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Branding Your Online Business

By Shelley Graves, Online Business Solutions Specialist VirtualShelley.com


NOTICE: You DO NOT Have the Right to Reprint or Resell this Report! You Also MAY NOT Give Away, Sell, or Share the Content Herein Copyright Š 2012 VirtualShelley.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any informational storage or retrieval system without express written, dated and signed permission from the author. DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES: The information presented in this report represents the views of the publisher as of the date of publication. The publisher reserves the rights to alter and update their opinions based on new conditions. This report is for informational purposes only. The author and the publisher do not accept any responsibilities for any liabilities resulting from the use of this information. While every attempt has been made to verify the information provided here, the author and the publisher cannot assume any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Any similarities with people or facts are unintentional.

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


Branding is one of the most important aspects of building a successful business. Yet few people ever carefully sit down and dedicate time to figuring out their branding strategy. There's a reason that large multinational corporations have teams of people dedicated just to managing branding and nothing else. Branding is crucial, whether you're a solo-preneur or the CEO of a large corporation. Your brand image can make you or break you. THE IMPORTANCE OF A GREAT BRAND Having an intriguing and unique brand image will benefit you in several ways. First, it increases the chance that someone will buy your product. For example, imagine you're in the toiletries aisle at your local drug store. You noticed that Secret deodorant is selling for $4, next to it is Degree deodorant for $3, next to it is a no-name brand for $2. Which do you pick up and why? The vast majority of people pick up one of the brands they've heard of. They assume that because the company has a strong brand, the product is better and they have a higher chance of being satisfied with their purchase. This works the same way online business. If someone comes to your site and recognizes your brand, they're a lot more likely to buy from you than if they've never heard of you. Brand is one of the main reasons that Amazon.com can achieve 12% conversion rates. There's practically no other retail website out there that comes close - because they can’t match Amazon's brand image. Second, having a strong brand also helps you land clients/customers. Whether you want purchase advertising for your business, participate in a

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


joint venture, or purchase another website, having a strong brand will make a difference. Imagine that someone from Apple, Inc. called you to discuss a potential partnership opportunity. Would you pick up the phone? Now imagine that Joe Smith, who you've never heard of before, calls you to discuss the same thing. Who would you be more likely to accept a call from? Having a great brand also helps generate word of mouth traffic. People are more hesitant to talk about a no-name brand than to talk about a credible and well known brand. After all, when someone recommends something, they're putting their own credibility on the line. A great brand also helps you increase your type-in traffic. Type-in traffic is the traffic on your site from someone entering your website URL directly into their browser’s address bar. Brands like Zappos, Amazon, Borders, Toshiba, Apple, Microsoft, etc. get tons of type-in traffic. Brand leaders also get a huge boost in SEO. People link to strong, well known brands much more readily than no-name websites. This link preference translates to better rankings in the search engines, which could lead to more revenue. Finally, a strong brand helps boost your exit price. There may come a day when you'll want to sell your website or business. Having a strong brand will help you command a much higher price. An off brand website earning $100,000 a year might fetch $300,000 where as a highly respected website with a strong brand image could easily fetch $500,000, $800,000 or even more. Off brand websites are acquired for their revenue only. Strong brands are acquired by much larger companies for their strategic value. When Microsoft acquires Skype, when Amazon acquires Zappos or when Google acquires Android, they don't pay based on revenue; they pay for

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


the brand and the strategy. This works on a smaller scale too. Build your brand today and you’ll likely multiply your payday tomorrow. WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS A GREAT BRAND? A great brand is made up of many things. It includes your business name, your logo, your colors, the emotions the brand elicits, your slogan, "the word" and the USP. Let's go over each of these brand components in more detail. The Name There are a few different ways to decide on a name for your business. One way is to simply be practical. For example, "General Electric." Or "Good Housekeeping." "Entrepreneur Magazine." You’ll notice that these names are essentially descriptions of what the company does. The upside to this method is that anyone who hears the name instantly knows what the brand is about. The downside is that there's no mystique. It doesn't make a big impression. Another way to build a brand is to make a new word, or use an existing word in a somewhat amusing way. EBay, Google, Yelp and Yahoo are all good examples of this. The benefit of this is that if you can successfully brand it, you'll have an extremely strong brand. In addition, you'll very easily be able to trademark the name. You can also use a phrase or a regular name. For example, "Alexander Mann." Or "London's Best Fishing Supplies." These can work, but from a branding perspective they are not easy to remember and also they don't carry any mystique.

