Building your brand online can help you be one of the first people/businesses that comes to mind when someone is looking for your product or service. In the small town that I live in, there’s a woman who drives a truck around selling fresh produce. She’s known as the “fruit lady”. She is a walking/driving advertisement for her family owned business. Whenever conversation turns to where to buy the freshest fruits and vegetables, someone will mention her. She is a living example of someone who has done an excellent job of building their brand and creating top-of-mind awareness.
So, how do you build awareness of your brand online? I don’t know about you but there are definitely people online who I know, recognize and respect for being the go-to person in a particular niche. How did they do it? How do you do it? (I guarantee that several of you who read my blog and comment are some of the people who I immediately think of.)
#1 Make it Personal
I just took a quick look at my spam folder and about one out of every ten spam comments is from someone who has used keywords as their name (including “manufacturers of bed linen”, “mlm business software”, “fitness tips” and “how to talk dirty”). Seriously? People like to do business with people they like and trust. If you won’t even share your name with us, how am I supposed to get to know who you are? You are your brand. So, please let me get to know you. Keep it personal while keeping it professional.
#2 Be Your Brand
The user name that you choose (for Twitter and other social media sites) is a key part of your brand. Whether you choose to use your name, your business name or an acronym, it does send us a message. Finding a user name can be challenging. It should be easy to spell and memorable. Twitter only allows 15 characters, so, you may need to get a little creative. Go to KnowEm to see if the username you want to reserve is available on most of the common social networking sites.
While looking at the comments in my spam folder, I noticed that the person who called themselves “Logo design” had not even set up a Gravatar (a globally recognized avatar) confirming my suspicions that the comment was left by a spambot. A real graphic designer would either use their personal picture or a killer graphic to impress us. They certainly would not want to be associated with a generic icon (like the grey box with the white outline of a person that you sometimes see next to comments).
#3 Know Your Target Audience
Who are you writing your blog for? Are you using it to communicate with existing and potential customers or clients? Are you writing to build brand awareness and authority? Are you writing to engage with your peers in hopes of cultivating referrals and developing mutually beneficial business relationships? (I answer yes to all of these questions.)
Whatever your reasons are for blogging, it’s important to understand who you are writing for. Quality content is of upmost importance but if no one is interested in reading what you have to say, it will be a futile effort. Ask yourself, why do people read your blog? Ask your readers. What do they like or not like about your posts? By engaging in conversation in your comment section, you can find out whether or not you’re giving your readers what they want and expect from you.
#4 Promote Your Brand
One of the most important decisions that you can make when you’re building your online presence is choosing and registering your own domain name. Your domain name is part of your brand. Even if you’ve decided to blog using a free blogging site (such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com), you should consider using your own domain name to help build awareness of your own brand. Google and WordPress.com don’t need any help build awareness of their brand. (Personally, I strongly recommend self-hosting if you can possibly afford it but that’s a topic for another article.)
Your email address should also be part of your brand. Whenever I receive an email from a business person and I see that it has come from gmail, hotmail, Comcast, AOL or another big business, I silently sigh to myself and think “missed opportunity”. Why build awareness of another brand when you can be building awareness of your website? I certainly have other email accounts but whenever I’m acting on behalf of this blog, I use an email account associated with this domain name.
What are your thoughts and suggestions for building your brand online? As always, thanks for making my blog better by sharing your opinions and experiences in the comment section. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. We can all learn something from each other.