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Category Archives: Digital Branding

  1. The Secret Sauce Behind Digital Branding

    • by Admin

    If you thought creating a successful digital brand was all about coming up with a snazzy new logo or designing a flashy website, you’d be off to a good start, but the idea of successful digital branding goes much deeper than that. In many ways, the game of branding hasn’t changed a bit since 1955 when a young whippersnapper of a burger franchise hoisted a set of golden arches into the air and invented the fast food industry. What has changed is the medium where that brand-building takes place, which sort of changes the game completely. Why not grab a cup of coffee or your favorite cold beverage and let’s learn about branding in the Digital Age?

    Digital is Different

    One of the first things you should internalize as an online marketer in search of an awesome brand is that it doesn’t matter a bit what you say. The important thing is what “they” say. Who are they? Why the millions and billions of internet denizens, a portion of whom are likely to make or break your business aspirations. Let’s stay with this a moment because it’s an important idea.

    Think about your own experiences as a consumer. Let’s use the ubiquitous McDonald’s for a quick example, even if you don’t like their food. Does the reason you decide whether or not to swing by on your lunch hour for a McRib lie in the glowing words crafted so eloquently for television commercials or the opinion already framed in your mind created by a lifetime of personal interaction and word-of-mouth? Probably the latter. It’ll be the same with your digital branding efforts.

    The bottom line is that it’s not your job to blather endlessly about how great your business is. That’s a monologue and, outside the Tonight Show, isn’t effective. What is effective is to facilitate the online discussion wherever it may be taking place, not as an annoying or looming presence, but as a participant in the conversation.

    Defining a Digital Brand

    First of all, when we’re talking about a digital brand – hopefully obviously – we’re referring to all the brand-building activities that occur online in conjunction with different digital platforms. This isn’t paying some shady guy ten bucks an hour to stand out on the corner with a sandwich board and wave at passers-by. This is a more esoteric endeavor, because you can’t physically lay hands on it.

    The potential audience who might be interested in your product or service has their attention scattered all over the internet, hopping amongst probably dozens of different platforms (blogs, social media, forums, websites) through the course of any given day. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to entice them into taking part in a conversation that builds and broadens your brand’s reach.

    How to define the branding itself? That’s easy. Branding is the process of creating a positive presence in the digital space, one that tells the story and establishes an identity in a way that connects with the target audience. It’s about using what is unique about your company and differentiates it from the competition. There are two primary ways to establish your digital identity.

    Content Marketing

    The first way to build a brand and create a unique identity in the digital space is through content marketing. Perhaps a quick definition is in order.

    Content Marketing: a type of marketing that includes the creation of various types of online material, including blog or social media posts, video, etc. The point is not to engage in specific brand promotion but rather to stimulate a conversation about its products or services.

    How should an online identity be established? Every process is different in the details, but the big picture would involve creating content related to your motivations and goals and how they eventually came to bear on the products or services you offer. For instance, to claim you make the best burger on earth is not only ineffective, but it’s boring. More interesting would be a tale of how you grew up hating square or flash frozen beef patties with every fiber of your being and were motivated to travel to Tibet and live in a high mountain monastery for seven years training the anger out of your system, then, at some point, received inspiration to return home and serve the freshest, roundest beef patties imaginable.

    Now that’s a story and one likely to inspire a healthy discussion about bad burgers, long-distance trips, and the meaning of life. And, oh, by the way, there’s a good chance the conversation will also involve how tasty the burgers are at the new joint you just opened. See what you did there? Without actively promoting your business, you started a conversation that would inevitably lead to sneaky business promotion.

    And Then There’s Social Media

    More often than not, digital brand-building in today’s world means engaging in at least a few social media platforms. Some of the current hot options are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. The great thing about social media – other than the fact that almost every human being in the galaxy uses it every day – is that it allows you to develop your brand’s voice. You get to decide whether you want to be serious, funny, sarcastic, silly, inscrutable.

    Your social media presence is important, because, as opposed to a longer form blog post on your website, you can dip in and out of your favorite platform with shorter status updates, respond to questions, or take part in a conversation. Make sure you understand your audience before going too crazy though. If you want to build your brand and ultimately make more sales, the key is to talk to the target audience in the manner they want to be spoken to. Sarcastic comments might play well to one segment but not another. If you’re unsure about how to start, try being a listener first. Do this by dropping in on a competitor’s social media feeds to get a sense for what works and what doesn’t.

    But don’t overlook the fact that uniqueness, done correctly, is an amazing way to build and develop a brand. If you’re still unsure about the first steps, it might make sense to consult a digital marketing agency. These days, almost every town has one. There’s a good chance the initial consultation won’t cost you anything, and it’s liable to blow your mind wide open. In a good way, of course.

    Final Thoughts

    To build a digital brand means you must create credibility in the consumer mind. To do that, you need a brand. Take that to mean digital branding is not an optional activity unless your goal is to languish in obscurity and eventually die a lingering entrepreneurial death. Make this a priority. Go to the places where your potential customers hang out online and tell them about that time you road-tripped to Tibet and ended up with a new vision for burgers. Your business depends on it. Now get out there and build that brand.

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  2. How Does SEO Impact Digital Branding?

    • by Varsha V.

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is probably one of the most commonly used terminologies when it comes to online marketing. While we know the benefits of SEO, we might not be using it effectively as a digital branding exercise. But before that, how many of us actually understand digital branding, and how SEO impacts that?