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


One final choice is to use a combination of a mysterious name and a descriptive name. For example, "The Facebook," later changed to just "Facebook," got its description from the college Facebook phenomenon. While it's not really a descriptive phrase, people can somewhat guess what the site is about based on the name. Target Emotions As you're building the rest of your branding materials, ask yourself what kind of emotions you want your brand to elicit. The emotions that a construction management consulting firm would want to elicit are going to be very different from a law firm's - and both are going to be very different than those of a beauty salon or catering company. Do you want someone to feel playful or serious? Should they feel intimidated by you, or should they feel like you're on their side? Should they feel inspired? Should they feel calm, or should they feel excited? The answers to these questions will determine everything else about your brand. The Logo A lot of times, your logo is the first glimpse of your company that your potential clients/customers will see. That’s why you want to make sure it’s a clear representation of the emotions you want to elicit (see above). If you can afford to, I recommend hiring a few different graphic designers to do rough drafts of your logo. Or you could hire just one designer and have them do a few different drafts. You can also use a service like 99designs to create a design contest, which can easily get dozens of submissions. An alternative and much less expensive option would be to use Fiverr to order a bunch of $5 logos and pick the one you like best.

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


You'd be surprised at the level of quality you can get through these lowcost outsourcing methods. No matter which way you go, you should evaluate the logos based on their ability to produce the emotions you want. Test them on your friends and family to see which they like best. If you're running a medical site, you might ask yourself whether or not the logo inspires trust and credibility. If you're running a toy store, you might ask yourself whether the logo creates a fun vibe. The Colors Your logo's colors and your business website should be the same or very similar. Ask yourself: What emotions do these colors bring out? Do they match my target emotion? Ideally, a logo should have just one or two colors. It's very rare that a logo succeeds with three or more colors. For example, Coca-Cola's is red and white. Yahoo's is just red. AT&T's is just blue. While you can definitely find exceptions, such as Google's rainbow-colored lettering, successful logos tend to be either one color or two. The "Word" In the beginning stages of building your brand, some folks may have vague associations with your brand. They'll remember your last ad campaign, or they'll remember that YouTube video you were in recently. In time, however, your brand will be boiled down to just one word. That one word is what will describe your business.

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


Rolex is "quality." Verizon is "strong signal." Coca Cola is the "original" soda. So on and so forth. If you don't consciously identify what this word is for you, your customers/clients will do it for you. Don't send confusing messages about what your "word" is. Take time to think about it. Then project it. The Slogan and USP Use a slogan or a tagline to express something that's unique about your company. Something you provide that nobody else does. The worst way you can use a slogan or tagline is to use it generically, or make it sound like every other slogan out there. For example, a slogan like "The #1 in Customer Service" or "The Best X on the Web" is useless, unless that's truly your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). If Nordstrom made customer service their slogan, they'd get away with it, because that's their brand. If Macy's did, it probably wouldn't work, because that's not what Macy's is known for. What is your Unique Selling Proposition? Domino's slogan used to be "Hot pizza to your door in 30 minutes or it's free." It clearly expressed the unique proposition that Domino's had to offer. Rhythmic slogans like "We love to see you smile" (McDonald's) or "My heart to yours" (Pillsbury) work great for large companies. While you can also do this, usually a smaller business would benefit more from a USP-based tagline than a tagline that just sounds good. Finally, stay on top of any events in the world that could affect your brand image. Take BP in the United States. No matter what kind of logo BP takes on, no matter what slogan or what colors they use, they'll always be the Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


company that spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico. That's what their "real" brand is, at least in the USA. Likewise, after "Supersize Me" McDonald's is going to have a very hard time branding themselves as the place families go to bring their kids for a fun, healthy meal. That used to be their primary branding tactic. However, because of events that shifted health awareness, that doesn't work anymore. Be aware of events that involve your company. If you try to ignore them and go on branding as if they weren't there, you'll commit brand suicide. HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR BRAND Building your brand is really all about consistently putting out the same message, again and again over time. The more ways you can share the message about your brand, the better. Use Facebook. Use Twitter. Use blogging. Use podcasting. Put out videos on YouTube. Participate in joint ventures. Submit guest blog posts on a regular basis. Do interviews. Appear on internet radio shows. Do everything in your power to get your name and your brand's name in front of as many people as possible. Use your logo and your tagline everywhere you can. Put it on your Facebook page and on your Twitter profile page. Use it on your website and at the bottom of emails. Any time you're being interviewed, introduce yourself with your website name. For example, "Hi everyone, I'm Shelley from VirtualShelley.com, today I'm here to talk about ..." A brand isn't built overnight. A brand is not only a professional website or a fancy logo. Instead, a brand resides in the collective minds of your target market.

