Online Branding 101

June 8, 2020

What makes your brand stand out online? Why should customers choose you over another brand? And how are you communicating this information? These are three questions any visitor to your website should be able to answer within minutes of arriving.

“This is a watershed moment in the South African e-commerce market which will prompt many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to launch online shops.” MyBroadband

What is branding?

To start with, let’s talk about what we mean by branding. BC (Before Coronavirus), branding included your website, logo, business cards and storefront or offices. Now that e-commerce is booming in South Africa, an essential part of your branding is your website. Visitors to your site need to know who you are, what you offer, and why to choose you as soon as they land on your homepage. 

Finding your brand story

The simplest way to do that is to tell them. But nobody is going to fall in love with a brand that just says, “We sell products at a good price. Please choose us.” To win customers over, you need to find your brand story. Think of brands you love – OneDayOnly, Nando’s, Yuppiechef. Don’t they feel as if they have their own personality, their own flavour? That’s what a brand story gives you – a succinct way of telling customers what makes you special.

Part of your brand story is, of course, about your products or services: what made you choose to get into this line of business. Another part is about your founding story: why you decided to start your business. Perhaps you’ve turned your hobby into a business, or built it yourself, brick by brick. And the secret sauce is what sets you apart: what makes you unlike every other business. You should be able to speak about your brand’s purpose in a sentence or two: that’s your brand story.

Competitor analysis

A straightforward way of figuring out your brand story is by looking at your competitors. Who is operating in the same space and what are they offering? What are their Unique Selling Points (USPs) and how are yours different? This could be the way your website looks, the words you’ve chosen, your customer service or the product or service itself. When customers think of your business segment, you want them to think of you – how can you make that happen? It can be helpful to draw up a competitor analysis where you list your competitors, what makes them unique and how you are different.

Make your brand smashable

The idea of a smashable brand dates back to 1915 when Coca Cola asked for a bottle that would be recognisable as a Coke bottle even if it was in a hundred pieces. If you removed the logo from your website / Facebook posts / Instagram posts / newsletters / printed materials, would it still be instantly recognisable? Ideally, you want people to have a consistent experience of your brand no matter where they see it. Perhaps it’s a few seconds on social media, an article shared on email, and a Google ad, but those pieces put together form a consistent impression. They recognise your brand. As you grow your business, branding becomes even more important.

So where to begin with your online branding? Your website. You need a professional website, hosted by a reliable web hosting company that can help you achieve your business goals. You want to write meaningful content that will appeal to your customers, and ensure your SEO strategy is solid. From there, it’s a step-by-step process of crafting your brand until it’s as memorable as Nando’s and as smashable as Coke. If you need any web hosting help, we’re available day and night to answer your questions.

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