Digital branding is critical for any business with an online presence. Your digital brand, after all, defines how your customers engage with your business. Without a digital brand, you can’t promote your products or services successfully.
Unfortunately, some companies don’t have a well-defined digital identity. If you’re one of those, don’t worry. That’s where this article can help you. It will discuss everything you ought to know about digital branding.
But before we get into that, let’s answer this question: What exactly are the key differences between digital branding and digital marketing?
Digital Branding vs. Digital Marketing: What You Should Know
Digital marketing is the collection of resources, processes and techniques you employ to promote your product, service or company. In this case, consider marketing to be the activities you engage in to communicate with your customers and persuade them to purchase your goods or services.
Branding, on the other hand, covers things like the tone of your content and the fonts you use in your marketing material. It is the process of identifying who you are as a company, your mission, ideals and what sets you apart. It is about how you present your company.
Despite their differences, digital marketing and digital branding coexist. The Venn diagram below illustrates how exactly that coexistence works:
Source: Branding Compass
But let’s go back to digital branding. The question now is this: Why should you be concerned about it in the first place?
The answer is simple. Digital branding can yield numerous benefits:
- Brand Recognition: Consumers recognize the content or information that your company creates. If you have great brand recognition, people will know what product or services you provide by simply seeing your logo
- Improve Omni-channel Presence: Having a clear digital brand will help ensure you provide coherent messaging across your various digital marketing channels. That is important for the customer experience
- Establish Credibility: Effective digital branding can help you establish credibility with your audience. That is especially important in competitive industries
Remember, people and companies tend to do business with brands they trust. Marketing can help you break through the line and get your brand in front of the right people. A solid digital brand, on the other hand, will help you convert those prospects into customers.
4 Essentials of Digital Branding
Creating a digital brand can be difficult. But if you know the essential elements of digital branding, the execution can come easily. Here are the four essentials of digital branding that will help you establish a reputation your customers trust:
1. Brand message
The starting point of your digital branding is your brand message.
Every great brand has a core brand message: a brief statement that explains why the brand is important, what it stands for and how it differs from competitors. That brand message is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It’s how you want your customers to think of you.
In simple terms, your brand message should:
- Communicate the value you offer. That could be a competitive price, great customer support, etc.
- Reflect the reality of your business
- Be consistent. The messaging you use should be consistent across all of your marketing channels
So, if you haven’t already defined your USP, do a brainstorming session. Think about what makes your company unique that your customers find important. For example, you might choose to highlight your excellent customer service and competitive pricing.
You should also make a list of secondary factors that make your company unique that customers might care about. For instance, you might have a fun office culture and hire oddball staff. Alternatively, you might have a straight-laced company culture. For this, you can have everyone come to the office wearing a suit and tie, or consider punctuality as important, among other things.
These secondary factors are important because some companies and individuals want to work with businesses that share their values. Just look at the statistics. According to the Harvard Business Review, 64% of customers connect with a brand when it shares their beliefs.
But that’s not all you should do to define your brand message. Remember, too, that your brand messaging should reflect the reality of your business. If you find an issue, you can work on audience perceptions of your company by improving your service. For example, improving customer service response times and first contact resolution will make your claim that you offer great customer service more believable.
Once you find your voice, your company's subsequent brand marketing messages should be shaped by that core brand message.
2. Brand assets
Alongside defining your brand message, you need to create brand assets.
Your brand assets are what most people think about when you talk about branding strategies. The brand assets include your logo, the fonts you use on your marketing material, the size of the fonts, the color schemes, imagery and more.
In other words, your brand assets are what make people visually recognize your company. It's how people can remember your brand. It also serves as your business’s public face.
But what kinds of brand assets should you create? You can technically create any brand asset for digital branding. They, however, should always reflect your brand values. For example, if you are a company offering legal services to corporate clients, you probably want a formal word mark, combination mark or letter mark logo.
For effective digital branding, you need to create an agreed resource of visual assets for your brand. Then use these assets across all of your marketing material and communication channels.
3. Brand guidelines
You should also set out your brand guidelines and style guides. Your brand guidelines define how you engage with your brand. They cover things like the tone of voice you use when communicating with your audience across various channels.
For example, you might decide that you want to be very informal when communicating with your audience. So, when creating a message for them, you should take exactly that into account.
AppSumo is a company that seems to have taken this approach.
The result? The emails they send to subscribers all have this informal, easy-going, off-hand approach.
Once you have your brand guidelines, use them to provide a consistent brand experience across all your marketing channels, too. That’s critical to ensuring familiarity with your messaging.
Brand guidelines and style guides become increasingly important as a company grows. Without these, you can never guarantee that those 500 people working for your company across 20 different countries will send out communications with the same tone. The result? You won’t be able to ensure familiarity with your messaging that is critical to effective digital branding.
4. Brand monitoring
The final think part of any digital branding campaign is your brand monitoring. There are two parts to brand monitoring:
1. Internal Reviews: You can check that the content you are producing aligns with your brand guidelines and uses the appropriate brand assets
2. External Feedback: You can check that the brand message you are transmitting to leads and customers aligns with their experience
You should have a process for internally reviewing all of the marketing material that you produce at your firm. There will be stages to this. For example, you will probably send an article to an editor to check that the quality is acceptable before publication.
Set up a periodic review of your marketing materials, too. For example, once a quarter, you might do a content audit. That audit is an opportunity to assess content and check if what you are doing is working and if the content aligns with your brand guidelines.
But all of those will be for nothing if you don’t transmit a brand message that aligns with the experience of your customers and leads. If your message is way off, you still can’t expect them to take your desired action.
That’s why you need to monitor how people engage with your brand across various marketing channels and check their feedback. For example, a public software review platform like G2 can provide a SaaS company with plenty of insights into the customer experience.
Only in this way can you identify any problems and provide an appropriate solution. After all, your brand can only be successful if customers love you.
Digital branding is critical to the success of any company. You need to understand what your brand stands for and what you want to convey from the get-go.
Your brand message is the foundation while your brand assets and brand guidelines define how people experience your brand. Together, these two factors will help make your brand instantly recognizable. Finally, monitoring ensures that your brand is known for all the right reasons.
In sum, the key to effective digital branding is to send consistent brand messages across platforms. Once you have a solid digital brand, consumers will have a better recall of your company. Your brand will stand out and will be remembered for the long haul--and your company will be on its way to success.
Nicholas Rubright is the communications specialist for Writer, an AI writing assistant designed for teams. Nicholas has previously worked to develop content marketing strategies for brands like Webex, Havenly and Fictiv.