How to Build a Brand Online

Creating a Brand in 11 Simple Steps

how to build a brand online featured imageAre you wondering how to build a brand? It’s a smart question – if you’re going to stand out in today’s noisy market, you’ll need a clear message. A bad brand can cripple a business, while a good brand can see sales skyrocket.

Our guide will take you through the stages of creating your own brand identity, and set you up to stand out for all the right reasons.

Every brand, individual, and business is different, so your journey might be different from your neighbor’s – but the 11 stages below should still hold true, whether you’re an Instagram influencer or an old-school operation.

1

Take Stock of What You’ve Got

Before jumping feet first into building your brand, take a moment to look around at what you have already. Are you starting completely from scratch? Do you have a business that you want to expand, but no online presence? Perhaps you already have a brand that you want to revamp?

Now’s the time to sit down and hammer out the key values, goals, and principles you want your brand to reflect. What’s at the core of your business? How do you want your customers to see, think, and interact with you?

google brand mission
This is Google’s mission, which lies at the heart of its business. Once you’ve decided on your core values, you need to reflect them across every aspect of your brand.

If you don’t have a business yet, that’s okay! It can actually be much better to start with your brand, and use that as a strong foundation to build your business upon. It means your brand is at the core of your business, rather than being lumped in as an after-thought.

If you already have a business or brand, you can make use of anonymous surveys to learn what your audience loves, and work out what to leave behind as you move forward.

2

Do the Research

Once you’ve pinned down exactly where you’re coming from and where you want to go, it’s time to figure out your route. Luckily, there are others who have already done the journey, who you can learn some valuable lessons from.

That’s right – we’re talking about good old-fashioned spying (also known as competitor research), and we highly recommend it. These are brands that have made it – they’ve been where you are, and got it right. And now they can (albeit unwittingly) help you get it right, too.

Don’t just head straight for the biggest brands you can think of – there’s no point channeling Coca-Cola if you’re running an independent beauty store. Keep it niche, and focus on brands you admire that are successful in your industry, or embody similar values to your own.

Alongside this thrilling undercover snooping, you also need to understand one of the most important parts of your brand – your target audience.

You can’t please everybody – it’s a fact of life. This means you need to narrow down your audience – who are you trying to reach? How will you engage them? Why would they choose your brand over your competitors’?

It’s all very well saying this, but how do you research your future audience? Here are some ways to get started:

  • Talk to people – ask them about their buying habits: which brands are their favorites? Why? What’s missing for them in this category?
  • Put yourself in their shoes – if you’re running an online store, get shopping. If you’re a service-based business, request quotes. If you’re creating a personal brand, follow blogs or relevant Instagram accounts. What can you offer users that these brands can’t?
  • Get nosy – head to your competitors’ sites and do some digging. Check out any reviews or comments sections, and head to their social media accounts, too. What are their customers happy with or complaining about?
3

Invest in Your Brand

The main purpose of this step is to point out that you will probably need to spend some money to get your new brand off the ground. Yes, there are probably ways of creating a brand that are free – but the truth is, if you want a professional brand, be prepared to invest in it.

There are some basic things it’s always worth paying for, including:

  • Your logo – nothing says shady like a weird, grainy, or downright ugly logo. It’s worth getting someone to design it properly! It doesn’t have to cost you a bomb either, if you use a site like Fiverr to design your logo.
  • Your website – whether you pay a developer or build your own using a website builder, your website is worth investing in.
  • Professional tools – upgrading to premium online tools can save you tons of time and stress down the line.

Remember, your brand is your business’s personality – it’s how people think about and interact with your business. Having a shoddy logo or website is like turning up to a business meeting in socks and sandals.

But my brand is going to be chill and cool! That’s fine – your brand doesn’t have to portray a suit and tie kind of vibe, but it should ooze trustworthiness. And that’s where putting some money in really helps – chill doesn’t have to mean cheap, after all.

imperfect produce brand instagram
Imperfect Produce is a company that delivers ‘wonky’ fruit and veg to cut food waste – you can see from its Instagram posts that it’s fun, but professional.

Further Information

  • Investing in your brand doesn’t have to be expensive! Read our review of the Best Cheap Website Builders to find out how low your costs could be.

4

Design Your Business

This is the really fun part, and also a crucial step for creating your brand. It’s time to decide on your fonts, colors, and logo!

Our top tip here is to keep it simple. It’s easy to get carried away with the whole spectrum of colors and hundreds of fonts at your fingertips.

Colors

The trick with choosing your colors is not to be bland, but also not to throw every shade of the rainbow in there. Try to choose a primary color, and a complimentary secondary color.

For example, Coca-Cola uses red as its primary color, with white as its secondary color. McDonald’s is famous for it golden arches, alongside its red and white signs.

coca cola logo brand example
The world’s most famous brands, such as Coca-Cola, use their color schemes and logos as a central part of their business, marketing, and products.

When you’re picking your color scheme, it’s worth taking a dip into the weird and wonderful world of color psychology. Certain colors cause certain reactions in us – for example, blue is calming and evokes a sense of trust, while red is powerful and energetic, but can also make people feel agitated.

