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13/03/2020 | Tom Declat

Branding in the digital age

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We all have our favourite brands, whether it’s the coffee we drink in the morning, the car we drive to work, or the jeans we wear all day.

But other than the taste of your coffee or the label on your jeans, what makes a brand? 

And what’s a brand identity? And why is it important to your business?

Firstly, what is a brand?

A brand is the way a company is perceived by people who experience it. It’s more than just a name or logo. A brand is the recognisable feeling a product or business evokes in customers.

Some of this feeling will be factual (these are hard-wearing jeans), and some will be emotional (they’re for free-thinking, fun-loving rebels like me!). 

So bits of your brand like the name and logo exist objectively because people can see them. But your brand as a whole exists only in someone’s mind, because they bring their own ideas about what it means to them.

So what’s a brand identity?

Think of a brand identity as the face of your business. It’s how you tell potential customers who you are, what you stand for, what you care about and, ultimately, why they should choose your business.

So it’s the logo, right?

A logo is certainly an important part of your brand identity, but far from the only thing. It might be the first thing people think of, and good logos should be instantly recognisable. For example, most people could probably tell this brand by just a glimpse:

McDonalds Arches

No points for spotting it’s a section of the famous Golden Arches by McDonalds. The colours, the shape, the vibrancy all combine to make the logo instantly recognisable. But McDonalds’ brand identity is about more than the logo. There’s the tag line:

“I’m lovin’ it”.

And most of us could probably whistle their five note 'audio logo' too.

So already we have a logo, tag line and some music that are instantly recognisable as McDonalds. And we’ve not even mentioned Ronald yet…!

Your brand identity is much more than just your logo.

Brand identity is made up of the elements of a brand - such as color, design and logo - that identify and distinguish the brand in customers’ minds. 

It’s everything you use to communicate your business values, products and services, from the tone of voice and typography you use for writing, to the colour palette, photography and icons you might use in adverts.

Brand, brand identity and branding

Think of your brand as how your customers see you. 

Your brand identity is all the elements that communicate this, like your logo, tone of voice, website, and so on.

And branding is the creative process of designing and building your brand.

What is digital branding?

Digital branding is the face of your business online - arguably the most important place you’ll express your brand vision and values. In this day and age, it’s likely that more people will interact with your business over the web than they will in stores or in person. 

A digital brand identity is made up of the usual suspects: logo, tone of voice, colour palette, typography and so on. But these elements need to adapt to a different landscape than the real world. They need to work for you on your website, social media, online advertising, email marketing, search marketing, search engine optimisation, online PR and more. 

These digital elements all work together to form your online brand. And they have different rules and considerations to the ‘real’ world.

New rules: beautiful screens need beautiful images 

As smartphones dominate our online lives, branding imperatives shift. Many customers now have an iPhone (or similar) in their pocket, with a gorgeous edge-to-edge high definition screen. It can display photos, videos and content in never-before-seen crispness and clarity. To make the most of this amazing opportunity, brands need to raise their own standards, selling themselves, their products and their services using high quality design and content.

If your online brand experience doesn’t meet the standards modern consumers expect, your competitors are just a button click away. Investing in high quality design and content is essential.

New rules: scale and flexibility

In a digital world, brand identities need to be more flexible than ever. 

An Instagram icon is just 110 pixels square, yet you’ll still be aiming for brand recognition as people scroll through their feed. And if you’re doing any online advertising, you’ll need to catch people’s attention - perhaps with an eye-catching animation of your logo. 

Considering how your brand identity will work animated, and across a range of different formats - Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on - is essential. A specialist digital agency will know how to best handle and adapt your brand identity to this fragmented and fast-evolving landscape.

New rules: dialogues

Branding in the mobile age is less around making a big bang, and more about keeping up a constant dialogue, maintaining a conversation around both the expressed and unmet needs of customers.

This goes beyond your brand identity, and into the world of content strategy - one of the most important parts of digital branding, as it also supports your all-important Google ranking. 

Can you provide potential customers with useful information that will help them to find and engage with your products and services? When you do, you’ll need to ensure your brand uses a consistent tone of voice, and a recognisable style of images and video.

New rules: trust & relationships

Your digital brand is not there merely to push your products on to unsuspecting customers. The purpose of digital branding is to establish trust and build an online presence. 

But the web is a busy place, and you’ll need to get noticed. In an overcrowded marketplace, the best strategy is to be the company your customers actually want to buy from.

The way you conduct business online will shape how customers perceive your brand. Investing in good design and technology will help customers to have a positive experience of your digital brand, from an easy-to-use website to an effortless checkout process.

Get the basics right. Start today.

Whatever your business does, it’s critically important to get branding right online. Communicate and interact with potential customers better than your competitors, and you’ll reap the rewards. But underestimate the importance of digital branding, and you’ll be at a massive disadvantage.

Webreality have specialised in digital design and technology for 20 years. We know our stuff. If you’d like advice about how to get your brand performing online, just get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.