How a strong brand can impact revenue online

Effective branding makes your business recognisable but also profitable. Patrick Llewellyn breaks down how a strong brand can make you a customer magnet.

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It’s become a bit of a cliché to say we’re online more than ever before, but it’s true. For new businesses and entrepreneurs, working out how to show up online and really nail your branding across digital channels can be daunting.

Everyone understands that getting their branding right is important, but when faced with all of the competing priorities of running a business, this particular job can often be pushed to the side to be dealt with later. But a brand is more than just skin deep; it has the power to have real, tangible impacts on business results and customer trust, so putting it off won’t serve you well in the long run.

Ultimately, in our increasingly oversaturated world, where cultural trends and tastes typically emerge on social media, effective online branding might just be the most important thing a small business can do to succeed.

How does branding add value?

For the last fifteen years, I’ve seen first-hand how effective branding fuels the success of startups and small businesses around the world: at 99designs by Vista we’ve helped more than 600,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses build their brands online. I’ve seen what lands, and what doesn’t, but the data speaks for itself. In a survey carried out by 99designs, 78% of small business owners said that visual branding had significantly contributed to their revenue growth, with more than 80% reporting it helps them attract new customers and also build trust with their target audiences.

Why is branding for online channels so crucial?

It’s one thing to stand out on a busy high street thanks to strong signage and striking window displays, but when it comes to your brand’s presence online, it’s a whole different ball game.

According to Domo’s recent ‘Data That Never Sleeps’ report, every minute of every day sees 66,000 images shared on Instagram, 1.7m pieces of content posted to Facebook, and 5.9 million searches on Google. That’s the noise and scale that you’re trying to stand out against. Whilst the quality of your product or service might be what keeps customers coming back, getting their attention in a digital landscape flooded with a constant stream of content and data is the real challenge.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. So the question is, as a small business or startup, how do you go about creating a brand that stands out?

Here are three things to consider when you’re looking at how your brand shows up online:

1. Blink and you’ll miss it

It takes just 0.05 seconds – less time than the blink of an eye – for people to form an opinion about your website. That’s why your visual brand needs to be instantly recognisable and unforgettable, especially in a digital context.

When it comes to your website design more broadly, think about how you can capture and keep customers’ attention in a way that is engaging but doesn’t detract from what you’re trying to communicate and achieve. While it’s not typically a good idea to get too creative with areas of your site that deal with transactions or the checkout experience for example, consider how you could leverage things like video content or motion graphics to create a sense of energy and excitement within the design of your homepage or landing pages where customers first interact with your site.

Eye-catching design is key, but make sure it also captures and quickly communicates something authentic about your overall brand personality. First impressions count, but even when scrolling, today’s consumers want to connect and understand what a brand stands for in a meaningful way.

2. Consistency is King

The fastest way to build trust online? Consistency.

Your brand exists in a decentralised online space. Much like the way single-subscription cable TV in the US gave way to multiple streaming platforms, our online experience has become scattered across various social media platforms, each with their own syntax and norms. Knowing that your audience is most likely facing content overload and digital clutter, it can be tempting to lean into simplicity as the solution. But the antidote to an issue is not always the opposite, and less isn’t always more when it comes to meeting consumer expectations in different digital environments.

Irrespective of the differences between channels, your core visual brand and messaging needs to be consistent across all platforms to ensure customers recognise it, no matter where they find it. 46% of consumers will pay more to buy something from a brand they trust, so the value of earning this trust shouldn’t be underestimated.

If you have a strong brand, with recognisable visual elements (e.g. logo, colour, fonts) and an established tone, it’s worth investing the time and effort in adapting your branded content for different online channels and meeting audiences where they’re at – whether that be email, TikTok or LinkedIn.

3. Your brand story is everything

While consistent visual branding across online spaces is critical, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. A trustworthy (and subsequently successful) brand also follows through on its promises. But it’s not just about telling customers they can depend on you. You need to show them through a cohesive brand experience and story.

If there’s one universal truth, it’s that humans respond positively to storytelling. And as an entrepreneur, you are likely to be very close to your customers, and the stories that make your brand unique. Today, brands have so many online spaces to share and showcase the impact they are making in the world, so this is a huge opportunity for you. In the same way you can communicate your brand personality in different ways on your website through design and copy (think of everything from homepage copy to your Error 404 pages), social channels give you new arenas to experiment with and share compelling brand stories in a variety of formats.

Knowing what you stand for, what your values are, and being crystal clear on your brand promise will help you create the kind of online content that resonates at every customer touchpoint – whether that be on socials, on site, or in ads.

Final thoughts

Presenting a unified brand online is one of the most effective ways to build trust with customers, and ultimately drive growth. Ensuring customers can pinpoint and recognise your brand amongst today’s digital clutter is critical, but so too is creating an online presence that amplifies and enhances the promises and values that are at the core of what makes your business and brand unique.

Patrick Llewellyn, CEO of 99designs by Vista

Patrick Llewellyn is CEO of 99designs by Vista, the global creative platform that makes it easy for small businesses to work with professional freelance designers around the world. 99designs has paid out more than US$400m to its creative community to date, working across brand and logo design, packaging, web design and more.

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