Fonts

Fonts can also make or break your brand. You don’t have to stick with a single font for everything, but don’t go too overboard. Pick one for headings and one for body copy, and make sure they don’t clash. And whatever you do, don’t pick Comic Sans – you have been warned.

Logos

A quick note on choosing your logo design – it doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated! When you think of the most famous logos, they tend to be very simple and easy to remember.

If you’re including both a symbol and your business name in your logo, it’s worth also having one designed that just features the symbol, as this can be useful on social media or to cement your brand.

wbe brand full logo
Here’s our full logo, with the WBE symbol alongside the full name Website Builder Expert.
wbe logo symbol social media
Here we only use the symbol part of our logo, as it looks much cleaner on social media.

Further Information

5

Find Your Voice

The final step before actually launching your brand is to find your voice. This sets the tone for your brand, and will lie at the very heart of everything your brand produces – from on-site copy to emails, adverts and social media campaigns.

Your tone, voice, and values need to be consistent and transparent across your whole brand. It’s no use having a friendly, informal voice on your social media, but then a dry, serious voice on your website.

A great example of a brand with a strong tone of voice is Innocent, the smoothie company. Its consistency is impressive – everything from the lack of capital letters to the simple, informal language. The tone of its blogs, emails, and labels all work together to create a clear brand image.

innocent brand tone of voice example
Innocent is a great example of how important having a consistent tone of voice can be for a brand’s image.

Playful, friendly, sustainable. These are just a few things Innocent wants you to associate with its brand, and it succeeds through its consistent use of voice. What are the three words you want to reflect your brand?

Top tip! If you’ll have a team of people writing for your brand, put together a style guide to help keep the tone of voice consistent across all your platforms. This can give guidance on tone – for example, “confident and friendly” – as well as grammatical things, such as how to write numbers or where to capitalize.
6

Get Online

Now you’ve laid the groundwork of building your brand, it’s time to build (or improve) your online presence – and what better way to start than by creating your own website?

97% of consumers go online to find and research local businesses – will you be there waiting for them, with open arms and a beautiful website? Yes, yes you will. There are two main ways you can build your website:

  • Hire a web designer: If you have a generous budget and aren’t in a hurry, then hiring a web designer to build your website for you could be the right choice. You’ll need to create a design brief, and work alongside your designer to make sure you end up with a site you can easily manage, and which matches your brand vision.
  • Use a website builder to build your site yourself: You can easily build a professional looking site, without needing any tech skills, if you decide to use a website builder. This is a quick, budget-friendly way of creating a site, but that doesn’t mean you sacrifice quality – just take a look at the example site below!
wix brand website example tea story
The Tea Story used the website builder Wix to create its website – it’s clean and professional, and includes a blog and online store.

One thing to make sure of when setting up your website is that it’s mobile optimized – this is absolutely essential, as around 57% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Because of this, Google ranks mobile-optimized sites higher up than sites which aren’t mobile friendly.

Another important feature is social media integration. We’ll get to the fun side of social media soon, but for now, make sure your website can integrate with your various social media accounts. This will make it easy for your visitors to follow, connect, and interact with you later on!

Whichever method you choose, your website is the perfect chance to put your carefully chosen brand colors, fonts, and logos into practice. Make sure all the copy is in line with your lovingly crafted tone of voice, and that your site itself also reflects your brand.

Now is also a good time to set up accounts for your social media – but first, you need some content to share…

Further Information

7

Create Your Content

Now you have your beautiful website, you need some content!

Whether this is content to fill up your website, shiny new blog posts, white papers, videos, or interviews, it’s killer content that will draw your visitors in (and have Google eating out of your hand!)

Remember to keep all your content in-line with your tone of voice. That includes any videos you create, or graphics you design – don’t let them clash with the tone of your content. Do have fun showing the world what your brand is all about.

Top Tip! If you’re starting a blog, it’s a good idea to write a few different posts in advance – you’ll probably find yourself pretty busy when your brand takes off, and you don’t want to risk running out of new things to publish.

Further Information

  • If you’ll be using lots of videos on your site, read our guide on How to Use Video Backgrounds for some extra inspiration.
  • Starting a blog? Choosing the right platform to build your site on can make all the difference – check out the resources below for more information:

8

Embrace Social Media

Embracing social media is the next step in building your brand. You don’t want to give it the cold shoulder, but you should also avoid squeezing the life out of it – instead, aim for the middle-ground with a firm but loving hug.

Our top tip here would be don’t expect too much from yourself.

First, don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick a couple of social channels that will appeal to your target audience, and which are manageable for you. For example, you might choose Twitter and Instagram if you’re aiming for a younger demographic, or even Snapchat if your brand is feeling fun and adventurous.

Secondly, try to post regularly, but don’t exhaust yourself – or your resources. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to post something every three hours, or even every single day.

death wish coffee brand twitter
Death Wish Coffee started out as a small business that has grown and gained 96.4K followers on Twitter since 2011 – its informal tweets match its brand identity, and engage its audience.

Keeping it relevant is key – you can have fun, as long as it relates back to your brand. Now is the time to integrate your social media with your website – share new content on your social channels, and put share, like, and follow buttons on your website.

