Digital branding is a term that’s used rather loosely to describe all the different ways in which a business draws in its customers online. It includes a number of different aspects of marketing including SEO, online advertising, content marketing, social media, and influencer marketing. As a business, establishing a brand is key. In the era of online communications, it is just common sense that you must communicate your brand online to stay ahead of the competition.
Digital Marketing vs. Digital Branding
While you may often hear the terms digital marketing and digital branding used interchangeably, they are quite different from one another. Digital marketing is more about pushing a certain product or service based on how good it is, whereas digital branding is a little more subtle than that. Instead of focusing on one particular product, digital branding highlights more the underlying values of the company.
Branding will remain in place long after any product has been replaced, or discontinued. It’s what sticks in a customer’s mind once they’ve made their purchase and is the first thing they think of when they need your service again. While digital marketing is fantastic at getting one-time buyers, branding is better at building lifelong relationships between between businesses and customers.
Therefore, digital branding is a more long-term marketing strategy. It is all about building up a brand identity through the use of digital strategy and planning. Strong digital brand strategy will result in effectively communicating your brand experience, so that your audience truly knows what you represent as a company.
In this article, we will first examine the benefits of a strong digital brand strategy, and then we will examine some of the most important digital branding trends of 2019.
Benefits of Digital Branding
There are so many benefits to digital branding, so it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some of the main ones:
- Multichannel: Having a strong digital brand allows businesses to spread out on different online platforms. This includes channels such as online advertisements, search engine advertisements, chat sites, and social media platforms. Being able to promote your brand across several different platforms is a great benefit to any business as it allows a single brand message to be sent to various different customers, yet personalized to each and every one.
The simple fact is that in today’s world of digital marketing, you can’t reach everyone with just one channel. People are spread all over the Internet, and you would be limiting yourself and limiting your brand awareness by focusing on only one channel. Effective reach is achieved by spreading your message all across the digital landscape. This seems like a daunting task, but it is also a big opportunity.
- Virality: In this digital age we live in, to ‘go viral’ is a big deal. It essentially means maximum exposure in a short period of time and while it has been misused in the past it can be a huge benefit for businesses. Going viral isn’t necessarily something that’s planned, it just happens as a post result of your marketing effort. The great thing about digital branding is that brands are easily promoted through the action of others (i.e. likes, shares, feedback, recommendations, etc.)
Going viral involves a lot of luck. But there are many things you can do to improve your chances. Number one is consistency. Post often and post to as many platforms as you can. The more opportunities you give your content to succeed, the better the chance that something, eventually, will stick. Going viral can hardly be relied on, but posting with consistency is a good strategy in itself to build a large online presence.
- Interaction: Digital branding allows your customers to get involved and creates a unique customer experience. Some ways in which digital branding allows companies to interact with their customers include launching a clickable banner ad on certain sites, or creating a GIF to showcase your company’s best features.
- Sets you apart from the rest: In this day and age competition is fierce in pretty much any sector and having something that sets you apart from the rest will secure your role in the marketplace later on. Digital branding does that by bringing together all your business's strengths and successes. It will help to create an impression and to distinguish you from your competitors. By continuing to stay on the forefront of the digital landscape, you can stay ahead of your competition and reach target customers in new ways.
- Better connections: Creating a digital brand makes it much easier for you to connect with your target audiences. Brand values stay true throughout the years and are developed to be in tune with the younger generation which still holding some traditional value in which to keep the older generation on board.
Additionally, many digital platforms are simply designed for increased levels of connectivity. Social media is the obvious one, but many ways in which you can share your brand message online will allow for feedback and direct interactions with your audience. They are often better suited than traditional marketing for maintaining a relationship with your customers.
Top Digital Branding Trends of 2019
To help you get on your way to creating a fabulous digital brand, it’s good to know what others are doing to give you some ideas of where you want to take your ideas. The following are some of the top digital branding trends of 2019:
- Mobile optimization: Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone these days and so optimizing your content for this medium is a must. It’s been estimated that as many as 40% of consumers will leave a landing page if it’s not optimized for a mobile platform. Therefore, those companies that are mobile-friendly are in a much better position to build strong customer relations and create a memorable brand.
