Companies around the world have officially woken up to the fact that modern businesses of all shapes and sizes are powered by the internet, and this realization has led to an interesting reality: flooding of competitive activity in the online marketplace.
It doesn’t matter what industry you operate in, what products you’re selling, or if you’re a local, regional, or international business, you need to find a way to stand out online if you want to succeed. The question is, how can a company, especially a startup, design its brand in order to stand out in an overly-saturated marketplace?
How to Design a Brand that Stands Out
It’s important to gain some perspective as you develop a brand. There’s nothing quite so humbling as entering the online marketplace with your “great new idea” and running into the sobering truth that “there’s nothing new under the sun.” It doesn’t matter if you’re selling cutting edge IoT (Internet of Things) equipment, brass buttons or anything in between, you’re going to have stiff competition.
While this realization can dampen your spirits, it doesn’t have to be that way. Understanding that you’re just one of many attempting to gain a foothold in a niche market is important to developing that branding “secret sauce” that enables you to shine above the competition.
With that said, here are a few of the best tips and suggestions to help you position your brand as the best option in a crowded online space.
Customize Your Audience
The first thing you should do when creating a branding strategy is consider who it is you’re selling to. Take some time to break down each and every kind of customer that could be interested in your products or services. As you develop this list, flesh out each customer type into its own marketing category.
Customizing your audience in this manner will enable you to craft each ad for a specific segment of your target demographic. This enables your messages to be more personal, detailed, and hand-tailored to the needs of the potential customers you’re engaging with.
Keep It Simple
The pressure of a cramped marketplace can tempt a company to go over the top with the marketing frills and fanfare. However, it’s important to curb this desire before it enters the realm of tacky marketing tactics that turn off rather than attract new clients.
Instead, focus on keeping your marketing message streamlined and clean. Uniqueness doesn’t come from being flashier or having a more complex sales pitch — you can be unique while also being simple. Accomplish this by focusing on simply communicating that you have a better product offering than your competitors.
As you create your online brand, utilize a simple color palette, easy to read fonts and a thoroughly thought out website that prioritizes the user’s experience through:
- A minimalist design: Minimalism continues to be extremely popular, and adopting a “less is more” attitude on your website will be aesthetically pleasing for most users.
- Easily comprehensible navigation: Simple navigation is key to a good website. The gaming behemoth League of Legends has shown that even an extremely popular product with tens of millions of users can be backed up by a simple, easy-to-use website.
- Fast loading time: If your site doesn’t load quickly, you’re going to lose potential customers who will leave in search of faster loading sites with alternative solutions.
- Clear calls to action: You must incorporate clearly defined calls to action on your site in order to guide visitors towards your sales pages.
Simply put, you should always aim to provide an online customer experience that is as smooth and simple as possible.
While your actual marketing collateral should be streamlined and simple, that doesn’t mean it should be bland. Make sure to develop a personality for your brand. Will you be snarky, sleek, authoritative, conversational, relatable?
Whatever you settle on, make sure to infuse everything from your voice and tone to your color, font, and website layout with your brand’s online personality. In addition, make sure to set up branding and process guides that encapsulate what your brand is supposed to sound like. Then use these documents to ensure that everyone on your creative team is creating cohesive content that fits your brand’s personality.
Craft Quality Content
Content is king. It’s that simple. You can litter the internet with flashy pay per click ads, plaster your site with pop-ups, and clutter your social media channels with promotions, but if you don’t have solid, authoritative content to back it all up, you’re going to fail to gain any traction.
The modern online consumer is able to parse through content and identify what is genuine and what is a thinly veiled sales pitch. With that in mind, don’t take shortcuts when it comes to developing content for your brand. Every piece of your content should provide actual value to the reader and strive to resolve their pain points, while simultaneously highlighting your own products and services as the best solution to their problem.
Utilize Visual Content
Visual content is one of the most effective ways to market yourself. Many businesses are thriving on image-friendly social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Tik Tok. Videos are proving to be particularly effective, as well, as they allow you to proactively demonstrate to your audience what your products and services can do.
Create Engaging Content
If you want your brand to shine, you should find ways to promote it with engaging content. If a consumer engages with your brand, they’re much more likely to remember the experience. This can happen in a variety of different ways, such as back and forth conversations on social media, email communications, and even a chat option or various calls to action on your website.
Use Social Media Wisely
Ninety-three percent of marketers already use social media, and there’s little chance that the number will decline in the near future. Even the social media marketing naysayers will typically admit that the oversaturation of businesses in the social media space may require a shift but not necessarily a decline in the use of social media within marketing.
With that said, it’s important to thoughtfully incorporate social media into your branding strategy. Don’t just set up a profile on every platform and start posting random content. Consider what sites your customers tend to congregate on and then tailor your brand strategy for those particular platforms.
In addition, make sure that you’re using your social media efforts to accomplish specific goals. Social media marketing can help you establish your brand in several different ways, including:
- Allowing you to relate to your audience and build brand loyalty.
- Enabling you to send more authentic, down to earth, and relatable marketing messages.
- Provide genuine customer service that demonstrates active listening.
- Use influencers to help create positive brand awareness.
- Garner reviews from existing customers as social proof for your brand.
Whatever you decide to focus your social media efforts on, make sure that you set goals and establish key performance indicators (KPIs) — such as a certain number of positive reviews or mentions or a minimum amount of traffic from influencers — to ensure that your social efforts are yielding results that are positive for your brand.
Walk the Already Trodden Path
When it comes to cutting through the white noise of an already-saturated market, it can be helpful to take advantage of the previous efforts of your competitors whenever possible. For instance, look for already established industry keywords, and then utilize pay per click marketing to get in front of your competitor’s customers whenever possible.
What If You’re Local?
When it comes to developing a brand for a local business, you still need to tend to your online presence. Many potential customers will research reviews or look up a local business online before paying a visit. Therefore, take the time to maximize your local SEO (search engine optimization) by:
- Filling out your Google My Business listing.
- Setting up PPC ads that are focused on keywords searched within your geographic region.
- Optimizing your website with keywords and hyperlinks to help you hit the top of the local search engine rankings.
- Create content that highlights a unique selling proposition and how exceptional your products or services are compared to the competition.
- Respond to reviews and interact with customers on social media.
If you invest in your online presence, you’ll be able to dominate your local online market.
Always Remember to Test as You Go
As you go about personalizing your brand, setting up social media campaigns, and crafting quality branded content, it’s important to remember to set up those key performance indicators as you go in order to test the results of your branding efforts.
Having KPIs established enables you to dabble in different strategies without fully committing your marketing budget until you find what really yields positive results. Once you find the branding options that work best, you can scale your activities and, consequently, launch your brand into the forefront of the online market niche you’re trying to dominate.
About the Author!
Dan Matthews is a journalist and tech enthusiast with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has written extensively online at the intersection of business tech and digital marketing.