Hey there sea changers and welcome back to my How to series of posts where we look at all things Affiliate Marketing and hopefully give you some good information and instruction as you build your very own affiliate marketing business. Today we are going to have a good look at how to brand your website. The reason for this is that whilst we have touched on the subject a number of times within recent posts, branding is one of the most critical, yet overlooked elements when it comes to achieving success in the online world.
The trouble is however, that within the marketing world there appears to be no clear cut description of what this actually means. So today we will focus on all things branding in an attempt to cut through the confusion and give you some good advice as to what you can consider as you build your website.
So as usual, grab a drink and a notebook, and let’s have a look at branding…
What is Branding?
So, as I have mentioned earlier, a brand is something that is at times a little difficult to actually put your finger on what it is. Is it the product? For example, Colgate is a brand of toothpaste. Or is it a logo – such as if I say the word Nike, do you think of the ‘swoosh’ logo? Or is it a behaviour? Virgin airlines around the world tend to focus on the lighter side of travel and flying with all of their signage and paraphernalia using informal and humorous wording.
For this article I even did some research on what a ‘brand is. Here are some of the descriptions that I found:
“… the name given to a product or service from a specific source”
“… a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”
‘…an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer”
Luckily for you, when you start to set up your website, your brand can effectively be whatever you want it to be… And in some cases, your brand will sort of present itself organically or after a little time. It may expose itself via a catch phrase, your writing style or even by the reactions you get on social media. Regardless of how it transforms however, let’s have a look at some of the things we can look at to give it a nudge in the right direction.
What do we need to consider?
Regardless of how your brand presents itself, it is something that must be protected and nurtured as your site develops and grows. In many cases, if something is done to upset the apple cart so to speak with a company, it is the brand that is damaged. In fact, some corporations will go to extreme lengths to protect their brand, even at times over the actual product that they sell or promote.
With that in mind, the following are some things that you need to consider as you start to create your brand – whether you have an idea or not of what it is…
Note: I have written the following based on the assumption that you have finalised, or at the least planned your niche and regardless of whether you have a website or not.
Do your research
One thing that I strongly believe when it comes to the world of affiliate marketing and online business building is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. If someone has done it before you, and it is working, then why not mirror it. As you start to think about what it is that your brand will be, have a look at what your competition is doing to see if they are:
- Focusing their ‘brand’ on – what they sell, a logo or slogan – visuals or words, or a behaviour – fun/party or socially serious.
- Using particular colours, pictures or fonts to create a brand like appearance – colours and fonts can be extremely strong brand triggers – so much so that many companies will not only trademark their logo, but its colours and fonts as well. I know of a fast food restaurant here in Australia that was forced to change their logo as the ‘image’ was too close to McDonalds.
- Writing in the particular manner – I have mentioned Virgin Airlines and their attitudes on their signage.
- Sharing or promoting on social media – what platforms are they using and what are they posting?
This information is crucial to you as you start to develop your own brand as it will show you not only what is successful, but also what it is that your market likes. Your choice now will be whether you want to mirror the brands within your niche or disrupt them. Sometimes coming at a niche from a whole new angle can really shake things up.
Branding starts with visuals… Colours, fonts and images. These must match your intended brand and audience or your traffic levels will not grow. For example, if you are developing a site that promotes fishing gear, you are going to want ‘beachy’ colours and fonts with lots of images of the beach, sun and fish. I know that if I looked at a site selling fishing rods that was all black and white then I would probably drop straight off. Let’s have a look at this in more detail:
There is actually a real science to the use of colours in marketing (which is what you are doing with your site – like it or not). Think of fast food – most shops have a lot of red – which psychologically promotes hunger and urgency – which is also why many call to action website buttons are red. Pastels are calming which is why shopping malls are light colours.
The colour you choose must be synonymous with your brand – if you do it right, your readers will be able to tell you the colour of your site without even remembering the name. Some examples – If your brand is about action and adventure, use reds and oranges, for a fishing site, I would want my brand to be about the gentle slowness of fishing so I would move towards the blues and greens of the ocean.
Fonts are also powerful in their appearance and the development of a brand. It probably goes without saying but if your niche is in politics or news, then I would probably not write my site in a cursive handwriting type font. As I said at the beginning of this section, visuals form the basis of any brand, so if your font doesn’t match your intentions or gives an impression that doesn’t match the writing, then you will turn readers away.
The other thing to keep in mind with fonts is consistency. Choose 1 font and stick to it. There is nothing worse that getting used to one font then having to readjust because you keep changing it. Just don’t.
I probably don’t need to explain this one too much but images can be an amazing brand builder. Have a think about perfume companies. All of their images are of fashion and luxury – you know – actresses on French streets, models on yachts… Why? Because that is their brand – luxury. You can see an advert for a perfume where they don’t even mention the product – only a logo at the end.
With the invention of social media sites such as Instagram, images can be used to tell people everything they need to know about you before they even see your site or buy a product. Think of this site. I use images of the beach in my header pages, YouTube thumbnails and anything else that I customise – all because it is synonymous with my brand.
