In the world of business, both online and offline, it doesn’t pay to be a wallflower.
You don’t want to blend into the background, because it means that you’ll be instantly forgettable and easily replaceable.
You already know this, of course, but what can you do to establish a stronger brand identity, one that fans, followers, and customers will remember? One that will stick in their minds the next time they’re interested in something that you might offer?
While there is no such thing as a magic bullet, you do have it in your power to stack the odds in your favor. And these 9 ways are easily accessible by brands and businesses of all sizes, even if you’re only a company of one.
1. Capitalize on major social media platforms
This may go without saying, but you’d really be surprised by just how many modern companies are not taking full advantage of social media. That starts with using your brand logo and creating visuals and background profiles that further promote your brand identity.
It would be unreasonable for a very small company to uphold a presence on every platform under the sun. Instead, be active on the three big ones for sure – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – and then go to where your customers and potential fans already are for maximum impact.
If your target demographic or ideal customer base tends to skew a little older, there’s no sense in spending too much time on TikTok. But if your target audience is more business-oriented, you may focus more effort on LinkedIn. If you have products, services or content that are geared toward crafty types or your demographics tend to lean toward female users, you may lean a little more into Pinterest.
This can also represent a great opportunity to work with influencers in your niche. Tap into that audience and expand your potential reach.
Also, later in the article, I will cover how you can start using social media platforms to rank higher and more often in Google for your brand and personal name.
2. Having a professional logo for your brand
If a picture is worth a thousand words then a logo is potentially worth millions of dollars. You see the swoosh and you know it’s Nike. You see the golden arches and you’re already thinking about eating a Big Mac.
Your logo is very much at the heart of your company’s brand identity. A common misconception is that you have to spend thousands or even millions of dollars to get a great logo and that’s simply not the case. A memorable, iconic logo is well within grasp, one that gels perfectly with the image and brand identity you want to project.
Rather than pay an expensive design firm, you can make your own logo in minutes with the online logo maker from LogoMyWay. The online tool walks you through every step of the process. You start by entering your company name and slogan. It will then generate a huge range of potential design options.
Pick the one that you’d like to customize, changing out the art, text, colors and more to suit your preference. A few quick clicks later, you’ve got yourself a world-class logo you can be proud of. Use it on all your social media, letterhead, business cards, and even promotional material like mugs, pens, and apparel.
3. Stylize your email signature
Some people keep their email signatures really short and simple. It was once the trend, for instance, to include a favorite quote. This is a huge lost opportunity! Your email signature, just like the signature you may have on forums, represents another chance to solidify your company’s brand identity.
If you’d like to see an example of what’s now possible with a few clicks of a button and using Gmail, just check out my email signature below. It’s clean, easy to follow and also offers all of my best contact info and my latest blog posts.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out this list of examples. You’ll notice that from an individual perspective, many people include a small portrait in their email signatures, not unlike the profile picture you might see on social media profiles. In addition to pertinent contact info, it can also be fruitful to include more dynamic content, like a link to your latest blog post or YouTube video.
Keep it clean, but also give your email signature more visual appeal than a few short lines of plain text.
4. Simplify your image
Looking at some traditional logos from the past century, you might find that several are incredibly complex and intricate. They could feature very detailed artwork and a lot of text. They may even feature a line in Latin. That’s a very old approach and one that just isn’t effective in the 21st century and the online environment.
Over the past two years, plenty of big-name brands have taken a hatchet to their mobile app icons and logo designs, going for much cleaner looks and interfaces as well. You can see a full list and visual here. With such limited space available on a mobile screen, these logos and icons need to pop!
For greater impact and a more memorable logo, it is oftentimes better to go for a much more simplified design. Forget about the faux 3D effects of a few years ago and opt for a flatter design language. Look at what Facebook has done with its logo. While gradients and curves can have some visual appeal, they’re not as effective today as flatter, simpler aesthetics. You don’t have to look much further than the app icons on your smartphone to see this is where the industry is headed.
5. Monitor your keywords
Social media, as mentioned above, can be an incredibly invaluable tool in your branding arsenal. But, it’s not enough simply to have a profile where you post content every now and then. You have to recognize that social media is not meant to be used simply as a broadcast channel; it’s a social tool. To this end, it’s critically important that you engage with users who are or may be interested in what you have to offer.
