This is a guest post from Carie Barkhuizen, founder of Seymour PR, on building a positive brand identity during unusual times.
Your brand identity is how customers perceive you. During these unprecedented times, it can be more important than ever.
Right now, consumers are sensitive, exposed and changing their purchasing behaviours. Being confined to the home means we’re inevitably scrolling, browsing and consuming much more information than we usually would. In fact, a generation that hasn’t typically engaged with digital media is learning to do so in order to stay connected with the outside world.
For businesses of all sizes, it’s now more important than ever for your digital presence to be strong, clear and active – whether you do business online or not.
It comes down to the fact that in today’s world, you are who Google says you are. Fact. A simple way to look at it is to view your online brand as a person; someone unique, with their own beliefs, values, look and feel. Your brand identity is what sets you apart from others.
However, the difficulty here, both now and outside of a global crisis, is that building an online profile can take time. And it can be costly. We are regularly approached by start-ups and small businesses who want to build their presence online but have limited budgets, which could potentially be even more limited when we come out the other side of COVID-19.
To help with this problem, my team at Seymour PR has partnered with digital marketing agency Brandlective to launch Profile Kickstarter; a service that offers businesses without huge PR and marketing budgets a means to quickly build brand identity online.
During the course of developing this service we’ve learned some lessons about what to consider when building an online profile:
1) Start with your story
We’re all consumers, so we know that the best brands are those that sell us an authentic story. Often, start-ups and small brands leave PR until the end of their marketing plan, which can have a major impact on the quality of storytelling that they can produce when the time is right. But the story is how we connect with a brand and ultimately what leads to purchasing decisions.
When telling your brand’s story, assess whether it includes some, or all, of the core news values; impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, bizarreness and conflict. Effective use of these values will guarantee your name in headlines.
Right now, timeliness is the most important. The world is feeling sensitive and rightly so. Don’t talk about how your brand helps with the commute, being promoted at work or family days out when the world is on lock down.
2) Be clear
To build a strong brand identity, it’s important to establish a clear mission statement and set of brand values from the get-go. Your brand must send a concise message across your website, social media, and all marketing and editorial materials.
3) Don’t be afraid of the little guys
We all want to see our name written on the pink pages of the FT, or the front cover of TIME. But when it comes to media, you’re most likely going to have to work your way to the top, so don’t dismiss smaller online media outlets.
4) The customer comes first
Your job is to be the solution to your customer’s problem. Sometimes, that means stepping outside your comfort zone. Stacey Kehoe, communications director at Brandlective said: ‘Around 79% of brands lack engagement online. You must remember it’s not about you, it’s about considering where your audience spends its time online. A common mistake that brands make is that they tell the right story on the wrong platform. Make sure you’re building your brand identity on a platform that your customers are actually using, rather than your favourite platform.’
More information on Profile Kickstarter can be found here.