The simple fact is that by optimizing your content so that it can be viewed from anywhere, you will get a lot more views on the things you post. Since your content was designed to communicate your brand message to your consumers, it is just logical that you will generate more brand awareness by optimizing your content for mobile.
- Authenticity: Times have changed and people are much more clued up than they were thirty years ago. What may have passed as good branding back then would probably now be considered cheesy. Customers don’t want to be ooed and aahed, they just want to be sure they're dealing with a reputable company that’s open and honest. Those companies that can showcase themselves as being authentic and trustworthy are most likely to have the greatest success with customers.
Fortunately, digital branding strategies are an excellent way to communicate this openness and authenticity. Digital platforms, with the variety of ways they allow your consumers to comment and interact, are designed to be open and transparent. They allow your customers to engage with you, which promotes authenticity across your branding.
- Social media: There’s no getting away from it. Social media is huge right now. In the US alone, more than three quarters of the population have at least one social media profile. When it comes to firms developing their digital branding strategy, social media is often one of the first avenues that’s discussed. But be careful which platforms you go for. While some platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram are steadily growing, others such as Twitter are not doing quite so well.
- Community: Building a community is a great tool for digital branding. People who are involved in a community are more likely to stay involved with your brand and have positive associations. They are then more likely to choose your brand when it is time to make a purchase. Fortunately, digital platforms offer plenty of ways to build and maintain a community.
Many companies have found success in building a community through tools such as Facebook Groups. By creating a group where customers and potential customers can interact with each other, share stories and tips about your products, and experiences they have had with your brand, you give them a motivation to stay involved with your brand by choice. It is a helpful way to build brand loyalty, and if your group becomes popular it will grow organically.
- Video: This year is all about companies creating video content that can be uploaded and shared straight away. Video is very popular among the younger generation and is a fantastic way to gain publicity and promote your brand. Video is easier to create and share than ever these days, so having a video that people want to watch and share can be crucial to grow your brand.
Video can simply evoke emotion and convey a brand message better than images in many cases. So investing in high-quality video can be a great marketing and branding strategy.
- Ranking: As well as helping customers understand what your company’s all about, digital branding helps to create positive rankings in search engines too. Google is quickly gaining the confidence of many companies and those who want to get their digital branding efforts known will need to work hard to stay at the top.
Effective SEO is therefore quite crucial in your digital branding strategy. Search engines are a key way that most people ask questions and find answers online. So if people find that your brand is the answer to their issues, you will be very likely to gain a customer.
- Chatbots: Thanks to the acceleration of artificial intelligence, the rise of chatbots is upon us, and for customers that means nothing but good news. People like to get answers straight away. If they can’t get the answer they’re looking for they often lose interest. That’s where chatbots come in really useful as they can run 24/7. You can also personalize content with your brand voice with chatbots. This is a great opportunity to stay engaged with your customers, as well as solve their queries in an accurately and timely manner.
- Design: Whether it be designing a website, designing content for your social media, or designing an app, the design and overall feel of your online communications goes a long way in communicating your brand. Design opens up many opportunities for you to showcase your creativity, innovation, or simply to make something that is intuitive and looks good.
Consistent design can do a great job of conveying your brand consistently across multiple digital platforms. The opportunity to be creative and make yourself stand out is there.
- User Experience: With increasingly fast Internet, comes the opportunity to streamline your online interactions in a way that you couldn’t before. You can monitor and optimize every UX interaction so that the consumer is perfectly comfortable and informed while using your website/app.
As an example of this, online stores can be increasingly built to replicate the experience of being in a retail store. With faster speeds and better optimization, it becomes easier for the consumer to browse products, find product details, ask questions, pay with various methods, and more. This is a great digital branding strategy because almost any company surely wants their brand to be associated with a positive, easy, and intuitive customer experience.
Digital branding is a vital step in building any successful business. For that reason, it’s important to have a solid digital branding strategy in place before you begin. Not only will this allow you to increase your company's popularity, it will enable you to build a much stronger relationship with your customer.
There are many ways to go about conveying your brand through digital platforms. The opportunities may seem vast and quite overwhelming. This is why it is a good idea to have a great grasp on what your brand represents and what you want to communicate. If you have a good idea of the message that you want to get across, then your digital communications become a vehicle for delivering a message that you already know and believe in. It can then become an extremely powerful tool for communicating this message and separating yourself from your competition.