Online Branding: From Company to Brand

Online Branding: From Company to Brand

Targeted online branding ensures increasing brand awareness and more sales. But what makes good branding? Leonardo Lemos Rilk from our partner VIERLESS shows you how you can become distinctive and (even) more successful with your corporate identity and the right strategy.

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated digitalization in many areas. During the pandemic induced lockdowns and the periods between them, people's social lives were severely curtailed. Meeting friends, attending events and sporting activities, going to restaurants – basically everything we took for granted as a leisure activity before March 2020 wasn't possible for months. What remained was the escape into the big wide world of the internet.

During the lockdowns, a major European newspaper, the FZA, reported a peak in the use of streaming platforms and activity on social networks – a trend that continues to this day. People are looking for distraction and activity. They shift their activities to the internet to satisfy a basic need for entertainment, communication and participation. Because most people are not loners, but rather oriented towards a life within communities.

Some companies recognized this need of online users as a trend early on and took appropriate measures to position themselves well on the internet. Through the early and targeted implementation of online marketing measures, these companies were able to secure a competitive advantage that has generated a leading position for them in their market segment to this day.

Online virality

The development and application of strong concepts and strategies for the acquisition of potential customers or interested parties have paid off and have paid into the awareness of the company by using the potential of "online virality" advantageously for the own industry establishment.

New customers or existing customers?

We shouldn't forget one essential marketing principle that's incredibly relevant in this content: acquiring new customers costs money, while existing customers bring money. This principle is fairly easy to grasp. Existing customers have already built up a bond with the company and therefore no longer pay attention to every euro they spend more on the product or service with the company they're already familiar with.

For new customers, on the other hand, the price is the main criterion. They want to know their expectations are being served to get the best possible result at the lowest price. They carry out intensive price comparisons in the market and are deterred from making a purchase even by small price differences. Existing customers have already been convinced by the company of the quality and price of the products or services and they were satisfied.

To attract potential new customers' attention and buying interest, you often need a relatively high investment that's not in proportion to the results. Quite a few companies allocate a large budget and personnel resources for their marketing efforts. Classic offline and online advertising or special campaigns are designed to generate new customers on a larger scale.

Low investment in customer retention

The costs for the marketing measures extend to the management also involved in these tasks. These expenses also lead to a measurable reduction in the company's profits. Only a fraction of these investments is spent in maintaining customer loyalty in existing customers. Nevertheless, customer satisfaction remains at a high level and the company's profit margin moves into a more lucrative range.

This imbalance raises an important question. What is the right, and hopefully profitable, approach to achieve the right balance between existing and new customers? The answer to this question is to use your branding. Branding is a successful marketing tool that can work wonders, especially in combination with online marketing.

Leading companies in their market segment, e.g. Amazon, Coca Cola, Starbucks and Apple, rely on this combination to significantly increase the customer loyalty of existing customers with a plannable strategy and to bind new customers to the company in a targeted manner. Moreover, the branding can be individually tailored to the company's own philosophy and aligned with its visions and goals.

What is branding anyway?

Branding can be briefly defined as the establishment of a brand through the use of targeted advertising measures. The intention is to associate the brand or the product with certain messages, signs or objects so that the company or the product becomes recognizable. Successful branding can be recognized by the fact that customers ideally develop an emotional and positively charged relationship with the product and identify with the brand or have, at least, become accustomed to it in a positive sense.

Corporate branding

Branding pursues the goal of "burning" the brand and the associated image into the consciousness of customers - as the English meaning of the word already suggests. This process is also referred to as "brandmarking" or "corporate branding.

The global players listed above have a very successful corporate branding. They've not only given their product an image, but have also developed a strong brand that stands for the entire company. The brand unites customers, employees and shareholders alike, and enables them to identify with the company.

Brands can inspire with their message, offer orientation or sometimes even bemuse. Appropriate online branding measures increase the value of the brand and make it unmistakable. It's already been proven that the more one's own brand gains strength, the less susceptible the company is to price pressure on the market.

A good example of this is the Apple company and brand. Brand perception and the associated general brand image of the company have increased so much since 2011 that many customers don't even question the very high product prices compared to competitors. They buy the products and services because it's Apple, because they identify with the philosophy and image of the Apple brand.

Sometimes the behavior is ludicrous when "Apple disciples" line up in front of Apple stores the day before a product launch to be the first to hold the latest product in their hands. A similar phenomenon exists with luxury fashion companies. Here, brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada sell their customers not only products, but a complete lifestyle. These companies have a reputation among the masses as luxury brands and premium brands without even having to mention the products.

Branding and its advantages

Branding creates trust

Ideally, you want customers have a good feeling when they think of the brand. Competence, authenticity and transparency are of great importance for a strong customer relationship, which is also expressed in strong customer loyalty. By presenting these qualities, a company with a high recognition value can establish itself in its market for the long term. The positive brand loyalty can be used much more easily and effectively for upselling and/or cross-selling at a later stage.

Branding motivates employees

From the company management to the specialist departments to the trainees, there should be a uniform external image. With everyone representing the brand with pride. This is because the strength of the brand not only has an effect on the customers, but also within the company itself. Motivated staff who contribute and participate are priceless. Your own team should also support the company's goals and identify with the brand so that the inner attitude can be seen from the outside.

