During the course of my 31 years of life, the internet has gone from being a cool, new concept to becoming the central hub of everyday life. It used to be a luxury, but now it’s a necessity (well, for those of us who don’t live in abandoned coal mines, anyway). This is especially true for entrepreneurs.
The internet has opened doors for aspiring entrepreneurs in a way that nothing else ever had before. And although that’s a great thing, it’s also the reason why competition, in nearly every industry, has increased drastically. Nowadays, it’s not enough to simply exist online. To truly compete in any industry, you must present your brand in a way that’s digitally irresistible, while also ensuring that your brand’s digital foundation is solid and secure.
Regardless of your experience in the world of business, the pressure to compete online is daunting and a little scary. If only you had some sort of digital brand building guide to help you navigate this crucial process… Well, now you do!
Digital Brand Development consists of the following stages: Conception, Acquisition, Construction, Launch, Growth & Maintenance
Purpose & Personality
Your brand should offer a service/product that you are uniquely qualified to provide and that you’re genuinely passionate about. Find the commonalities between your expertise and passions.
Consider ways in which you or your product are uniquely qualified to solve a problem within your field and/or enhance the lives of your customers. Once you’ve found that one solution that people need and that you’re uniquely qualified to deliver, you’ve found your purpose.
Next, ask yourself how you want to present your brand and how you want people to see it. Because your brand is (or should be) a reflection of you, think of your brand as a person and define its personality. How does it feel? What’s the tone? What sort of emotions does it carry and inspire? How do you want people to feel when they think of your brand?
Carefully consider all the aspects of your brand’s concept (what is it all about? why does it matter? where is it going? how will it get there?) and unite them into a single, unified message.
Customers & Competitors
Who do you envision your ideal customer/client to be? Create a detailed profile of your ideal customer to represent your target market. This is an important part of the process because every other part of this process should be done with your ideal customer in mind.
In addition to knowing who your target market is, it’s also crucial to know and understand your competitors. To do this, research your brand concept (on Google) and find out who is currently offering something similar to your market (i.e. your competitors). Create a list of your top 5-10 competitors (include relevant info and stats for each competitor).
Identity & Style
This part of the process focuses on the aesthetic/style aspects of your brand. Your brand should have a style all its own and every associated asset (whether physical or digital) should clearly represent your brand style. It’s critical to maintain a uniformed and easily recognizable presence everywhere your brand exists.
The first step to ensuring consistent branding is to create a comprehensive style guide (keep it updated if additions or alterations are made to your brand’s style).
A style guide must include:
- Color Palette (w/ swatches and color codes) – Fonts (i.e. Serif, Sans Serif, Cutive Mono, …)
- Typography (font sizes & weights for H1, H2, subtitles, normal/body, captions, etc.)
- Logo (standard version, monochromatic version, and any other logo variant required)
- Favicon (often a truncated version of the logo
- Optional: patterns, graphics/images, palette usage guidelines, “mood” pieces, etc.
During this stage, you’ll need to decide on which digital assets your brand needs and acquire them.
Although there are many different digital assets that can be useful for specific niches, here are the most important digital assets that ALL BRANDS MUST HAVE:
- Domain Name
- Email (using your domain name)
- Google Webmaster & Analytics accounts
- Social Media accounts (top 2-3 platforms proven to attract your ideal customers)
- Email Subscription Service account
Once you’ve acquired the necessary digital assets for your brand, it’s time to construct the framework.
First, you need to design your website or have someone design it for you. Remember to maintain uniformed branding throughout every page and piece of your new site. IMPORTANT: be sure to add social share buttons liberally and also, incorporate email sign-up opportunities on your website pages.
Next, create at least 3 pieces of high-quality, super relevant content for your website’s blog.
After that, carry your brand style over to the social media platforms you selected and setup your SM profile pages to thoroughly reflect your brand.
Make sure you’ve setup your Google webmaster and analytics accounts so that you can monitor your upcoming launch success.
IMPORTANT: Once you have built the framework by setting up your assets, be sure to check over and test EVERYTHING. Make sure it all looks and works as it should. It’s a good idea to have at least two people do this, as an added layer of assurance.
Once all your brand assets are setup and working perfectly, it’s time to launch!
This is where your 3 pieces of new blog content come in. You’ll use your new content to share through social media. Create sm posts linking to your new website content through your brand’s sm pages, then use your personal sm account to share the linked content with your social media connections.
In addition to sharing the new content, you can simply invite your social media connections to visit your brand pages and website.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. This is a big deal! Don’t be shy, ask everyone to show support by visiting your new site.
Growth & Maintenance
From here on out, the goal is to maintain the ground you gain, while also striving to gain additional growth and success.
Your website should be well-maintained at all times! New content should be added to your website regularly. Use formatting guidelines to ensure content consistency and have an editorial calendar to ensure posting consistency.
Check your analytics at least once a week to see what’s working and what’s not… and make corrections accordingly. Work hard to respond to comments on your site and social media account. This act goes a long way in obtaining customer loyalty.
In all that you do, remember who you are doing it for and tailor your efforts to suit their needs.