This article has been contributed by Tahha Ashraf.
To be invincible in the digital world, a brand needs to be visible.
With digitalization taking over, brand development has become significantly more important. Public opinion can make or break a brand, and there is plenty of it on the internet.
Gone are the days when people were not that vocal about their expectations and were satisfied with whatever the services they were getting. Things have changed drastically.
As at July 2020, there were 4.57 billion active internet users around the globe. And guess what! Everyone has a unique point of view. They are constantly monitoring trends on social media, and one wrong move by a brand can destroy years of marketing efforts.
The digital world expects only the best from brands. Brands need to be highly vigilant and monitor their strategies with eagle eyes.
Digital Branding vs. Traditional Branding
The key difference between digital and traditional branding is the level of competition. Back in the day, branding was expensive, and only those with plenty of resources and capital enjoyed the perks of a strong brand image.
But now, things have changed, mainly due to the abundant free marketing options available via the internet. Even the paid services of social media networks are considerably cheaper than conventional electronic media.
The availability of platforms that charge practically nothing has created a clutter of services online. This crowded marketplace has made it difficult for businesses to create a unique brand identity for themselves. Therefore, there is a dire need for unique branding strategies that can make brands stand out.
In addition to competition levels, audiences have evolved over the years. Unlike older generations, younger ones are not easily satisfied. They look for a lot more in a brand than just its offerings. The digital consumer needs to know what a brand stands for. Is it socially responsible? Is it environment friendly? Does it meet expectations? These are just more reasons that it’s not easy for a brand to survive with traditional brand development strategies.
In order to survive, branding techniques need to evolve like the consumer has. And that is the beauty of the digital age: it changes constantly. Digital branding is an essential upgrade that brands need if they want to create a unique identity for themselves.
Digital Branding Tools
John Wanamaker, known as the pioneer of marketing, said:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
But unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing has tools that can calculate ROI down to the cent.
In this article, we will just discuss the digital branding tools that can help you build a better online presence for your brand. These are some of the essentials that you need to keep in your mind while formulating a branding strategy.
A website is the most credible and vital asset in the digital world.
Just like in the traditional days, if a company had an office of their own, they were perceived as a trustable entity. Similarly, a website is the first place a potential customer visits to find out more about your brand.
Your website should complement your brand through design and content. It should include every detail about your business that a customer might like to know, from product details to all the social activities your company is a part of.
2. Social Media
Social media marketing has totally changed the dynamics of the marketing world. It’s not a monologue but a medium that promotes dialogue between a brand and its consumers. Social media marketing has allowed brands to connect with prospects every single day, which was simply impossible before.
Let’s say you have a fully functioning website with every single feature and the best UI/UX design. Even then, a potential consumer will not visit your website every day, and perhaps not every week either. With social media, it’s different.
According to the latest stats, people in the US spend an average of 2 hours and 3 minutes on social media every day. Your robust social media marketing ensures that you interact with your potential consumers on a daily basis. These digital mediums also provide paid services by which you can directly target your target audience based on their interests, demographics, and other aspects.
Social media platforms provide a perfect opportunity for businesses to showcase their brand personality to the world. Not only can you market your products, but you can also discuss social issues and trends relevant to your brand. This increases interest and engagement, and free word of mouth advertising comes as a bonus.
Marketers need to understand that social media platforms are two-way communication; they are more like a telephone call – only more personal and intense. A wise brand uses social media not to impress the audience, but instead to create an impact on them that lasts.
3. SEO Optimization
Your digital branding will be effective only if it is visible. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your brand to rank successfully in search engine results, for instance, on Google and Bing. SEO not only makes a brand more visible on the web, but it also builds trust, authority, and credibility of a brand.
Gone are the days when stuffing keywords into every sentence was the best way to improve rankings. Things are now different, and marketers need to provide genuine value to readers around keywords that are relevant to their brand.
Keywords are those words or phrases that prospects search online to look for information, services, and products. Basing useful content on these words can help your website rank higher on search engines results pages (SERPs).
An informative blog on a business website can be a magnet for high web traffic. You won’t necessarily be producing content to sell your product or service but rather, the experience attached to your goods.
Off-page SEO practices are those that take place away from your own website to boost its position on SERPs and build its credibility. The most common practice is building strong backlinks from other sites to your own. You can do this via guest posting, creating high-quality infographics that are likely to be shared by others, and mentioning influencers on your blog.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the real deal when it comes to building brand awareness. It’s an inbound marketing technique, which, unlike traditional advertising, attracts consumers to brands rather than requiring brands to chase after consumers.
