Your brand is more than your logo and color palette. It’s what customers and potential customers think of you. For decades, if not centuries, businesses have worked to create positive associations with their logos, products and all other customer touch-points.
In today’s online world, branding has become even more important. Branding drives customer loyalty. Create a favorable impression with your brand, and your customers are likely to return to your Web site to buy from you again. Get it wrong, and they can post negative stories on blogs, social media sites like MySpace and Facebook or business rating and review Web sites.
Advertising and marketing saturation has made most people tune out the thousands of messages they receive. So, nothing creates a more favorable impression on potential customers than hearing about your business from a satisfied customer. In the online world, it’s easy for customers to share their experiences, and that can be a great way for you to generate positive associations with your business.
Branding is about making yourself stand out from the competition in a crowded playing field. There are many different strengths you can emphasize. A recent Double Click survey asked online shoppers what brings them back to a Web site. The top two features were free or flat-rate shipping and privacy policies.
If you sell a product similar to other vendors, negotiate a better deal for shipping. Customers are sure to notice. You might consider purchasing stronger encryption than the competition, or looking for ways to really promote the security measures you have in place.
The survey was targeted to a general audience, but if you serve a niche market, the possibilities are endless for making yourself stand out. If you have the best design, fastest turnaround time, or biggest selection, use one of those as your differentiator.
Another key finding of the Double Click survey was that 70 percent of consumers belong to frequent buyer or loyalty programs. For more ideas on how to build customer loyalty for your business, read Inexpensive Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back.
Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to spread the word. The Internet offers many low-cost ways to get your Web site and message in front of potential customers. Search engine optimization and pay per click advertising are two of the most popular.
Search Engine Optimization — Optimize your Web site for your brand name. You may have a lot of competition for generic industry terms, but you can rank number one in the results for your brand name if it’s unique.
Pay Per Click Advertising — Reinforce your message and generate traffic by placing ads for keywords that relate to your business. Even if people don’t click, they’ll see your business name, and you’ll make an impression. Make sure your ad text highlights your specific brand message to make you stand out from all the others.
As you build your brand, remember it’s what your customers think about you, not what you would like them to think. Listen to their feedback and they’ll tell you what your brand means to them. Then highlight your strong points and work to fix the less-than-perfect aspects to grow your business.