Involving all employees according to their abilities and giving them responsibility and freedom to make decisions pays off in the long run for the value of the brand. Newcomers and interested people on the labor market appreciate these values that make up a strong brand. If the brand is literally carried by all employees, this creates a positive perception from the inside out, which has a noticeable effect on the attractiveness and value.

Branding increases reach and generates more sales

More than ever, successful branding leads to increased awareness. Online trade of products and services is steadily increasing. More and more people are shifting their purchases to the internet. Companies who are present online with a professional website and active on social media have a clear competitive advantage and can expand their reach.

The online presence should follow a clear concept in which all measures follow a common thread. The brand message and extended reach can be used in a targeted manner to achieve high impression numbers, which inevitably leads to an increase in sales.

Leonardo Lemos Rilk and Julian Witzel designing the new VIERLESS website

Which paths lead to good branding?

At the beginning there is storytelling. What is the story behind the company, its products or services? This is also about answering the "Why? What requirements are being solved and what added value do customers receive from the product? How can these messages be communicated as simply and comprehensibly as possible?

The various external communication channels must be individually analyzed and given the right amount of text, images, video and audio. The entire presentation must correspond to the brand communication and become an unmistakable experience. Satisfied customers pass this experience on to their communities, which is another way to generate new customers. The influence of analogue or digital word-of-mouth and customer reviews is very important on the internet.

In order to maintain a unique position in the respective market segment, attention must be paid to a consistent brand perception right from the start. A clear strategy with a coherent message, which has been developed holistically in advance, leads to a successful appearance in interaction with the uniform and authentic presentation of a company's products or services. The prevailing stimulus overload in the style of "buy now" creates a longing among consumer groups for relevant content that is communicated in a contemporary form and appropriate to the target group.

Quite a few companies have a good online marketing performance, but forget the branding aspect. Even the best advertising burns capital if it's not backed by a strong, trustworthy and reputable brand. Online branding, also called "digital branding", pursues a well thought-out strategy to build up brand communication on the internet. The means of social media, PR, SEO/SEA and content marketing are used to increase the visibility of the brand on the internet and brand awareness in equal measure.

Customer touchpoints

For your customers, this means an individualized brand experience. The multitude of measures gradually leads to an increase in customer touchpoints.

Online branding and social media

Social media is currently the means to significantly increase the number of customer touchpoints. The structure of social media allows you to communicate continuously with your target group. This both strengthens the brand and takes the opportunity to present the company transparently on the web. It makes sense to spread the founding story and the purpose via social media – not only for start-ups or new businesses.

This process is called "document your journey" by Gary Vaynerchuck, a multi-entrepreneur and author from the USA. The intertwining of social media and branding gives the company more substance and brings the brand closer to the target group. Social media is closely linked to the topic of influencer marketing. Prominent influencers usually have a large reach, but their target group is rather inhomogeneous and unspecific so that the expected conversions often fail to materialize.

Using micro influencers

Micro influencers have a smaller but more specific following. If the company's target group largely matches these followers, a higher conversion can be achieved in relative terms.

A third group is formed by the so-called corporate influencers. Cooperation with this type of influencer is particularly recommended for small start-ups and newer companies. Corporate influencers are employees from the companies themselves who are specifically trained and represent the brand credibly online.

This method has proven to be very efficient because the direction remains in the hands of the company and the posts, stories and other postscan be produced according to the company's goals. The company is thus in control of how and with what information it wants to be perceived by the target group.

Corporate influencer marketing

Corporate influencer marketing also offers the advantage of increasing awareness and improving the image by focusing on a specific area and also generating interest and sales. Interest in the brand can be further increased through organic search engine optimization. Google uses this ranking to assess the value of a brand.

Google is now able to rank content according to relevance, expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Professional branding takes these aspects into account and thus ensures that the important metrics and parameters established by Google are served. These include, for example, the length of time users spend on the online channels and their return rate. In principle, corporate influencer marketing pursues the same goals as a high-quality website, which is considered a solid basis for an online presence.

The importance of an appealing online presence is becoming increasingly important for companies. The combination of branding and target group-oriented online marketing is the key to success. One's own company is now only a few clicks away from competitors, so one's presence on the Internet must win over users within a few moments and invite them to stay.

Highlight unique selling points

By presenting the company's own identity, the presence becomes distinctive and helps to stand out from the uniformity of other providers. Brands that have unique selling points are recognized and appreciated by their target group. Through a targeted strategy and building on these unique selling points, they can use the competitive and market advantages for themselves.

In summary, branding helps you get answers to these questions with appropriate measures:

  • What kind of public perception do I want my brand to have?
  • What are the unique selling points of my brand?
  • What is my target group and how do I address them?
  • Which topics should my brand actively communicate to the public or for the target group?
  • What are the criteria for my brand communication?
  • Does my intended brand perception match the existing brand guides such as logo, content and color choice?

A powerful web presence combined with individual branding and performance marketing that goes with it elevate the company to a higher level – and this is how your company can become a brand.

Contributed image: Unsplash / MagicPattern

Your questions about online branding

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