7 Principles for Strong Digital Branding Strategies in 2022
Your marketing efforts are pointless without strong digital branding.
It’s an all too often occurrence that companies consult us for marketing services, yet lack an identity, a voice, or unique value propositions that differentiate them in any way from their numerous competitors. Still, they try and exhaust their valuable marketing budget only to realize too late that their strategies just aren’t working with no understanding of why.
We want to help your company find its voice. Below, we’ll examine seven principles for strong digital branding strategies in 2022 that can help you find your audience, achieve your goals, and establish a reliable pathway to future success.
1. A Brand Represents Real People and Communities
A company’s primary purpose for existing is to generate profit and provide income to its employees. However, these are basic needs for every person on the planet and hardly a convincing motive to encourage others to spend their hard-earned dollars on your products or services. If you spend all of your time trying to hard-sell your audience without appealing to any sort of motive or emotion, they’re going to walk right past you.
This is the reason why branding exists. A digital media branding strategy allows a company to be more than a cold, money-making vehicle. It’s an opportunity to represent the unique and talented individuals that make your services possible. Audiences are just as interested in who provides the service and why as they are in the product or service itself.
More importantly, the people that embody that brand are an extension of the communities they aim to service. When you build a company, it’s likely around a shared belief that others can benefit from what your team provides. To confidently know what a community need is to know why they need it and what types of problems they face on a daily basis. Because you understand those problems and face them yourself, you are a part of that community as much as you are the people providing the solution.
Instead of aiming for mass appeal to generate maximum profit, understand that your company exists to find its niche. The individuals and the collective that make your brand have a place among real people in your community. Your job is to understand exactly how your company complements those people and uplifts them as opposed to simply taking.
This type of genuine connection is the sort of thing that fosters the trust and loyalty that lays the foundation for a successful brand. No one can appeal to everyone and it’s a wasted effort to ever try. Instead, look at the individuals who embody your company, understand their values, and look for those in your community that can connect with those ideas on an emotional level.
2. What Distinguishes You from the Competitor?
A vital part of analyzing your community is closely examining other local businesses. Particularly, you want to focus on direct competition that markets the same products or services that your brand does. You cannot create a realistic or dependable plan without understanding the strategies that others use to be successful with the same target audience.
Not only does competitor analysis help you with strategy development, but it can illuminate key areas that you can utilize to elevate and distinguish your brand from others.
As a basic example, two brands might exist to sell a piece of technology. Brand A emphasizes its branding to support the everyman and promote value, while Brand B utilizes branding that emphasizes luxury and status. What typically ends up happening is that both brands are able to find their niche and succeed even though they are competitors in the same industry. With effective branding, both are able to further segment audiences with similar needs to focus on their unique community.
Of course, your brand can emphasize other unique elements depending on the communities you aim to serve. Understanding what you can use requires you to understand the real problems that your audience faces, how your competitor aims to solve them (or fails to understand them), and what your brand values over the opposing solution.
3. Tell a Story and Find Your Voice
If you look closely at how the top brands market themselves online, you’ll find that storytelling lies at the heart of their success. That storytelling not only applies to the ongoing history of the minds that make up your brand, but of the people that buy your products and keep your success going.
You’ll quickly discover that even with a strong sense of branding and a great strategy, it’s easy to get lost in the flood of digital marketing. Despite your best efforts, every person on the web is absolutely inundated with marketing emails, display ads, interruption ads on videos, and much more. In the age of media overload, an impression may only last as long as it takes to see another ad from another brand.
Understand marketers need to find new ways to penetrate the noise. One of the most successful ways of doing this is to foster an emotional connection with the audience. While someone may not remember the words written or spoken in an advertisement, they will remember a profound feeling if there is one to be had.
Telling a story is not only an effective way of forging emotional connections, but it is a guaranteed way to authenticate and differentiate your team. No two people are the same, and even competitive entrepreneurs in the same industry may have two completely unique stories to tell in how they got to where they are. That journey along with the understanding of their hard work and passion to serve others will go a long way in helping your audience to connect an emotion with your brand. When there’s brand storytelling, there’s a feeling a person will forever associate with your brand identity as opposed to forgettable words that change with the times.
It’s also not just what your story contains, but the voice you use to tell it. Does your brand foster a no-nonsense, professional, get-it-done attitude? Or, does it promote a relaxed, humorous tone that reminds the audience to laugh and enjoy the little things? While something like a brand voice might seem simple, that’s exactly why it’s so effective. Simple is easy to understand and absorb. Be sure that your story and voice are authentic to who you are and people will thank you for it.
4. Content Defines a Brand’s Digital Marketing Strategy
If you spend any time at all studying digital marketing, you will inevitably learn the phrase “Content is king.” This is because the content is the driving force behind every digital marketing tactic from paid advertising campaigns to blogging. However, it’s also a powerful tool for promoting and growing your brand in an effort to engage with more prospects and customers.
Your content must always contain a consistent, reliable voice for your audience to identify. In this way, your audience connects with the brand in a similar way that we all do with people. If someone presents oneself as a trustworthy, dependable, and funny individual consistently, we will eventually trust that the individual is who they claim to be. Conversely, if that same person fluctuates in personality upon each meeting, it makes us hesitant, distrusting, and uneasy in their presence.
