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Brand Positioning is Key to Online Success

Tom Howlett

by Tom Howlett on 3rd September 2013

Brand positioning - key to success onlineUsually when a company wants to enter the online space they will find a way to create an online presence, generally in the form of a website and work hard to get the website live as soon as possible. This is usually met with a disappointing flow of visitors to the website and a lack of website leads/conversions.

There are many aspects of brand positioning that are often overlooked and can be significant to ultimate success online. This is true for both new websites and existing websites. Is your business making these mistakes that are killing your online potential?

Branding

This is likely something that needs to be down on paper before any form of online presence exists. If you already have a presence online, do you understand your brand values or how you want yourselves to come across to new and existing customers? If so, is this something that is portrayed on your existing marketing channels?

Here are some things you may want to consider.

Value

Value is probably one of the most important underlining factors when it comes to brands and how they are viewed or interacted with online. Firstly you need to understand the value that you offer consumers – is there a need or want for this value and is this value portrayed throughout your online and offline presence?

For example, if you are a company who manufactures pencils – do you create the Rolls Royce of pencils or does your value come in the form of low prices.

Another example, imagine a website for a self-employed plumber. The value generally comes in the form of speed and effectiveness of the services offered, however people will likely want to see you – who you are, your background and your expertise (you are the brand). This helps portray the value you offer and can definitely help improve the chances of success online.

Are You Memorable?

A good, well thought out brand should be memorable and positioned in such a way that it springs to mind when an individual requires a product or service you offer.

Are You Unique?

If there are thousands of companies who offer the same products or services as you do, how do you set yourselves apart from the rest of the bunch? If you do not offer anything unique or give consumers a reason to choose you – you will find success difficult.

The same goes for company/brand names – if you have a name that is relatively generic or is taken by a number of other companies across the world you may be fighting initially to be found. Try to be as unique as possible to overcome that initial competitor obstacle.

Full of Stock

More and more often I am seeing brands fill their websites with generic stock images and photography that doesn’t really do anything to help their brand succeed online.

Images are definitely a good thing to have on a website to break up the text and to make the website visually appealing. It is relatively easy to create your own images with a little bit of creativity and by using a number of free tools such as PicMonkey, GIMP, Instagram and many more.

Think about how images can be used as a tool to enhance your brand image.

Your Voice

Do you have a voice online that is unique to your company and its employees and portrays the passion you have for the work you do?

This is a good way to show that you have a passion for what you do. This is usually reflected in the products and services you offer and often results in a more positive experience for customers.

How do you ensure this voice is heard?

Other than carefully considering the page level text on your site, blogging is a great way of continually creating new material that will also show who you are and how you work as a company. This can highlight your expertise, knowledge, personalities and help position yourselves as an authority within your industry.

Reviews

Many businesses tend to also hide behind a wall of reviews online, even though the legitimacy of those reviews can sometimes be questioned. Does your brand image backup these reviews and do you come across in such a way so that potential customers are unlikely to question this legitimacy?

Page One Domination

What I mean by page one is essentially referring to the page one of results on Google, Bing and other popular search engines and how your brand is positioned when people search for your name. See the video below for more details on page-one domination:

Transcript

Consider how competitive it is within the search engines for branded searches. This goes back to having a ‘unique’ name as for more competitive brand names people may struggle to find you online.

If your brand is not competitive, can people easily find you online? Also consider what pages are ranking for common searches associated with your brand.

Of course you will want your main website ranking – other resources you could get ranking include social profiles, external reviews and other websites owned. Out of these, pick those which represent your brand as you wish to and work with those, this is particularly important as more and more people tend to be researching brands before deciding to commit to a purchase.

You and Your Team

Sometimes knowing who is behind the company is just as important as the brand itself. With most people using some form of social media, it is likely that most company owners and employees are also on these platforms. With a little bit of research, people can usually discover who is behind a company/website, so you might as well use these assets to your advantage to build brand trust and loyalty.

Your Visibility

I always find it interesting to learn who is behind the company in question, how they started and what values they have. At the same time, I find it odd when a website does not mention anything related to the owners and instead just presents a faceless brand.

