Digital marketing must be part of the brand building process in 2021

Julaine Speight, director of First Internet, says digital can no longer be an afterthought – this is where the majority of consumers first engage with a brand.

When it comes to building a brand, the website and online presence should now be at the center of decisions.

The brand of a company is so important. This is the company’s philosophy, its culture and ethics, its products, its team, customer service, its corporate reputation.

The logo, colors, fonts and design details are the visual representation of this brand. They must work together to grab the customer’s attention, generate recognition and develop loyalty.

Getting it right is vital

It is therefore natural that the creation of a brand often involves so many people. It is a fantastic process and not something that can be done in a short period of time. A brand and its visual representations will hopefully be with a business for a while, in various forms, so getting it right is important. The problem with a lot of people involved is that the water is muddy – and it’s not always the right people.

Sometimes we marketers tend to get too caught up in the creative side of things. Most people don’t work in marketing. They might not appreciate the time it takes to decide on the background, color choice, font, or the symbolic way the crest rises above the dot on the i.

Instead of focusing on design, perhaps the main focus of any brand creation should be the audience. It might be best to keep it simple and focus on what the branding really needs to achieve.

It has to be memorable and work on a range of channels. According to Forbes, presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. If your product packaging, social media posts, website, and promotional materials send a consistent message about your brand’s identity and core values, things will likely be better for your business. Look at Amazon. Their logo is barely Van Gogh, and their homepage isn’t at all “pretty” – but it really works.

Digital: the first stopover

We are in 2021. We live in the digital age. Most people interact with brands online, through websites and social media. Branding must therefore work online – and it must guide the public to take the desired action. Features like white space, placement of calls to action above the waterline, shopping carts or prominent logins are the highlights of website design.

It takes 50 milliseconds for someone to form an opinion about a business based on their online presence. The brand could look great, convey a philosophy, tell a story and cook up a four-course meal – but if the calls to action are lacking, whether it’s a contact button or an ‘add to the basket ”easy to find, then the story becomes irrelevant.

The role of your website, quite simply, is to generate requests or sales. It is a commercial tool. And if these CTAs are missing in the interest of a “clean design” or the like, then they don’t work as one because you are actively opposing the user journey.

That’s why brand building meetings should include the digital marketing team. The website cannot and should not be an afterthought: it is an extremely important part of a business transaction.

A brand creation meeting should include the client, the brand designer, a technical developer, a UX specialist and a digital marketer. This design will undoubtedly be used in several other applications as well, but a bulletin board, newsletter, or editorial staff will not be stopped by these branding decisions. A website will.

Interagency meetings can be brilliant, creative sessions – as long as everyone remembers the end goal. It cannot be an ego trip. A website needs to look good, appeal to the customer, and get the business message across, but it also needs to impact bottom lines by being functional and focused on sales or inquiries.

Style rather than function is meaningless. The brand has to work for your business – otherwise it’s just a pretty image.

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