Blog
21 March 2021

Brand Design – How To Stand Out In A Virtual World

Introduction

2020 was the year everything changed except this time it didn’t just affect a handful of people or countries, it affected the whole world. Those from the United Kingdom will no doubt remember Boris Johnson’s infamous “You must stay at home”, at least one of the times it was said! The impact that this has had on the public and businesses was unprecedented, with small and local businesses hit the hardest.

The response? Accelerated transition into the digital space and everything it can offer. Video calling, click and collect and internet connections lagging at the worst possible times, we all have our battle stories to tell. Whilst we will hopefully slowly start getting back to a world that somewhat resembles normal life, one thing is for certain – these digital services are here to stay.

So ultimately, for any organisation, whether it may be a start-up, SME or large outfit, your brand positioning activities must incorporate this new virtual world in order to stand out amongst the competition and be successful. So how exactly do we do this? In this week’s article we will discuss some of the key areas to hone in on to help generate success in this space.

Alongside website and app development services, DigiF9 offer branding and visual identity services. Interested? Get in touch at sales@digif9.co.uk today for a free, bespoke quote tailored to your requirements.

Importance Of Branding

Look at the price of that?!? “Yeah, but it’s a <insert mainstream brand name>”

One of my favourite topics I learned about in Business Studies was the concept of price elasticity. It essentially defines the psychological impact of the price of a product on the expected demand from consumers. Price Elastic products are those which the price has a direct impact on the expected demand, whereas Price Inelastic products see a negligible impact on demand when the price changes.

In theory, it makes sense as you can roughly group products into two areas – Price Inelastic products are your essential items (bread, water, fruit, etc) and Price Elastic products are your luxury items (phones, cars, bikes, etc).

But then you dig a little deeper and you start to see several unexpected items in the ‘Price Inelastic’ category that in theory don’t belong there. Let’s take the Apple iPhone for example, now whilst a large percentage of the population would class a phone these days as an essential item, smart phones all offer the same capability, particularly at the top end of the market. So how can the most expensive offering here be the most successful? Now we are starting to see the true value of a brand.

Company Logo

A picture says a thousand words, so make it count…

Lets start with the company logo. This has always been a key aspect for any business starting up to get right, as it is one of the most public facing aspects. This is the image you want to plaster across as many areas as possible to benefit from Brand Recognition – where the public instantly recognise your logo from your company. So why is this even more important in the virtual world?

Location, location, location. Think where users are most likely to see your logo now – on an app gallery, an app store, a social media profile picture and so on. The world has gone digital, and more and more people are using smart phones, laptops, and other devices to access the internet. So, the best chance of increasing brand recognition is to get your company’s logo online.

Social Media Presence

Use my code for a 20% discount below…

Speaking of this new digital world, isn’t it crazy how you can potentially earn more money as a social media influencer than you can as a graduate with a Master’s degree! A report from Inzpire.me actually went as far as to analyse 10,000 Instagram influencer accounts and calculated that an influencer needs around 42,500 followers to earn the UK average salary of £29,009 per year.

If your company isn’t on social media yet or has a very limited presence, what are you playing at? That old saying “Go where the money is… and go there often” rings true here. Admittedly this came from a professional bank robber but the point still rings true in this context. Advertising companies have shifted their focus from the more traditional means of advertising such as TV and radio adverts, to focus on where the largest pool of potential customers is every single day – social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube are some of the key challenges here to focus on. So how can we make this as streamlined and efficient as possible? Well using a tool such as Hootsuite, you can link up your social media accounts, schedule posts at a unified time and track the effectiveness of these posts all from one simple dashboard.

Diversification

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But who is going to carry all those baskets?

Whether told this at school, by our parents or even by a friend, at some point in our lives we have all probably heard this phrase about not putting all your eggs in one basket. Again, it makes sense right? As we are all on this crazy unpredictable journey we call life, so completely focussing on one pathway, for example becoming a professional athlete, can be a very dangerous tactic if you suffer a serious injury early on and have to scramble to find a plan b.