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


What most of your target market thinks about your company is your brand. If most people think you're credible, you have a credible brand. If most people think your products are affordable, then affordability is part of your brand. The best way to get your brand message out there is to consistently remind people of what your company stands for. Put some time into getting press attention. Landing yourself in the press can be a huge plus for your business and your brand. It can be difficult in the beginning stages to get media attention. Just focus on contacting reporters and journalists one by one, based on stories they've written before. Don’t spend a lot of time on press releases; instead focus on making direct contact. Contact journalists only when you have something you’re sure they'd truly be interested in. Think about your business from their point of view: would what you're up to catch anyone’s attention? If so, you may have a good story angle. Finally, product quality makes a huge difference. You might be able to get sales in the short term with strong marketing and mediocre products, but in the long run that'll kill your business brand. Deliver top-notch products with great service. Your products and your overall customer experience are a huge part of your brand. Building up a brand takes time. By the time you have a strong brand, you should be able to walk into a room filled with people from your target market, introduce yourself and have at least half of the people recognize your brand. They should know what your company stands for, and what your USP is compared to your competitors. If you're in a room full of people in your target market and nobody has ever heard of you, then your branding needs some work. Don't worry -

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


just consistently put your message out there, provide top-notch products and great service and your brand will grow. LIVING UP TO YOUR BRAND The initial process of building up your brand is, in a way, all about creating expectations. A credible brand means people expect certain results to be delivered, time after time. An affordable brand means people expect a certain price. So on and so forth. One big mistake to avoid is going against your brand's message, even if you think it'd be good for business. Take Starbucks for example. Starbucks' main value proposition is the service and the atmosphere of the cafe. People go to Starbucks to socialize with the baristas and to meet friends. The company was built on people first, coffee second. Then, Starbucks went through a period of extreme growth where a new store was being opened just about every day. Instead of focusing on people, management focused on Wall Street. Customers weren't having a good experience, yet nobody took responsibility for changing that. The brand quickly deteriorated and in a few years Starbucks started to flounder. Eventually, Starbucks hit crisis mode. Howard Shultz, Starbucks' former CEO decided to step back into the fray. The first thing he did upon stepping back up to the plate was to reinstate customer service as the number one priority, not managing the stock price. After a couple years, after many store shutdowns and after many new employee programs, Starbucks got back on track, rebuilt their reputation for creating a rich atmosphere and became profitable again. Branding isn't just about building a brand up from scratch. It's also about maintaining and living up to your brand. Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


Be aware of what your customers expect from you and always provide just that. Never try to be something you're not. Coca-Cola is known for being the original cola. One of the big reasons why "New Coke" failed was because people simply didn't want Coke to be new and exciting - they wanted to know what Coke tasted like, and they wanted it to taste the same with every meal. Southwest Airlines' brand is based on being the lowest fare airline. Virgin Air on the other hand is based on providing a high quality flight experience. The message coming out of these two companies and their respective marketing tactics are going to be very different. Southwest should never try to be Virgin and vice versa. This applies to huge multi-nationals, as well as small online brands. It applies to people as well. If you're not naturally a jolly person, don't go on YouTube and put on a fake smile. Instead, learn to project your natural personal brand, your natural personality. We've covered a lot. We've talked about what a brand is, how it can benefit you and all the various components that make up a strong brand. We've also talked about how to build a brand as well as how to maintain a brand once you've built it. The next step is for you to take this knowledge and turn it into an actionable branding plan. Write out your branding goals and create a step-by-step process for getting you and your business there.

Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


Shelley is a Business Solutions Specialist who helps female entrepreneurs successfully build, maintain & promote their online business using unique social media and internet marketing strategies. As their Business Solutions Specialist, she also works with them to set up effective workflow processes that ultimately lead to more efficient business operations.

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Copyright 2012 VirtualShelley.com ~ Online Busines Solutions for Female Entrepreneurs


Branding Your Online Business  

Branding is one of the most important aspects of building a successful business. Yet few people ever carefully sit down and dedicate time to...

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