It can be easy to dismiss digital branding as something for flashy retail brands or corporate companies. When so much of your business is conducted on the tools and in person, thinking about branding can often be low on the priority list.
But the truth is, in today’s digital age, every kind of business can benefit from a polished online presence. If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that more of our lives are centred online than ever before – and that means it’s likely most of your new customers will first encounter your brand online.
As a result, it’s worth investing some time and resources to really nail that first digital impression. Whether you’ve just wrapped up your apprenticeship, or you’ve been around the block for a while and are looking to give your business a new lease of life, these four key steps will help you on your way!
Step 1: Define your brand blueprint
You wouldn’t set out to build a house without first knowing the lay of the land. The same should be true for your brand. Like any successful project, a certain amount of back-end work needs to be done before you start. This is where your brand strategy comes in. This will act like a blueprint for your business and provide you with a clear direction to build your brand around.
Maybe you already have a high-level idea of what your business is about but this is your opportunity to dig a little deeper. Start by asking yourself questions like: What do you stand for? What are your core values and mission? Who is your ideal customer and what do you want them to think and feel about your brand? What makes you special? What do you want to achieve in 10 years?
By getting as much clarity as possible on who you are as a brand and how you want to be perceived, the more you can infuse this into your digital branding and increase the chances of your business standing out.
Step 2: Build a brand identity
Now you’ve locked in who you are as a brand, it’s time to build the visual identity that will showcase it. The main objective here is to create something distinctive and memorable that will grab your customers’ attention.
Your identity encompasses all the visual and non visual elements that define who you are as a business, as outlined in your blueprint. From the fonts, colour palette and graphics on your website to the uniform you wear and even tone of voice you communicate with in emails or on social media – all these factors play a vital part in how customers perceive you.
Understandably, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with choices here, so a great starting point is to identify words you might use to describe your business and its brand personality. Are you professional or playful? Mature or youthful? Prestigious or approachable?
The answers to these questions will provide you with direction to draw inspiration from or narrow down your stylistic choices. For example, if your brand is bold and brave, you’re going to want a bold and brave colour palette and typeface to go along with it!
Step 3: Bring your brand to life
If painting houses is more your thing than designing logos, working with a professional designer can help you bring your new brand to life across all the touchpoints your customers may have with you.
This includes your digital assets like logo, website, marketing collateral, social media pages and email newsletters, as well as physical elements like your business cards, uniforms, van decals and packaging if you also sell a product.
Each of these components are an opportunity to make a lasting impression on your customers – so uniformity in your branding across them is key for fostering trust and credibility.
A designer should also be able to help you develop a brand style guide, which is a really helpful tool in creating this branding consistency. This guide will act as a single source of truth of all the do’s and don’ts for your brand across all the elements of your brand – whether online or offline.
Step 4: Amplify and add value to your digital brand
Word of mouth is always a tradie’s number one marketing tool so naturally your work (and now your sleek new digital brand) speaks for itself. However, there’s one final part of the puzzle to really ensure your trade’s business succeeds online. Social media advertising offers businesses a relatively low-effort, low cost, yet effective way to reach your target audience – but it’s not always just about the hard sell.
Customers have come to expect more from the brands they interact with online, so consider how you can also add value to your customers’ (and prospective customers’) lives beyond simply telling them about your business.
Whether you choose to use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest (or even TikTok!), posting educational and helpful content can help you build long lasting relationships with your customers. Content such as completed projects, helpful tips and tricks in relation to your specific trade can elevate you from service provider to trusted source of expertise and inspiration.
Having a strong digital brand is so much more than just standing out against your competition. A strong brand enables you to control how people perceive and experience your brand – it tells customers why they should choose you over any other options in the market. It can help you connect with your audience on a deeper level and create a sense of loyalty. Essentially, it’s what you need to make an impact and take your trades business to the next level!
Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing at 99designs
Shayne is Head of Marketing at 99designs, the global creative platform that makes it easy for designers and clients to work together to create designs they love. He is a wrangler of collaboration, diversity, and creativity who helps bring more opportunities to people all around the world.