Knowing who is behind the company can instantly improve its trustworthiness. Added to this, if the owner is some sort of authority within the industry you are much more likely to believe that the business as a whole can deliver what they say they will.

For example, a health supplements website. If I know that the owner is a leading nutritionist with many years of experience within the field, I am more likely to see the website as a trustworthy source of these products.

Team Visibility

So visitors to your website know a little bit about who is behind the business or website, but are they able to see the company employees? This is a really good way of humanising your brand and creating an overall brand value. It is easier to connect with these brands on a level where you trust the information they are putting out.

Team Characteristics

As well as displaying the team on your website, is there any information about each individual to help others establish who they are, what they enjoy and what their beliefs are. Again, this adds towards ensuring your brand is not a superficial creation only interested in raking in money, but a living breathing group of individuals creating value for the customer.

Skills

Skills are more important for some companies than others, for example for a web design firm you are probably interested in the individuals’ skills that someone of that company possesses to ensure they are capable of delivering your project to the level that is needed.

Rather than highlighting the skills of a few key individuals, it could pay off to highlight the well rounded skills of the team as a whole. This will make the company appear more capable of delivering a variety of tasks and more likely to overcome the challenges given to them.

Social Media

As well as ensuring that you let others see who is behind your business, you should encourage employees, directors and any others to create their own social media profiles. This will reinforce the personality of the people involved in the company and allows others to follow/engage with these people.

There are a number of ways of doing this. One of the best ways is to create branded accounts for each individual (on Twitter for example) so that each person has a platform to engage and interact within the community. Not only does this help humanise the brand but is multiplies the number of channels whereby people can connect with the brand.

Individual Voice

When referring to the employees of the company and their online presence, it is fine to set some guidelines as to what is and what is not acceptable in terms of how they portray the brand although you should encourage them to personalise their updates to let their personality shine through.

Contact

How easy do you make it for potential customers to contact you, whether this is through the website or via social media platforms? This can mean the difference between someone converting into a customer or looking to find something else that can deliver what they are after.

Someone may have a simple question about a service or product you provide, if they cannot easily contact you to get this question answered – they are going to look elsewhere.

Social is a quick and straightforward way to converse with current and potential customers. If you prefer to interact with customers on these platforms, specify this on your website.

Finding You

Do you give much thought to how people may discover you online or whether you have a presence on a platform where you’re expected to be seen? I have run into similar situations where I try to find a specific company on Twitter for example and cannot find them anywhere; this is quite frustrating at times.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Do you link to your social profiles from your website?
  • Choose appropriate names. Platforms like Twitter have limited characters for usernames, so choose one that would be easy for someone to find – ideally a similar name to your brand.
  • Take advantage of industry relevant social networks to help discovery
  • Have a presence where people expect you to be.

Where Are You Located?

Some companies avoid disclosing their physical location. Perhaps they do not wish customers to visit them in person or maybe they are operating from home and wish to be viewed as a larger business. There is however an element of trust associated with physical addresses, it shows that the business operates from a location where they can be contacted if needs be and aren’t likely to vanish of the face of the earth that easily.

You may need to consider whether withholding this information is actually benefiting your business.

There are situations where an individual may have a direct interest in where you are located. After initially discovering your business online, this individual may need to visit you in order to utilise your services – or maybe you are a plumber and they wish to know how local you are before considering your services. It sometimes pays to make this information clear.

If you are happy to disclose location information, here’s what you should do to take advantage of this:

  • Ensure you are listed on Google+ local (previously Google Places) to improve the likelihood of discovery within Google.
  • Display address information on each page of the site (helps improve local search visibility).
  • Utilise Rich Snippet mark-up for enhanced search engine listings.

To Conclude

A number of elements have been discussed here in regards to how you choose to represent your brand online. These form the backbone of your online success and if you make sure that you review these elements and optimise for the end user, you are likely to get much more from your website.

Have anything to add to this post? Let me know in the comments below.

Image Credit

Marketing Concept from Big Stock

Tom Howlett

Tom Howlett

If you’re looking for information on Link Building then read Tom Howlett’s posts. Tom has a specialist insight into link building strategies designed to improve website’s visibility and ranking. He will help you become a master in finding new link sources.

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