Your brand is more than just a logo or a tagline – it’s how people perceive your business when it’s brought up in their mind.

Learning how to build a brand holds a lot of value, yet many people neglect it when setting up their business. Branding is vital to your success (both now and in the future), so it’s worth the time and effort to get it right. Keep the following points in mind while you work to hone yours:

  1. A game-changing product or service, ineptly branded and marketed, will likely fail
  2. Products and services that are mediocre but branded expertly can still thrive
  3. Branding is not a “one and done” occurrence – rather, it’s a gradual process

Branding is an ongoing effort that requires consistency and persistence, but holds the power to impact every facet of your business. A CMO Council poll of business leaders found that 90% believe “brand persona is key to hiring new staff and keeping customers.” The equation is simple:

More return customers = greater revenue.

With that in mind, here are seven crucial steps to take in order to successfully build your brand online.

Step 1: Know Your Target Audience

a group of people at sunset talking outside by the lake

Your audience demographic may be more wide-ranging than you initially project.

No SMB can succeed without customers. To market them effectively, you need to know a bit about them – in particular, who they are, what they want and how to engage them (note: this can evolve over time).

All branding efforts begin with knowing your target audience. However, you can’t simply define them solely based on their demographics (gender, age, geographic region, etc.). You also need an idea about their preferred payment channels, so you’re set up to accommodate their preferences (such as the ability to accept credit cards).

You must also be aware of their pain points and how to fulfill their needs. Understanding your audience is the foundation of branding, so don’t speed through it. Get granular and learn as much about your audience as possible to inform your next step.

Step 2: Curate a Look

Starbucks cup on a wooden table, outdoors

There are many iconic brands out there – look to them for inspiration.

The next step of brand building is visual appeal. Your digital presence must be memorable, reflect your principles, and resonate with your target audience. You don’t need to spend a fortune – just enough to hit the mark.

Did you know that Nike’s swoosh logo cost only $35, and the last words of a serial killer inspired their “Just Do It” tagline? Branding inspiration can be drawn from anywhere, so long as it is authentic and recognizable (and ideally as iconic as that swoosh).

Your look and logo should reflect who you are, what you do, and appeal to your target audience. It should not simply be your company name in an interesting font.

Step 3: Develop a Brand Voice

young woman giving a presentation at work, smiling

Can you define what your business is all about in one elevator ride?

Award-winning brand designer Larsen said, “Brand voice is the purposeful, consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate.” Knowing how to create a brand involves defining the “personality” of your company.

Questions to ask include:

  • Do you want to come off as clever or irreverent?
  • Do you want to be serious and factual – an authoritative persona?
  • What voice is likeliest to engage your target audience?
  • How do they communicate?
  • What are the lingo, style, and buzzwords used by your target audience?

Marketers, customer service reps, sales staff, and leadership should all adopt and use the brand voice. It should become the outward-facing “language” of your business, so your target audience is incepted by your consistency.

Step 4: Understand Your Value Proposition

businessman checking his wristwatch, checking the time

It might be cliche, but time is money, and people are stingy with it.

Research from ConversionXL Institute found that a well-executed value proposition can significantly increase sales and market share, as well as differentiate you from your competitors.

Many marketers see this as the most important aspect of branding. Your unique value proposition should:

  • Define what you offer
  • Explain what you do differently
  • Express the unique benefits you bring
  • Convince customers to transact with you over other options
Tip
The same study suggests that you have just a few seconds to grab and sway your target audience. Try and nail down your value proposition using only a simple headline and a few bulleted points, and then implement this message across your website.

Step 5: Craft a Multi-Channel Approach

desk with a laptop, blog opened to a designer's brand

Everyone has a blog these days. How do you make yours stand out?

Multi-channel marketing is the practice of engaging existing and potential customers across both direct and indirect channels; over many mediums, devices, and networks. It’s essential to a thorough and effective branding strategy.

Three out of four companies brand themselves across a multi-channel spectrum, which includes:

  • Social media
  • Custom or curated videos
  • Blogs
  • Mobile applications and advertisements

Be sure to leverage your employee influence while building a brand. Research from Social Employee Advocacy showed that brand messages are 561% more impactful when shared by employees rather than peddled by official brand reps.

Step 6: Establish Credibility

hand holding an unlocked iPhone

Apple is all about ease-of-use – not a bad thing to be known for.

Your branding efforts must be both captivating and credible. You demonstrate trustworthiness as a brand by:

  • Providing an excellent product or service
  • Conducting yourself with transparency
  • Offering a meaningful customer service experience

Your marketing practices must also convey your company’s credibility. Your branded content is the perfect tool to demonstrate integrity.

Tip
Marketing your brand with custom blogs and videos is particularly effective in this effort.

Demand Metric data shows that brands with blogs generate 67% more leads. Key Difference Media found that almost 80% of consumers believe that organizations that create custom content are “interested in building good relationships” with customers. Such data demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of branding activities that engage and pull-in your target audience (rather than simply hammering them with your message).

Step 7: Evolve and Nurture Your Brand

small green plant in a white pot on a wooden table

We all start from somewhere, and growth only comes with proper nourishment.

Finally, it’s critical that you don’t view branding as a one-and-done deal. It’s not something you simply check off and move on from. No matter your niche, product or service, the marketplace is in a perpetual state of motion, so your branding efforts must be continuously refined.

The underlying principles and core of your business may be a constant, but how you tell your story and how your customers interact with you is part of an ongoing brand experience – one that must be refreshed frequently to keep it engaging and on-point.

Conclusion

Building your brand online is a complex process, but it’s also an invaluable part of operating a successful business. While laying out brand strategy and identifying your target audience, remember to consider how your customers will want to pay for your product or service.

For instance, maybe they want convenient recurring billing, or perhaps credit cards are more up their alley. Either way, you’ll need a dependable merchant service provider to ensure your customers are happy. Believe it or not, the checkout process is part of your brand too.

About the Author

Geoff Scott is a Payments Consultant for Motile LLC, where he strives to connect users across the internet with processing solutions for their small businesses. He also loves Thai food, craft beer, and an exhilarating game of squash (when he's off the clock, of course).