
To further illustrate this point, imagine the Internet is like the good old British high street. Every store is competing to lure you in and convince you to buy their products. But given the choice between entering the clothes shop with a bright and interesting sign above the door, and interesting window displays, or the shop with a plain shop front and a piece of paper taped to the door with “clothes” scrawled on it, which do you think you would be more interested in?
This is precisely the difference between having an online company, and an online brand. With a brand, your customers will recognise you no matter where they see your name on the Internet; so if they bought something from your online store and then saw your logo on social media, they’ll make the link. So how does a company go about building an online company into an online brand?
- Before you project any image to your customers, you have to be perfectly clear with yourself about your intentions and plans for your business. There’s nothing worse than a company that is constantly “re-branding”, or “re-aligning their goals”. Although some evolution of the brand is normal, you should have you core mission statement pegged down before you go any further.
- Image is everything. Work with a designer, but make sure it’s someone who understands your company. Don’t be afraid to shop around, as there’s nothing more frustrating for a designer than working with a client they just don’t connect with. If anyone tries to tell you a good designer should be able to do anything, they’re probably selling something.
- Find your voice. Are you fun and playful, like Innocent? Or eloquent and refined, like The White Company? Do you use playful banter? Or keep things professional? This voice will lead the way in establishing your social media presence and your website copy.
- Cross-platform integration doesn’t have to man everything looks the same, but there should be some cohesion between your website and social media.