Digital branding is paramount to a company’s success in today's hyper-connected digital era. More than just the way a brand presents itself online, it is a creative and measurable way of building your identity in the virtual sphere. Done right, your brand strategies can draw in new customers and generate loyalty among those already with you, giving a welcome boost to your bottom line.
With brick-and-mortar businesses going through digital transformations and many new brands exclusively online, knowing how to achieve positive brand recognition has never been more crucial. But for solopreneurs and small businesses, hiring a team of digital brand architects is almost always impossible from a budgeting perspective.
That’s why at Bitrix24, we’ve put together 10 actionable tips that can give you an edge over your competitors. We’ll cover the key principles of consistency, authenticity, and uniqueness, and offer simple but effective digital branding strategies that companies of all sizes and industries can implement.
Before diving into the intricacies of brand identity and branding strategies, you first have to ask who you’re talking to. We’re not saying that the answers to these questions should inform 100% of your identity. For true authenticity, you need to be honest about what you stand for and what you can offer. However, a good knowledge of your audience is a vital tool in the development of your brand image.
With a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system, you can pull out instant reports on your users’ demographics, purchasing behavior, and online activity. But by actively contacting them, you can uncover the information you’ll need for a well-rounded brand identity: Who are we trying to reach? What are their preferences? What are they trying to achieve and what are their pain points in doing so?
Branding experts have identified strong trends toward value-based loyalty, too. Therefore, running surveys to learn about what is important to your customers is now an integral part of understanding your audience.
While digital brand architects might be a burdensome cost for fledgling businesses, expert advice is often the best way of getting a clear roadmap ahead — and cheaper than hiring a full-time brand manager. Digital brand architects specialize in creating a consistent, authentic, and unique brand, and ensure that every touchpoint aligns with core brand values and objectives.
If you’re new to the idea of branding, a digital brand architect will provide a framework for you to uncover your own digital identity. Rather than imposing ideas that might not sit right with your company, they guide you through the process of building a brand, allowing you to contribute your market knowledge, values, and personality. While calling in the specialists isn’t totally necessary, they do breathe a sense of confidence into your branding journey as you know you haven’t been victim to beginner’s blind spots.
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Now you’ve got a solid understanding of your audience and perhaps some third-party help, it’s time to start reflecting internally. As the first of three pillars of digital branding, developing your brand uniqueness means taking an honest look at what you can offer, what your customers love, and what sets you apart. Your uniqueness could land anywhere on a broad spectrum including:
Being a family business
Offering unbeatable customer service
Helping B2B clients expand
Using sustainable materials
Providing international insights
If you begin your digital branding journey with a niche that isn’t true to your company, your customers will quickly see you’re trying to be something you’re not. Therefore, take advice from trusted colleagues and customer feedback forms so you can get a true picture of what you are, not what you want to be.
Once you’ve identified your niche, you open up the door for how to weave it into every aspect of your brand identity. We’ll offer some clear examples later in this article, but consider how to promote your niche through your product features, your brand story, and your marketing collaterals.
Second in our trio of digital branding pillars is authenticity, which is key to creating trust and connection among your client base. In an age where information is so readily available and values are prized so highly, today’s savvy customers are unforgiving if businesses don’t live up to their word.
In the same self-reflective way as you found your organization’s niche, you need to take a deep dive into which values truly align with your company culture. Classic examples of brand values include supporting local charities or committing to net zero emissions. To find yours, ask yourself the following questions:
Why was the brand founded?
What change does it aim to bring to the world?
What value-driven actions have you already taken?
Working with colleagues to create your brand’s mission, vision, and purpose documents is a great way of clarifying your authenticity. However, you need to apply a hyper-critical eye to what you say, because your customers will be doing the same. But the result is worth the effort. Authentic brands go beyond simple transactions and develop valuable, lasting relationships with their customer base.
Armed with your brand uniqueness and authenticity, it’s time to look at the final pillar: Consistency. It is all too easy to throw away your niche and values when times get tough, but this is catastrophic from a digital branding perspective. It erodes the hard-earned trust you have built with your customers and can cause irreparable reputational damage. The solution is to embed your niche and values into a coherent, consistent brand voice, which demands a strategic approach.
A brand voice is more than choosing a formal or informal tone. It is about instilling certain emotions in every customer interaction. These emotions should be inspired by your niche and values, so make sure to highlight what makes you stand out. And while you’re aiming for brand consistency, you will need to adapt the tone depending on the channel. Social media posts can be more playful, with white papers being more authoritative, all while sharing the same underlying brand voice and identity.
To guarantee consistency in your digital branding, you’ll need a go-to resource that new recruits and stalwarts can turn to in testing moments. Your brand guidelines document goes beyond your brand voice to encompass the essence of what digital branding is for your company.