Now whilst I claim no affiliation to this individual, let me play devil’s advocate for a second. It is perfectly rational to have a number of back up plans, and alternative strategies, however this ultimately detracts attention and focus away from the primary area. In the context of business, a mechanic decides to diversify away from their primary service offering to offer web development services as well. Not only is this a brand-new market to their existing one, but they are unlikely to have the skills on hand to service both markets with their pre-existing setup, so will need drastic changes to fulfil this. A wild example I know but think about the underlying theme here. Diversification and alternative strategies are an important aspect to respect but they need to be relevant and linked to the primary strategy. Whilst the temptation is to do as many things as possible, you will ultimately become a jack of all trades but master of none. Focus on the areas that make you successful and reinforce your brand image around those areas. Otherwise, your company may end up with a reputation of one that “Does a bit of this and a bit of that” as opposed to “They do this.” Bam.

Reputation

Excuse me do you know who I am?!? Umm, no not really.

Reputations are a tricky aspect to perfect; they can take a long time to build up but just a few seconds to shatter. Digital reputations are no different to physical reputations, they need proper due care and attention to build and maintain. So how can you build up your reputation in the digital world? Enter the topic of SEO where you can focus on areas such as positive reviews, backlinks, as well as Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness (EAT) to improve how search engines categorise your website. Not only are these key areas to focus on from a search engine perspective, but users are also likely to look for reviews from real customers and understand the trustworthiness of your company prior to doing business. For more information on the topic check out our recent blog on Off-Page SEO.

Competition

It’s not about winning it’s the taking part that counts. Quote from someone who didn’t win.

No one likes a Monopoly, especially if you are losing in the game also! The best markets have real competition within them, pushing companies to competitively price, continually improve their products and service offerings at the benefit of the customer. No matter how successful your company is, you need to be aware of your competitors and new strategies so that you can respond accordingly. The term Unique Selling Point (USP) is often one of the most batted around in the world of business. You likely defined your USP when setting up your business, making a business case to an investor, partner or even just a close friend to verify that there is a market for your company. During competitor analysis you should routinely check if this USP is still valid, or if it needs some additional work. The last thing you want to be doing is talking about a USP that isn’t quite so unique after all.

Target Market

The odds of hitting your target dramatically increase when you aim at it.

Understanding your target market is one of the most critical aspects to building success with a start-up business. You will likely use a process such as the 5 W’s 1 H.

WHO:Who your customers are – their ages, genders, income and so on
WHAT:What are their interests, hobbies and needs and how will you fulfil this
WHEN:When customers are most likely to buy your products or services
WHERE:Where your customers are located and information about this area that is relevant
WHY:Why customers want to purchase from you or from a competitor alternatively
HOW:How your customers behave, what are their actions and purchasing habits

Understanding your target market is mission critical for any business to be successful, and the impact of a virtual world offers further challenges but also opportunity to expand your target market to more regions and even go global. Think back to the earlier discussion around Price Elastic and Price Inelastic products, mainly around luxury vs essential items. If you are in the luxury item category you are most at risk to spikes in environmental conditions completely outside of your control. Enter the pandemic where only essential services have stayed open throughout, and the so called ‘luxury’ services have been directly impacted. This should hammer home the point that you can be doing everything right with your business, but factors outside your control can still affect it. You should ensure that you have a full analysis done of these factors, potentially using the PESTLE framework to identify challenges that may directly or indirectly affect your business.

Conclusion

The importance of building a strong brand cant be overlooked for a start up or SME with big aspirations. Primary success factors are typically geared around gaining new customers and repeat business through strong customer satisfaction. Gaining that initial business and market presence however is typically geared around your brand recognition, where potential customers can quickly identify your company as a solution for their requirement.

The areas discussed in this article are strong aspects to focus on with building a brand identity for your organisation. Similar to areas such as SEO, Brand Identity should be viewed as a long term project, as anything related to reputation should be. If you would like to discuss any DigiF9 services; Website, App or Brand Design, get in touch at sales@digif9.co.uk today for a free, bespoke quote tailored to your requirements.