Although brands themselves vary greatly from one to the next, all of them have the same essential elements at their core. If these brand elements aren’t well done, they can poison the well for any businesses associated with them. However, when these elements are well-executed, they can serve as the perfect launching pad for an incredibly successful brand and online business.
Here are five essential brand elements (and how to get them right):
1. Brand name
Whether it’s dropped in conversation or read on a page, your brand name is going to be everywhere. So be very cognizant of how your brand name sounds when said out loud and how it looks on the page; even a single letter can make all the difference.
- For example, the prefix info- typically signals something involving information. But what if you decided you didn’t like the o and changed that prefix to inf-? Then you end up with brand name that may remind people of words like infamy, infest and inferno.
Furthermore, if you’re considering expanding internationally, try to translate your brand name and make sure there aren’t any unfortunate translations. Did you know, for instance, that Gerber means to vomit in French slang? Yikes.
People naturally react more quickly to images than text, so it’s essential that your logo visually expresses your brand’s message. Keep in mind that any image you choose is already saturated with meanings and associations, even if you try to be as unique as possible.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should completely forego common images and create something completely new. Instead, use the associations that already come with images to your advantage.
Although it’s much less visual than the previous two elements, the style in which your brand communicates with its customers is integral to its success. Unlike your brand name and logo, this aspect is difficult to get glaringly wrong (unless you throw all common sense and courtesy to the wind). On the flipside, it’s very difficult to get just right.
The key here is look to two things:
- Your target audience and how you want them to feel. Pull inspiration from the way your target market communicates on the web and what kind of content they’re drawn to.
- Then think of what your goal is, whether it’s to flatter them, inform them, and so on, and temper your message from there.
With the online marketplace as large as it is, differentiation is key. Your brand needs showcase what makes it stand out from the competition. Whether that means a more specific product line, friendlier customer service or your support of a social cause, making sure your brand stands out is a necessity. Take Hillbilly Stills, a home-distilling equipment company, for example. From their name and brand voice alone, it’s readily apparent this business is targeting a particular market. Furthermore, they offer a very specific kind of product, and have many variations on it.
Every single branding element, including your logo, slogan and tone must work together to achieve your overall brand message. Otherwise, you’re not building and strengthening your brand, but muddling it and making it less memorable.
It’s worth noting that a cohesive brand doesn’t necessarily mean a brand that’s so single-mindedly focused on consistency that it’s exactly the same at all times. Instead, a cohesive brand is versatile and can adapt to different platforms and audiences while still maintaining its identity.
- To keep your communication cohesive, try putting together a style guide that takes into account different scenarios, like educating customers versus exciting them, and platforms, like a blog post versus a holiday card.
With a strong brand, your business can be sure to stand out in today’s ever-changing and ever-growing online marketplace. And in case you don’t get all the elements right the first time, don’t worry. Brands have been known to evolve, and online businesses are well-suited to keep up.
+Matt Winn is a Social Media Manager at Volusion, an industry-leading ecommerce software that powers online businesses for over 35,000 clients. Serving as the chief blogger for Volusion’s blog, The Ecommerce Authority, Matt has written hundreds of articles on all things ecommerce, ranging from social media to usability. Join him each week on Volusion’s YouTube channel for Two Minute Tuesdays, where you’ll receive two minutes of ecommerce advice to bolster your online success. You can also receive ecommerce news and tips on Facebook and Twitter @volusion.