This includes not only responding to replies and messages that you receive but also proactively seeking out those fruitful interactions. To do that, you can utilize any number of social media management solutions and keyword monitoring tools. Some of the best include Agorapulse, Hootsuite, Keyhole, Sprout Social, and Zoho Social. Many of them offer very similar functionality, but each has its own respective advantages too.
6. Create a video splitter
Video isn’t the future; it’s the present. It’s the right now. Sharing video on platforms like Twitter and Facebook is great, but the place where you can really shine and get that long-term engagement is still on YouTube. If you’re committed to building your brand identity on YouTube, a great branding exercise is to include a video splitter near the beginning of each video.
This is typically some sort of short video or animation that clearly illustrates your brand, and it really shouldn’t more than a few seconds long. The video splitter serves to re-iterate and solidify your brand in the eye (and mind) of the viewer, reminding them of who you are and what you do. It’s just like having a catchy jingle in a TV commercial, except it also encapsulates the visual experience, as well as the audio experience.
And this is important for a few different reasons. Not just because it’s another way to start using video and social media, but also to start attracting new audiences through mobile as well. See the chart above from eMarketer on how millennials are still heading to YouTube in masses for their preferred video content.
7. Have a story for your brand
Everyone is always talking about the importance of having a story or tagline for your business. However, as important as these elements are, it’s not like you are going to commonly be asked “what’s the story about your brand” on a daily basis… or even through your site or social media.
The good news is if you can come up with a unique and interesting video that not only tells the story of your brand but also keeps your audience entertained – you are much more likely to gain some attention and maybe even get some social sharing activity in the process.
One company that has found quite an interesting way to accomplish this is simpleshow, and they’ve done it through the use of whiteboard and explainer videos, but also using a wheel process to guide viewers through an interactive story that can cover pretty much any topic.
As we all know, whiteboard and explainer videos have worked extremely well for landing pages and homepages with a product or service to sell. This also means they can work wonders for your business or brand bio and story as well.
Think of it like this… would you like to read a 500-word article on how a company was created and how they can better serve you? Or would you rather watch an interactive 15 to 30-second video instead?
8. Establish your expertise
If you want to be a leader in your industry, you need people to know that you’re a leader in your industry. That kind of branding can go a long way in identifying you and your company as the top option in your niche or space. For this sort of branding exercise, you may look into authoring definitive e-books or authoritative white papers. It really depends on the type of company that you run and the audience you’re trying to attract.
In some cases, it might make more sense to partner with blogs and media outlets for opportunities like guest posts and feature interviews. Look into how you might be a guest on a popular podcast. To be a market leader, you must first be seen as qualified for that position. And that’s a great place to be from a branding perspective.
9. Own the first page of Google for your name
If someone was to search on Google for the name of your brand, or even your personal name, what would they find?
In most cases, they would likely come across your main site in the first position and maybe a couple of social profiles here and there. However, depending on the type of business you have, its online reputation, and where it has been mentioned online… you might have some sites ranking on the first page of Google for your name that you might not like.
The good news here is that Google loves social networks and ranking them on the top of the search results. For example, in this article, you can see how names like Jeff Bullas, Neil Patel, Taylor Swift, and others dominate the main page of Google for their personal names and brands (ie: with their own sites and social profiles).
Something to point out here is that this works for ranking more than just your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. As you can see in the example with Jeff Bullas, his Slideshare, Google and WordPress blog all rank on the first page for his name as well.
Lastly, in order to accomplish this, all you need to do is start sending some branded and generic backlinks to your social profiles. The more quality link juice and social shares they see, the higher they will continue to rank in Google.
Making the most of your brand identity
In summary, there are plenty of ways to use your brand power, story, and visual identity to reach more users and build a following in the process.
The most important thing is to have your brand identity and business in place – then all of the promotion and branding comes with it over time.
Be sure to run through each of the recommended tips and methods mentioned above to improve your brand reach and business ROI in the next several months to come.
Guest author: Zac Johnson is a world-renowned blogger and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space and has helped his readers generate millions of dollars online. He shares his story and guidance at ZacJohnson.com