Elusive yet powerful, online branding strongly influences buying decisions.
It’s the je ne sais quoi that customers feel when they’re willing pay more to get essentially the same product or service. Some companies actively invest in it. Some don’t even think about it, but if you are interacting with customers online, you’re contributing to your online branding.
What fate awaits those who dive into online branding without a robust plan or strategy? Bankruptcy, life-long shame and ridicule—possibly.
Jokes aside, many companies neglect online branding—thinking they can use resources elsewhere—and then end up wasting time and money trying to rescue their damaged brand.
Here are five online branding mistakes to avoid:
1. Not monitoring your brand online
You might have an amazing vision for your brand, but what matters is what people say and think. The internet enables anybody, anywhere, to share their thoughts about your brand.
Blogs, social media conversations, news articles, YouTube reviews—these make up your online brand, and if you’re not monitoring them, you have no control over them.
Monitoring your brand online helps you find out what your brand image looks like at any given moment. That’s the first step—if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, it’s tough to improve anything.
2. Not leveraging and improving your online reviews
Although monitoring your brand online is crucial, to improve your branding you must address the most conspicuous component of your online reputation: reviews. Whether you like it or not, your customers love leaving online reviews, and potential customers love reading them.
Online reviews are no longer just on review sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor or G2Crowd. They’re available and visible on Google search and social media networks, including Facebook.
These reviews—be they favorable or negative—affect your online brand and reputation. They are often the first thing people see on Google; ignoring them is a huge mistake.
You can actively improve your online reviews in many ways, such as building your official profiles, asking for reviews from your customers, etc. Most are no-brainers—it’d be a real pity not to try.
3. Not using influencers
People judge people by associations, and the same goes for brands. Working with the right influencers can reinforce your brand identity and image and expand your brand reach.
When we started our video marketing campaign, we used B2B marketing influencers in our videos. These videos have generated a lot of views, shares and engagement.
Those articles now rank on the first page of Google for the search term “content marketing predictions 2017.”
This brand visibility and recognition wouldn’t have been possible if not for the influencer’s participation in the video.
With proper influencer outreach and by building long-term relationships with industry leaders, you’ll get powerful endorsements that will strengthen your branding.
4. Being inconsistent in your brand communications
Successful brands are immediately recognizable and distinctive. As Walter Landor said: “Products are built in the factory; brands are created in the mind.”
That’s why it’s crucial that your design team has clear brand guidelines and that your content or communications team has a crystal-clear understanding of your writing style and tone.
From the HEX codes of your logo to the spelling (e.g., recognizable or recognisable), down to the Oxford comma, you must set and maintain clear guidelines. When done well, customers should recognize your brand immediately by the colors, font or tone of your communications.
Attention to detail sets great brands apart.
The same applies to the rest of the company—the way your sales people treat and talk to your customers, the way your customer support team handles complaints.
Your brand story can go on about transparency, respect and trust, but if your CEO hides key information from shareholders, or if your customer support rep treats frustrated customers disrespectfully, no amount of money spent on marketing and advertising can salvage your brand.
Living up to your word and being consistent in all areas of your communication with your customers are essential to building a strong brand online.
5. Not knowing what your competitors are up to
You can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against others; the same goes for your brand.
That’s where competitive monitoring comes in handy. There are tons of things to look at—your competitors’ websites, social media profiles, paid ad campaigns, email marketing sends, PR coverage, etc. Each channel or area is an opportunity for you to learn and improve your own branding strategy.
Joei Chen is the content marketing manager at Mention, a media monitoring tool that helps brands listen, track and analyze what people are saying about them anywhere online. Get a free brand audit in two seconds on OnlineReputation.io. A version of this post first appeared on Mention’s blog.