Consumers don’t talk about businesses; they talk about brands. Indeed, a brand is far more than just a business, it is something that has an identity, a reputation and consumer appeal. For customers, it has meaning, value and can even bring social kudos. Today, branding has become an essential part of establishing a company and helping it grow. Here, we look at some of the ways branding is important for online businesses.
1. Making customers loyal
Branding helps build relationships with customers that go beyond selling them a product or service. They identify with what the brand stands for, whether that’s value for money, eco-friendliness, social responsibility, trustworthiness, product quality, customer experience, kudos or, more likely, a combination of these. As a result, brand-customer relationships are more inclined to be long-term, with loyalty driving repeat sales and inspiring brand ambassadors to recruit new customers on your behalf.
2. Makes the difference in marketing
Creative branding can make your online business stand out from the crowd in today’s highly competitive market. If your online store is selling the same products as everyone else, it’s often down to the brand’s identity to make the difference that attracts customers. If shopping with you is greener, more convenient or more up-market, for example, and customers associate those things with your brand, you can use those brand differentiators in your marketing to attract the customers who want those experiences.
Of course, this requires a long-term brand strategy in which you shape the identity of your brand to meet the desires and needs of your target audience. It’s far more than picking a catchy name and choosing an eye-catching logo.
3. Recognisability and expansion
With an established brand, it makes it far easier down the line to launch new and perhaps even radically different products and services because people are already familiar with what the brand stands for. If Apple started selling footwear, people would buy them because they would come pre-packaged with all the attributes that the Apple brand stands for: high quality, well-designed and up-market. The same would likely apply if Adidas started selling phones. It’s what enables Bentley to sell golf clubs and Mercedes to sell fragrances. Over the years, the recognisability of the Virgin brand, for example, has enabled Richard Branson to launch numerous ventures ranging from record stores to space flights.
4. Charge more for your products and services
Great branding adds value to your business which can make customers more willing to pay a premium for your products and services. Take two identical coats, put a well-known brand logo on the sleeve of one of them and you can multiply the price several times. The difference has nothing to do with the actual coat, it’s all down to the reputation of the brand. Even if you sell other brands’ products, if your own brand is valued enough, you can sell them for more than your competitors, just look at the price differences between supermarkets.
5. Stability and consistency
Branding enables you to develop a stable presence online and on social media. People will become familiar with your branding and messages and that familiarity increases interest. Over the long term of seeing your branding, even if they have never purchased from your before, those consumers will come to think of you as a stable and dependable company.
Additionally, if you promote the same business values, people will not just see you as ever-present, they will also see your messaging as consistent; something that helps build trust and which can be useful in acquiring new customers.
One term we frequently hear nowadays is ‘brand ambassador’ and if you do any research into the customer journey, the apex for businesses are those that go beyond being a customer and become a brand advocate.
Essentially, people become so loyal to a brand that they begin to promote it. They buy the products, they talk about them to their friends, they follow the brand online, share its social media posts and, perhaps most importantly, recommend the brand to others.
In today’s market, where consumers are increasingly sceptical and require social proof in the form of reviews, ratings and recommendations, there is no more valuable marketing asset than ambassadors and advocates that, independently, influence others to buy your products and services.
7. Attract the right customers
While at first you need to shape your brand strategy to attract target customers, once your brand has been established, it will automatically attract those customers for you. For example, if you build a brand identity around being a socially and environmentally friendly business, you will need at the outset to put the things in place that ethical consumers want. However, when you establish that identity, other ethical customers will seek you out. This doesn’t just apply to ethical consumerism, though that is a major trend that many brands are trying to adopt, it applies to all elements of brand identity, whether it’s the public image of the product quality (e.g., Dyson) or the social status of the brand image (e.g., Versace).
Great branding can bring many benefits to your online business, helping you attract new customers and forge long-term, loyal relationships. Key to your online brand’s success, however, is the reliability, performance and security of your website and to ensure this, it is always vital that you have reliable, fast and secure web hosting in place.
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