I will tell you what is NOT synonymous with my brand… all of the big words I have used in this section… Might have to look into that… hahaha
Luckily for us, unless you are creating your site from scratch, most website development platforms contain inbuilt themes with pre-determined colours, fonts and header images that allow you to set your branding details automatically. If you are unsure of your brand, themes can be utilised as a very good way of identifying a setup that you think will fit based on your research to date.
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I know we have just discussed the ‘fuzziness’ of the term ‘brand’ however that said, logos are essentially branding 101 for any business. I bet I could show you the logos of the top 100 companies in the world and you would be able to get most of them without skipping a beat. In terms of brand awareness and recognition, you should have a logo for your site and include it in as many places as possible such as:
- On your website theme logo section (obviously).
- On your post header graphics.
- All social media pages as your main ID image.
- Google account ID images.
- Email headers.
- And anywhere else that you are putting anything to do with your site on public display.
Now, corporations spend millions of dollars hiring an army of consultants to come up with the perfect logo. Luckily for us and our new – yet to make any money – sites, we have some much more cost effective options. The best one here is to go onto Fiverr where you can get one created for as little as $5.
Alternatively, if you wish to do it yourself, get onto Canva.com. It is free and comes with some pretty cool templates to help you create your very own logo. Want to see how, see the video below:
Brand message or slogan
Without us getting into an argument about politics, the best example of a recent slogan that explains this process perfectly is “Make America Great Again”. That slogan built a brand that effectively won a presidential election. Every speech, every policy, every interview and every piece of rhetoric centred around that slogan. It meant different things to different people and obviously raised some animosity along the way, but why was it so successful? Simply because Donald Trump did not sway away from it at any time – hence it became his brand.
In many cases, your slogan or brand message will be something that almost just sort of happens. It might be a phrase you use in real life that you add to your writing or something that you have said that resonates with your readers. Regardless, a simple slogan can really enhance your brand recognition powers.
But be careful, they can also do you damage or pigeon hole you if you are not careful as well. There was an instance locally where I live where a plumber in the next town added a slogan to the side of his van that said “You call and I will come, anywhere, anytime.” Which was great until someone from the neighbouring town 45 minutes away called him. Let’s just say social media was not kind to this poor gentleman.
But all in all, a clever or natural phrase or slogan can be a goldmine when it comes to brand recognition and management.
This section definitely fits into the ‘intangible’ side of brand building but is again one that is critical where the written word is a key element of the business (such as online). We have discussed on other posts the need to write naturally and with your readers in mind. And when it comes to branding, we need to look at taking this a step further as how you write needs to coincide with the brand that you are working with.
In many cases, as long as you write naturally, then this will take care of itself. However, this is where the intangibles can set in. What do you think about when I mention that I wanted to write in a ‘blokey’ tone, or for females, teenagers, baby boomers, professionals, tradespeople, teachers and so on. I have quite an extensive background in writing training materials for all manner of subjects, government documentation, legislation, ministerial briefs, technical instructions and so on. And you know what, the biggest mistake you can make is to go away from your natural style – as that will be your brand.
Obviously you can change the tone – i.e. if your site is discussing mobile assistance aids for the elderly, you are probably going to keep it to the point and leave a lot of the humour out – or are you? Again, be true to your brand and your style will take care of itself.
Social media sharing
We know how powerful social media can be when it comes to brand recognition. And in reality, most social media platforms can be molded to fit any type of brand. However, when choosing a social media platform it is always a good idea to make sure that the one you choose will match, and allow you to enhance your brand. I always use the same example here, if your site is about serious political news, then pictures of bikini models on a boat in the Bahamas on Instagram is probably not going to resonate with your brand, or your audience.
Some tips for branding with social media:
- Use the right platforms.
- Always include your visuals – logos, colours, fonts etc.
- Be consistent in your message and content.
- Post regularly.
- Ask for interaction.
- Have fun with it.
The vibe of it
And finally, it’s the vibe. Those of you who have seen a well-known Australian film will be familiar with this concept, “it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe and aah no that’s it, it’s the vibe”. How we feel about something is probably the strongest influence on how we act. How many of you have visited a website and then clicked off because it just didn’t look or feel right – especially if you were about to purchase. Again, this will probably come naturally and is obviously heavily influenced by some of the points we have already discussed within this post however, it is something to be aware of.
I think the biggest thing here is that as we build a site, we become so familiar with it that we often can’t see the forest for the trees so to speak. My final recommendation then when it comes to building whatever brand it is that you envisaged for your website, is to ask someone else what they think. Ask them questions like:
- Who do you think this site is aimed at?
- Do you like the logo, colours, fonts etc.?
- Which social media site would you use?
- How does the site make you feel?
There are probably more questions you could ask but you get the idea. Ask anybody you can – they will all give you different responses and half the time not answer what you are looking for, but at the end of the day, what they see is what they see… Which is what a brand is all about.
Branding – easy hey! Don’t stress though, in most cases once you have chosen your initial settings, then it is something that will grow organically – just make sure you stay true to what it is that you are trying to achieve and the rest should take care of itself.
What are your experiences with branding? Is there anything I have missed? Please comment below and I will be more than happy to check anything out or add something as required.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own website?
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Until next time
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