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Digital branding: six ideas to help your SME nail this increasingly complex task in 2017

Branding is changing rapidly and isn’t as simple as it once was. The list of channels for modern marketers to consider can seem never-ending and working them all requires more technical and creative skills than ever before. Just working one channel effectively can be a full time job and when you consider the average to-do-list can include company website, search engine optimisation, PR, social media, content creation, branding, analyst relations and email you start to appreciate the scale of the task.

Marketing is by nature an ambiguous endeavour and that adds to the difficulty of successful execution. It’s harder to track the causation of marketing and metrics can be far less quantifiable which makes prioritising a constant juggling act.

Branding is more than just having a kick-ass logo and matching business cards. The challenge of modern marketing means your brand needs to adapt in order to keep up with your customers’ expectations and your competitors’ tactics. Check out these six ideas to help you smash your digital branding out of the park this year.

1. Personalisation is paramount

You’re a customer as well, so you should know that expectations are higher than they’ve ever been before. Brands have to fight for attention in an overcrowded marketplace. From wearable technology to iBeacon proximity devices and virtual reality shopping experiences – customers expect your product or service to be tailored to them. Unfortunately for business owners the one-size-fits-all approach isn’t as successful as it once was. While not every business can start creating bespoke services for their customers, you can employ some simple approaches that will go a long way. People love feeling special, your customers even more so. You can start with some really basic techniques, like addressing their first name in all marketing email communications or even asking customers for feedback a few weeks after their purchase. Little things can go a long way. Try it out for yourself.

2. Think on your domain choice

There are some really cool domain extensions floating around cyberspace at the moment. Have you had a chance to notice them? If you are stuck with a domain that you don’t think is as hip as it could be, now’s the time to change it to almost anything you want. Especially if you got stuck with a ‘.net’ or a ‘.info’ URL. There are some seriously funky options now, so embrace your inner creative. Just make sure you consult with an SEO expert before doing the switch so you don’t lose your google street cred in the world of www.

3. Consider the important issues

Similar to tip number 1, people care about people. This means your brand should start caring about the important issues. It’s not just the household name brands that can make a difference with their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy. Any brand that wants to connect to customers should create an element of humanism in their brand. Find something that you can really assimilate your brand to and strive to make a difference. Whether you choose to donate money or just allocate time to build awareness for a cause – it all helps. It’s not only good for the people who are receiving your help, it also gives your brand something to apply PR strategies too.

4. Brand versus Brand Experience

Think about the last time you walked into a Dusk store. The scent is just magical and it makes you feel like you’re in a forest with pixies who handcraft their candles. It’s a vivid example, but their branding is not just about colour schemes and their website design. It is about the experience their brand creates for each customer when they walk into their store and past it for that matter. Think creatively and spend time building a brand experience not just a brand. Connect with peoples sense if you can; smell, touch, sound, sight and taste.

5. Embrace Emoji’s

These little digital graphics are the perfect tool to convey emotion when you only have a limited capacity to use characters and words. Not only that, they make your brand so much more personal as people tend to use these little icons when communicating with friends and family.

Bring your brand alive and give it a bit of personality. Start speaking to your customers using the language they can connect with.

6. Time is money

Get this, customers expect you to respond instantly (well, almost). With 90% of all buying decisions being emotional, if you’re too slow you may lose the sale. You can’t physically man your social media channels and website at all hours of the day and night (unless you’re a mega business) so you need to implement strategies that will give your customers some sort of response until you can get to them. Facebook has upped the anti and now displays to users how long a business pages typically take to reply to a customer’s message. Customer expectations on business responsiveness are more intense than ever so make sure your brand has a strategy in place to conquer it.

If you can recognise these six areas of awesome branding and adapt your business branding accordingly, you’ll be sure to build a reputation as a brand at the forefront of this current shift in marketing. Don’t be the business who waits for everyone else to adapt before you take on this advice. Act now, and even if everyone else is a little behind the eight ball you’ll be the leader not the follower. Which is what we all strive to be, right? Good luck!

About the author

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin is the CEO of full-service creative marketing agency Belgrin. She previously wrote Define your culture…now, is that the reality?What a 90s advert reveals about business todayHow can SMBs get the most out of LinkedIn?Virtual reality revolution: time to get aheadwhy potential customers ignore your ads and Rebranding: when to take the leap?

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Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin is the CEO of full-service creative marketing agency Belgrin.

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