Branding is all about creating a sense of consistency, in your face to face interactions with clients, and in the image you portray on your website, and in your social networks. Here are five ways to integrate your brand online.
Keep your brand personality top of mind. Branding is about identifying what your small business or personal image stands for, and communicating that image to your customers every time they encounter your brand, online and in person.
Stay on message by creating a “brand board” that you’ll hang in your office or next to your workspace, so you’re always reminded of your brand’s unique elements, including color palettes, fonts, quotes, imagery, and even, adjectives that support your brand message.
By keeping all of these important factors that contribute to your online brand top of mind, it will be easier to be consistent, and on message, whether you’re writing a blog post, a social media update, sharing a pic on Instagram, writing an email, or choosing images for your website.
Know what customers see. Think about the search terms that a customer might type into Google to find your brand and examine what generates your website—and what doesn’t. If you’re unhappy with your page rank, start a strategy to build your online brand reputation. Write quality blog content to help boost your page rankings on search engines (or hire a professional to do the job if writing isn’t your forte!) Seek out opportunities to be connect with industry leaders by reading blogs of those you admire and following them on social media; interact with them by leaving thoughtful comments, and joining in their social media conversations.
Join a site like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which connects journalists with the sources they seek for stories, to secure potential press opportunities that could align you with media outlets to boost your online brand image. Customize your Twitter background, build your LinkedIn connections and ensure that your profile is complete—including a picture. Formulate a strategy to what you pin and share on Pinterest. Even seemingly insignificant choices, like the terms you use in social media updates, or the colors you integrate into blog posts offer an opportunity to support your online brand. For example, a trendy brand that proclaims to be young and hip might use “punchy” language in social media and should have a strong presence on “up and coming” social media sites like Instagram; a professional business writer probably won’t enhance the brand by using a novelty font on his or website.
Fake it ‘till you make it. You don’t have to be a web developer to have a professional looking website, and it says everything about your online brand. Providers like Weebly offer free web design templates including blogging and product selling capabilities, as well as the option to upgrade to more sophisticated features for less than $10/ month.
If you lack a professional logo, Five.rr connects you with design professionals who can create one for you—for as little as five bucks! Register your domain name with a professional host (Weebly also offers hosting, as do sites like GoDaddy). Establish an email account that ends in your professional domain name as well (no AOl, Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! accounts).
If you sell products or services, consider Google Checkout , or 2Checkout, which offer affordable solutions for accepting secure credit card payments online. (One study by Javelin Strategy & Research revealed that customers are most influenced when a vendor shows a “Visa” logo compared to other payment methods, like PayPal, when it comes to perception of trust and privacy). If you send email newsletters as part of your marketing strategy, make them look professional with a free tool like MailChimp.