Another hot tip is not to be too salesy on your social media accounts. Social media is where people go to relax, distract themselves during their commute, and connect with others – they don’t want sales shoved at them from every angle.

Interact with your followers, post engaging content, make use of relevant trends, and keep it fairly regular, and you should see positive results.

Further Information

9

Promote Your Brand

Isn’t this the same as step eight? Well, yes, but also, not quite. Social media is definitely one of the main methods of promoting your brand – it got its own section, after all! But it’s not the only way.

The power of marketing covers an endless range of tactics, tips and tricks to get your business seen by as many people as possible. But you can’t just run through the streets flinging flyers into the air – as we learned earlier, you need to engage your target audience with your marketing.

Here are just some of the main ways you can promote your brand:

  • Email marketing: It’s a big one – 92% of adults in the US use email, which is a huge market to make the most of. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace come with email campaign features built-in, which is a great way of ensuring your campaigns stay on-brand in terms of design.
  • Blogging: Blogging can do wonders for your brand. Not only does it give you something to regularly shout about on social media and in emails, it also shows people (and Google) that you really know what you’re talking about. Plus, it appeals to a wide range of demographics!
  • Events: Are you a local business? See if you can sponsor a local event to grow a positive awareness of your brand, or even host an event yourself to connect with your audience on a community level.
  • Endorsements and influencers: We all love hearing about what our favorite celebrities love. This might be out of reach for modest startups, but endorsements of any kind can have a big positive impact for people’s image of your brand. You can also try approaching influencers (if you feel your target audience would connect with them).
10

Don’t Neglect Your SEO

Uh, what? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and this is what helps your website rank highly in Google’s search results. Without it, your beautifully thought out, crafted, and promoted brand will sit gathering virtual dust on page 10.

If you’ve used a quality website builder to create your website, you’re in luck – your site will already be optimized for the techy stuff, and the rest will be easy to get the hang of – even for a beginner!

If you’re using WordPress, we definitely recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin, as it’ll help you manage your SEO and make your life much easier.

Either way, your SEO won’t magically take care of itself – here are a few basic things you can do to help climb up those Google rankings…

Get SSL Security

This is major – you need SSL security for your website, no matter what. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and encrypts data passing through your site – including card details and secure logins.

If you don’t have SSL security, Google will warn your visitors, and ask them if they want to continue – you can bet most people will say a big ‘no thanks’ and go elsewhere.

Fortunately, most website builders include SSL for free, or you can get a one yourself from Let’s Encrypt at no extra cost.

brand security lets encrypt
You can get your SSL certificate for free form Let’s Encrypt, which was created to help make the internet a more secure place for everyone

Compress your images

Images, videos, and other media can seriously impact how fast your site loads. And it’s not just impatient visitors who don’t like slow loading sites – Google hates them too.

However, you can avoid dreaded slow site speeds by compressing your files first – use a free tool like Kraken.io to compress your images before uploading them.

image optimizer kraken
Kraken.io is just one of the many free and easy platforms online which you can use to optimize your images.

Use headings

Google loves structure, and so do your readers! Just like in a Google Doc, you can use different headings – H1 for your main title, H2 for your main headings, and H3 and H4 for little subheadings (like the one above!)

The list of SEO factors goes on and on (there are guides out there with over 200), so we’ll stop there – but you get the idea. Don’t neglect your SEO, or Google will neglect your website!

Further Information

11

Don’t Stop Now!

This is only the beginning of your brand. Just because you’ve completed all our steps, doesn’t mean your brand is now totally finished. The final step is to keep going – you should constantly be evolving, growing, and improving your brand.

Tools like Google Analytics are great for tracking your website’s metrics, such as how long people are spending on your site, where they’re visiting from, and which pages are most popular.

But only your audience can tell you how successful your brand is – remember, your brand is really how people think about your business. You can control your side of that, but it’s important to make sure it’s being received in the way you hoped!

Once you’ve launched your brand, gather feedback to see how people are responding. Don’t sit back and relax – think about what you can make better, what’s working well, and how you can spread that success across every aspect of your brand.

How to Build a Brand: Final Thoughts

This article has taken you through the stages of building your brand. Whether you’re building a business, creating a personal brand, or revamping your existing brand, these steps will set you on the way to brand greatness.

Here’s a quick recap of our 11 simple steps on how to build a brand:

  1. Take stock of what you’ve got
  2. Do the research
  3. Invest in Your Brand
  4. Design your business
  5. Find your voice
  6. Get online
  7. Create your content
  8. Embrace social media
  9. Promote your brand
  10. Don’t neglect your SEO
  11. Don’t stop now!

You’ll no doubt find some extra steps creep in when you’re actually doing this for yourself, because every brand is different – that’s the joy of it. But these 11 steps will see you through creating your own brand identity, and hopefully give you the inspiration to get started today!

Have you successfully built a brand? Got some top tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

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About Lucy Carney

Lucy Carney

You’re not alone! Building a website can be scary, especially if you’re like me with no previous coding experience. With the help of our experts I’m here as a friendly voice to help guide you into the exciting world of website building. If I can do it, so can you!

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