The benefits of a brand guidelines document include:
Brand recognition: The more integrated and consistent your brand is, the more recognizable your company becomes in a busy marketplace.
Consistency across teams: Marketing campaigns, customer service training, sales strategies, and even office design can all use your brand guidelines.
Consistency with external collaborators: When working with external providers, guidelines ensure that all your work will align with your brand distinctiveness.
As a final point, your brand guidelines are only effective if they are easily accessible and understood. Therefore, keep a master copy on a shared, cloud-based drive and run training sessions to answer any difficult concepts — more on that next.
Your brand is only as strong as the people behind it, so internal knowledge management is a key factor in drilling down the what and the why of your brand.
Start by running company-wide workshops that address what digital branding is in the context of your company. Of course, each department represents your brand in a different way, but it is valuable to run mixed sessions so individuals can see how the core messages are applied across the company. These workshops should use engaging examples, quizzes, and Q&A sessions to really clarify your brand identity, values, and voice.
However, training isn’t a one-and-done process. You’ll also need to create an easy-to-navigate online database for managers and employees to access the same materials when necessary. As your brand evolves, so should your training. So, regularly update your materials and run supplementary sessions to maintain that consistency.
To achieve brand consistency, you can’t allow for much improvisation in what you put out into the world. Whether it’s design guidelines for an external social media manager or a press pack for the local paper, it is your responsibility to provide approved visual collaterals for consistent brand recognition.
Here are a few golden rules to follow when creating marketing collaterals:
Use consistent visual elements: Each part of your imagery should be unmistakably you. This means consistent colors, fonts, and artistic motifs.
Reflect your brand values: Collaterals should include items such as infographics that highlight your brand authenticity and your dedication to your values.
Adaptable to each platform: Without options for each platform and format, you open the door to rushed, improvised imagery. So, create collaterals for specific uses and update your folders when new requests arise.
Analyze the effectiveness of your collaterals: It’s unlikely you’ll create the ideal branding straight away, so run periodic A/B tests to gradually improve conversions.
Until now, we’ve focused largely on the behind-the-scenes of digital branding, but finding your brand image is just the start. Smart branding strategies are where your background work aligns with business goals and audience preferences. Below is a set of examples of how to turn brand identity into strategy.
Content marketing: Creating authoritative, SEO-optimized material for your website is a great way of bringing in new customers by answering burning in alignment with your brand.
Wise collaborations: By taking the time to research potential partners who stand for the same values, you can reach entire new customer bases while staying consistent with your digital branding.
Community management: Reacting to relevant world events, engaging with your users, and being responsive to feedback are all extremely effective ways of building loyalty among your customer base.
Despite all the work you’ve put into your digital branding, it’s important to be open to change. Shifting audience preferences, societal changes, and emerging technologies all have a huge impact on your work, and stubbornly staying in the past is not an effective strategy.
That said, rebranding is something that should be taken seriously, and here’s how to approach it:
Identify the need: Monitor changes in your audience, analyze your business performance, and be honest and introspective to spot when a rebrand might be necessary.
Conduct research: Look at market trends and consult your audience to see if your evolution aligns with that of your customers.
Maintain your brand authenticity: Adapt your visuals and voice, but avoid massive shifts in your values, which will be seen as cynical and lead to reputational damage.
Communicate your change: Once you’ve come to the end of your rebranding journey, communicate the reasons behind it and your future vision to get your customers on board.
Remember that a digital rebranding can breathe new life into your company, but avoid changing for purely financial gain. While it may offer an injection in the short term, emerging generations will increasingly punish companies that switch their core values.
The importance of digital branding needs no introduction, but many small businesses and solopreneurs lack the tools and know-how to leverage it. This article has given you the strategies, and Bitrix24 gives you the tools.
From an all-in-one business platform, you can:
Create a website to flaunt your brand
Learn from your customers through your CRM
Store your branding documents in a cloud-based drive
Schedule training sessions on shared calendars
Run brand-driven projects and analyze their success
So take your head out of the sand! Sign up for Bitrix24 today and make digital branding your superpower.
To spread your name and enhance brand awareness, use marketing channels such as social media, SEO, paid advertising, and email campaigns. Match your media to your message with a blend of authoritative articles and dynamic, engaging videos.
Consistency is crucial in building a brand’s identity as it ensures a recognizable and reliable brand experience. Over time, this creates a sense of trust and loyalty among your customer base.
Authenticity is key to a brand’s trustworthiness and loyalty because customer bases are becoming increasingly value-driven. Companies seen to be greenwashing or cynically aligning themselves with social justice causes can expect a sharp drop in business and severe reputational damage.
A brand makes itself distinct through:
Businesses can achieve distinction by fully understanding their audience and their niche, and consistently expressing their uniqueness.