Whether during an interview, in an ice breaker game, or on a first date, someone you’ve just met has likely posed you this exact question. (In case you’re wondering, mine are creative, determined, bad-at-math.)
Business leaders should do a version of this exercise when creating their digital brand strategy. Except, instead of three adjectives to describe their business, try more like twenty. Or forty. Or a hundred thoughtfully chosen adjectives to represent not just what they do but who they are.
A digital brand strategy dictates the way you communicate your brand’s identity across digital platform media. It’s crucial to solidifying your brand’s online persona and keeping your brand identity consistent across all platforms. The goal is to intrigue your audience, inspire them to trust you, and ultimately make a conversion. In terms of online marketing, you can’t have a digital marketing strategy without a brand strategy! Your brand should drive everything about your marketing initiatives: your audience, your outreach methods, your voice, your design style, even your stock photo choices.
Whether you’d like to revise your current digital brand strategy or start completely from scratch, here’s what you need to know to create a comprehensive brand profile that guides every marketing effort.
Why Is a Digital Brand Strategy Important?
Just like you identify with various groups based on your traits and hobbies that help you make new friends, companies should have a brand identity that makes them interesting to prospective customers. For example, I’m likely to get along with other running enthusiasts who love cats and have an insatiable sweet tooth. Your company needs to have a strong sense of self across every digital channel to find and hit it off with your new best friends, i.e., people who want or need your services.
A brand strategy is important because it’s a consistent reflection of who you are across all digital media and online platforms. Also, it dictates which marketing channel you should focus on to reach your target buyer persona. If your company develops an app to help young adults manage their finances, TikTok and Instagram are great places to make a great first impression. If your company caters to the c-suite, you may have better luck on LinkedIn and with email marketing campaigns. Once you have your audience, a consistent and engaging voice will keep those new followers around and turn them into a crowd of loyal customers.
Be sure you’re happy with your brand positioning before broadcasting it to the world. Remember, your brand strategy affects how everyone will think of you for the foreseeable future. It should reflect the essence of your organization beyond your products or services. Who are you really? What are your values? What makes your business unique?
What Should a Digital Brand Strategy Include?
To make sure your new digital brand strategy is holistic and three dimensional, refer to this list of brand strategy musts while you’re creating yours. Once you’re able to check off these components, you’ll have a great idea of your brand’s online identity and how you can best use it to attract potential customers and form online marketing initiatives to match.
- Content style guidelines. A consistent style and voice are imperative to presenting an unwavering and recognizable persona for your organization. For example, if you have a lit TikTok account, but your website blog is buttoned up and overly authoritative, your followers and potential customers may be confused about if they followed the right link. Established style guidelines in the hands of every employee keep everyone on the same page and ensure that every representation of your brand matches your intended overall impression.
- In-depth content and product competitor analysis. An analysis of not only your product competitors, but also your content competitors, is key for two reasons. First, researching who else is in your sphere will alert you to who you’re up against and serve as inspiration on what bits and pieces of your competitors you like and would like to adapt for your goals and company brand strategy. Secondly, an analysis of the competitor landscape will highlight how you’ll have to differentiate your brand persona to stand out. Your prospective audience is a smart bunch, and they’ll know if the look and feel of your digital presence is too similar to someone else’s. No one is impressed by a copycat.
- Audience profile. Determine your target audience and find out what makes them tick. How do they prefer to get information? On what platforms are they most active? What do you hope they do online when they interact with your digital presence across social media accounts or on your website or ecommerce portal? Get inside the head of your ideal buyer persona and create a brand strategy roadmap to track a day in their life.
In the case of BlackBerry, the company needed an entirely new and rock-solid brand strategy to reach a new audience. Back in the 2010s, BlackBerry cellphones were in the pockets of high- powered businesspeople and my sorority sisters alike. Fast forward a decade, and BlackBerry has an entirely new audience and business model: cybersecurity solutions for IT experts. Total familiarity with your customer allows you to market to them most effectively and make the most out of your marketing department’s time and resources.
- Business goals. What exactly do you want to achieve? It’s a broad question, but a necessary one business leaders should ask themselves when building a digital brand. Do you want to boost revenue? Build product awareness? Gain more respect in your industry? This is where performance marketing is helpful, because it assigns concrete values to your goals to determine whether your efforts were successful. If they were, your goal values let you know how to push yourself to get even better. If your efforts were not successful, goal values alert you to what needs to change so you can improve in the future.
- Thoughtful, unique company values. Do you have a net zero plan in the works? Are you committed to sourcing vegan ingredients? Do you give back to a local nonprofit? Say so! Your website doesn’t have to be all business all the time. A key part of brand loyalty and brand recognition is having an identity beyond your product or service. Unless you have a monopoly or your business is truly one-of-a-kind, there’s likely several competitors vying for the attention of the same population. The trick is to stand out any way you can. Back to the Blackberry example, when they completely shifted their business identity, their legacy of reliability remained as a pillar. Name recognition and their reputation for trustworthiness and security made their B2B strategy remastering a successful endeavor.
Where Does a Digital Brand Strategy Intersect with a Digital Marketing Plan?
A quick way to tell the difference between a digital branding strategy and a digital marketing strategy is that a company is defined by their branding and they use marketing as a loudspeaker to amplify their brand across as many relevant channels as possible. Your brand should shine through everything you publish externally (and internally too).
Integrated marketing—a multi-channel marketing approach that revolves around achieving business goals—is an excellent way to disseminate your message far and wide. Steered by your brand guidelines, you can build a targeted marketing campaign that’s authentic to your digital branding.
Brand Building = Being You
We’re not going to downplay its importance: Creating a unique digital persona for your company is a big deal. It’s an especially daunting task when you look at your competitors and they seem to have personality oozing out of their digital seams. The most important piece of advice we have is to be authentic to yourself and don’t try to stuff your company into a box into which it won’t fit. Be you. Be bold. Get your message out there.