Content marketing focuses on creating relevant and valuable content for the target audience. The content produced doesn’t sell the product directly, but it develops a strong consumer connection, which boosts sales in the long run.
To be successful in the digital world, brands need to create a strong bond with their audience. This can only happen if a brand addresses issues other than their own products, which their target market has an interest in.
Brands that are effective on social media don’t simply share their products and services on Facebook, Instagram, and other digital mediums. Rather, they share content that is funny, entertaining, informative, or relatable to them.
Only this type of content has the power to create an organic reach that can surpass the need for paid ad campaigns. Just one viral video and you will get millions of views in a short period of time.
5. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is also a gift of digitalization. In this type of marketing, a brand teams up with a social media influencer, who has an established following, to endorse the brand.
According to the stats, almost 80% of marketers around the globe partnered up with influencers back in 2015. The approach can be helpful in brand development, particularly if your brand is new.
Digital branding strategies are considered incomplete without including social influencers. Nine-year-old Ryan Kaji has 27 million YouTube subscribers to his channel where he posts videos about toy reviews. Due to the boy’s huge following, brands like Pocket Watch and Bonkers Toys have collaborated with him.
There are some factors you need to keep in mind when selecting a social media influencer.
- The person must be directly related to your brand’s endorsed lifestyle. For example, if you are a fitness-related brand, only consider collaborating with those social media influencers who are fitness enthusiasts themselves.
- You need to analyse the number of followers they have on their social media page because it will have a direct impact on the reach of the campaign.
- Perhaps more important is the influencer’s engagement. Carefully assess their followers’ interactions and if possible, conversions.
- Ensure that the influencer is popular on the specific platform you’ll e using for your campaign. For instance, they may have a large followership solely on Instagram but if your audience is on Facebook as well, you’ll need to consider an additional influnecer for that platform.
Also consider the type of influencer that will work best for your brand.
These influencers have 1,000 to 90,000 followers. They will charge the least amount of the bunch, but obviously, their reach is limited. The upside is that their followers may be more engaged and may generate higher conversions.
Macro-influencers have hundreds of thousands of followers and are mainly related to a specific niche such as fitness, food or fashion.
Celebrities that have millions of followers across most social media platforms are called mega-influencers. They will cost you a premium because their reach is exceptional. They are used as brand ambassadors who reinforce brand messages.
Why Is Digital Branding Essential?
Digital Media Humanizes The Brand
People are not influenced by products or services, but instead are inspired by stories and personalities. Traditional marketing may have somewhat associated human traits with brands, but digital branding has totally humanized brands.
Brand development in the digital era includes branding strategies that have given voices to brands, one of the most prominent features of a human being.
The ability of a brand to connect with its prospects has only been possible due to digital branding. Brands can now communicate with the masses in real-time. By successfully addressing the latest trends, brands all over the globe have created a special influence over their audiences.
Digital Makes a Brand Omnipresent
Although the digital world is technically enclosed inside our electronic devices and is limited to our displays, we almost completely live within a digital landscape.
An average internet user spends hours every day browsing the internet. With the variety of social media platforms available, even if a viewer misses your brand on one, you have the opportunity to hook them on the other.
It’s almost impossible for a brand to go unnoticed in the digital realm. All the services available, from Google Adwords to Facebook Ad Manager, will ensure that your target audience sees your ads.
Digital Makes A Brand’s Voice Heard
With a mix of inbound marketing, digital branding helps brands connect with the world on an emotional level.
A customer who is emotionally involved with a brand will remain loyal and believe in everything that a brand has to offer. There is a sense of understanding that has developed between both parties where the customer thinks that he is being cared for, and in return, they listen to what the brand has to say.
In a nutshell, digital branding is much more than just creating an online presence. It’s a new way for brands to engage target audiences and develop an emotional connection with them to establish a loyal consumer base.
Loyal customers are important in digital media because they not only buy your products; they also have a strong connection with your services and believe in your brand vision. A happy customer means free word of mouth marketing all over the digital landscape; Reviews, recommendations and testimonials add a significant amount of trust and credibility to the brand.
A company that lacks an online presence is a car with no fuel; No matter how appealing the car is, it is not going anywhere. Digital branding is the fuel that will race you towards success.