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The Complete Guide to Building a Brand Online

The rapid development of online technologies and innovations produced a revolution in the field of small businesses. Manufacturers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, retailers, professional creatives of all kinds now can experience an unprecedented freedom as small biz owners. They can create a website and build an online presence, find niche markets to grow into and discover new opportunities for monetization. But can they establish themselves as “brands,” like big companies have been doing for decades?

One key outcome of the online revolution for businesses is the democratization of branding. It is no longer solely the benefit of the “big fish” who can easily devote hefty chunks of the budget to brand building. Now more than ever, companies and organizations across industries and on different scales can accomplish a great deal through brand development.

This detailed article on how to build a brand online is recommended for all small business owners and self-employed professionals who want to see their business fulfill its potential. It is your first step towards establishing your business as a professional brand.

1. Your Brand Identity

To build your brand name successfully you first need to know it inside out. You start by defining the core values and qualities of your brand and let them guide every step in the brand development strategy that we will discuss throughout the article.

Consider the following elements that make up your brand identity:

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Every business transaction is a dialog. If you want the conversation to go well you need to listen to your partner and understand them. Your target audience is the primary conversation partner of your business. The more you know about your audience, the better you become at talking with them. Here are some questions you want to answer:

  • Demographics: Your audience’s age group, gender(s), educational profile, location.

  • What do they do with their time?

  • What drives them?

  • What are some of their favorite brands? Or cultural icons?

  • What do they like to do online?

  • What platforms are they active on?

  • What can you offer them?

  • How would interaction with your brand influence them?

What Is the Story of Your Brand?

Successful brands don’t just spring out of nowhere. They emerge from a certain challenge, powered by a unique vision and a drive to share something with the world. This is your brand’s story – the motivation that started it all, the backbone of your entire business operation. When you share it with your target audience, you invite them to partake in your journey.

The values that you want to convey in your brand strategy are derivatives of your brand’s story. Framing your story helps you articulate in more powerful ways the qualities that make your brand what it is. It allows people to see their engagement with your brand as a part of this story, not simply as a transaction or a click on a link.

One great example of storytelling in branding is Airbnb’s use of images on their homepage. These images depict social exchanges, family fun and discoveries of new environments. They show that the added value of using Airbnb’s platform is in forming unique experiences, and in doing so they invite potential users to picture themselves as part of that story.

What Is Your Brand’s Personality?

Before the web became a key arena for business, brands could function as a one-dimensional abstraction and still be somewhat successful. The internet reshuffled the rules of the game, making it necessary for brands to be more than just names and logos. To reach maximum relatability, your brand needs to develop its own personality.

Try to imagine your brand as an actual person: What are its habits, dreams, sense of style, tone of voice? Is it a thin-crust or deep-dish kind of brand? Who are its friends and what do they do for fun together? These traits and features will help you characterize your brand personality and help in developing your brand’s public image.

One brand that is exceptionally awesome in expressing its personality is Old Spice. Go check out their Facebook page to get a sense of how a brand personality feels.

2. Your Brand’s Look

Once you have a solid grip on your brand identity, you can move on to the more practical and technical aspects of branding your business. First in line is the question of your brand’s look – the visual expression of your brand’s story and personality. Let’s break it down to the details:

Defining the Overall Style

Just like in fashion, brands also can be categorized into different styles. Your brand design can be minimalist, nautical, techy or classy; it can draw influences from pop-art, print journalism, hand-drawn illustrations or geometry; it can opt for child-like simplicity, sleek elegance, a holistic atmosphere or vintage galore.

The key issue is to choose a style that corresponds with the brand identity that you have in mind. For example, a refined black & white look isn’t the best choice for your youthful and grungy brand for custom-made skateboards.

Choosing Your Brand’s Colors

It’s tempting to just go with your favorite colors, we know, but this decision should be an informed one. Colors are extremely significant in brand development. It is literally impossible to think of Coca-Cola separate from the color red, or to visualize Facebook in anything but its distinctive blue. These associations are not random; they are the outcome of highly successful branding.

To be able to make a confident choice about your brand colors, start by familiarizing yourself with color theory to understand how colors work together, which combinations are absolutely fabulous and which you want to avoid. Then, consult this guide for choosing the perfect color scheme for an effective online presence.

Creating a Winning Logo

Logos are the ultimate branding tool. The most successful brands in the world can be recognized only by their logos, which shows just how important the logo is to the core of the brand. Your logo may not be the next Nike Swoosh, but it nevertheless plays a huge role in shaping the relationship between you and your target audience.

The qualities of a powerful logo are:

  • It activates associations fast and clearly. One industry rule-of-thumb says people should know what your brand is about just by looking at your logo.

  • It looks great no matter where you put it – on your website’s header, your Facebook profile image or your business cards.

  • It is a concise and condensed