Regardless of how you choose to voice your brand, consistency is ultimately the key. The repetition gives you a better opportunity to create a following with the right community and will ensure that your brand generates highly-qualified leads instead of connecting with disinterested persons.
Furthermore, content marketing is a strategy that will not only boost your SEO and website ranking, but gives your audience further opportunities to discover and explore your brand. Longform blog posts provide a unique platform for you to express new stories, ideas, and information that fosters the connection you want between brand and audience.
Not only will unique, branded content builds brand awareness, but it will also foster loyalty among those who identify with you and play a large part in driving future conversions.
Remember that content and how it defines your brand applies to everything you publish online. Don’t try to present a sudden shift in personality or tone in an effort to capture more leads on that new landing page. Stay true to who you are, what your brand values, and the value you can provide to the audience that needs your company’s products or services.
5. Marketers Don’t Define Your Brand, They Support It
This idea is not necessarily about developing your brand identity, but how you can most effectively express it throughout the digital media landscape. If you choose to leverage the help of expert marketing agencies, understand that it is not their role to create or define your brand, but to expertly present it to your target audience online.
What occurs at an alarming rate is that businesses will solicit the help of marketers to begin scaling or driving conversions. However, when it comes time to complete their onboarding, they have no brand identity of note to express. What we’re left with are a cold list of products or services or an offer that promises nothing of note aside from discounts or savings.
While it’s not necessarily your responsibility to know exactly how to leverage digital marketing tactics, it is your responsibility to understand how you want your brand to be represented. Leaving an outside source or partner to define your brand for you is the definition of unauthentic, which goes against the previous principles discussed in this article. What results is tension and conflict between two partners that should be elevating one another toward greater success than they could not otherwise achieve on their own.
Instead, you need to be an active collaborator in your own marketing success. While you won’t be the one creating your ad sets or writing your landing pages, you should be highly critical of any elements that do not meet the image and voice standards that you and your team have set for your brand. Your marketing collaborators will feed off of this critical feedback and further improve their processes as they become more understanding of your branding.
You will retain creative control and work with your new partners to communicate what your brand needs to express. The marketing experts on the other side can then synthesize that messaging into well-written articles, highly-engaging ads, and high-converting call-to-actions that get actual results. When those leads arrive at your door, you seal the deal by doing what you do best – being the embodiment of your brand.
6. Always Manage Your Reputation Online
When you start to promote your brand online, you become something tangible for audiences and other businesses to act upon. You’ll quickly discover that if you do not take the initiative to define your brand, others will be more than happy to do it for you. What results is that new audiences will make pre-determinations about your brand and company values regardless of what you have to say otherwise.
You can find examples of this even at the top level when using the Google search engine. We typed in “what’s in McDonald’s meat?” and looked at the top results. What we found is that the website Mashed takes the top result in answering this question with the McDonald’s brand itself falling second.
The clear and pressing issue for McDonald’s is that an outside identity now has the power to define one of their products, a major element of their branding. Curious parties will generally select the first result in Google, meaning that this website gets the opportunity to create their image of the McDonald’s brand instead of McDonald’s itself.
Effective digital branding and marketing tactics require you to stay in control of the narrative at all times. This example not only illustrates the importance of utilizing strong branding principles, but also emphasizes the need for a complete digital marketing strategy including great content and search engine optimization. While this niche example likely has very little impact on this giant corporation’s bottom line, it can definitely harm smaller businesses that have yet to cement their footing in the digital landscape.
You not only need to look out for external content sources, but also the opinions of previous or existing customers. Word of mouth spreads quickly in the age of social media and users can find data quickly about your business within online directories, aggregator websites, and social media platforms. Several mediocre or low-star reviews can also impact brand perception without so much as a word for others looking for a quick solution.
However, you can fight back and retain control of the narrative by managing your reputation among customers. Part of your digital marketing and branding strategy should be to respond to and oversee reviews and testimonials regarding your business online. If a customer expresses dissatisfaction or a clear issue, make an honest effort to understand and solve the problem. Not only can the overall interaction boost positive perception for that one individual, but your actions will be seen by every other user scrutinizing your reputation.
Don’t forget about your positive reviews, either. Let your satisfied customers know that they are valued and appreciated, and watch as they spread the good word about your brand to others.
7. Continue to Evolve
Finally, it’s important to know that the land of digital marketing is a rapidly evolving landscape. The strategies that were effective five years ago are long outdated, and what works today may not work at the same time next year.
While your core branding, identity, and values won’t change, the manner in which you deliver your message will. To ensure that your company is able to establish generational success, you’ll need to constantly be aware of how new and existing audiences are able to discover information about the brands they choose to do business with online. If there’s a more convenient way to learn, audiences will find it. It’s the brands that not only stay on top of, but ahead of these trends that leap ahead of the pack and claim the number one spot.
Conclusion – Take These Digital Branding Strategies with You Into the New Year!
The brand identity is not just a box you need to check to start marketing online. It’s the single most powerful tool you’ll use to both identify yourself to audiences and distinguish yourself from the competitor they may also be examining. It represents both the individual and the collective that embody your company’s values and its desire to aid the community with its unique solutions.
Identify who you are, decide upon the voice and tone you want to use, and look for engaging ways to tell your personal story. Manage your reputation and don’t let others define your brand for you. By remaining consistent and authentic with whom you want to appeal, you will find naturally discover your niche and your audience will come to you.