    Well, to better grasp this concept, let me begin with a basic introduction to SEO and digital branding.

    What is SEO?

    SEO is the process of optimizing a website or a web page through tools and best practices, in order to rank better organically in search results. There is a multitude of rewarding results to this process, including increased traffic, brand awareness, generating more leads and revenue, and so on.

    How Does SEO Work?

    There are various levels of optimization when it comes to SEO, but here’s the basis on which it works.

    Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use crawlers that index web pages. These crawlers use certain ranking signals to serve up the most relevant content for any given search or query. Some of the most important ranking signals include backlinks, keyword density, comprehensiveness, page speed, and mobile-friendliness, among other things.

    SEO is all about optimizing web pages and working on making them show up in the top results of any relevant search string.

    What Is Digital Branding?

    Many a time, digital branding can be easily confused with digital marketing. In reality, digital marketing refers to what you do to promote your brand or business online. On the other hand, digital branding deals with consumer perception and your brand’s/business’ image in the digital space. In other words, it’s your brand’s online personality.

    Why Is Digital Branding Important?

    In today’s day and age, digital engagement has shot up exponentially. In an infographic on Social Media Today, it is observed that teenagers spend up to 9 hours a day on social media. Brands and businesses are taking advantage of this, introducing themselves to a huge audience through targeted ads.

    This is where digital branding starts to make a difference. In an endless sea of marketing cliches, digital branding aims to convey a brand’s story in a unique way that resonates with its target audience. Consequently, this helps people form a positive notion about the brand, and that in turn nurtures engagement and loyalty towards it. In a nutshell, digital branding helps people feel good about a brand or a business before they even interact with it.

    Now that we’ve covered the basics of SEO and digital branding, let’s move on to the more important question.

    How Does SEO Impact Digital Branding?

    SEO plays a significant role in how your business shapes its personality online, and how you understand and approach customers. Let’s take a look at some of the key areas of digital branding that are impacted by SEO.

    • Social media SEO helps you analyze what’s trending in your industry, what people are saying about it, and how industry leaders are responding to it. You can use this data to spot trends and determine the needs of your target audience, which will help define your brand’s approach to digital branding. 
    • In the realm of search engine optimization, social proof is a significant contributing factor to a business’ digital brand. It mostly comprises of social signals such as likes, dislikes, shares, pins, views, followers, etc. The better the social signals, the more credible the social proof. Consequently, this affects the quality of your digital branding as well. 
    • Image SEO helps you convey your brand’s story better by making it visually engaging to an extent where it demands a response or an opinion. 
    • SEO helps your brand reach out to your target group better, leading to higher conversion rates and reduced marketing spends. 
    • It also helps your brand provide a better user experience across all digital platforms. This directly affects your brand’s image and also helps shape your digital branding. 
    • SEO also helps your brand’s digital branding by merely doing what it’s meant to, which is to enhance online visibility for your brand. This helps propagate your branding strategy better and maximize its impact. 
    • Local SEO aids discovery when it comes to localized searches, giving your brand a certain amount of leverage to form long-lasting customer relationships.

    So, there you have it! We hope this helped refine your view of SEO, and why you should use it as a starting point to shape your digital branding.

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  3. What is Native Advertising?

    • by Admin

    Do you know what native advertising is? Could you identify it? This article, for example, is not a native ad. Or is it? In the new world of content – where everyone gets to create it – native ads can be placed anywhere and within anything. From articles to videos and images, any form of content can be a type of native advertising. They can also be part of your Facebook feed, your favorite Pinterest board, and even the funny YouTube videos you watch every week. But what is native advertising anyway?

    Here is the textbook definition:

    na·tive ad·ver·tis·ing
    n. Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

    Media where the ad follows natural form and function of where it is placed. So it is basically an ad…that doesn’t look like an ad? Sort of. Native advertising matches form and function, meaning it matches the visual design of the experience they live within, in both look and feel, with consistent behavior and the native user experience, functioning just like natural content. They integrate content into the organic experience of a platform. In simpler words, native ads act as part of the environment they are placed on – which can be a website, video, image, or any other platform – and even though they are sponsored content from a certain brand, they are not a clear banner ad trying to sell you something or get you to engage.

    Native advertising feels like it was created for the digital age, but it actually dates from way back. Advertorials – which is when an advertisement meets an editorial – first appeared in the late 19th century, when brands started running ads with longform copy in newspapers and magazines, telling their brand’s story as an editorial. Native ads then evolved to branded radio, with sponsored radio programs, to branded TV through commercials, soap operas and pop culture, all the way to infomercials and search ads. In the 21st century, native ads evolved to sponsored content in social media, articles, and online videos. And they can come in all shapes and types of platforms. From a New York Times article about Women Inmates, advertising the popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, to a BuzzFeed video about cats, featuring the brand Purina. They can have a more serious tone, or simply feel like a funny joke.

    And they seem to be working. According to research from IPG media lab, consumers look at native ads 52% more frequently than regular banner ads and native advertisements registered an 18% higher lift for purchase intent responses than traditional ads. The click though rates are also much higher with 49x more clicks for native ads, according to MDG Advertising.
    So why go Native? Some people tend to avoid display ads and native ads turn to a viable form of advertisement for many publishers who value user experience. And user experience matters…a lot. Brand loyalty also changes with 32% of users valuing native ads over other forms of advertisements. Also, consider that 70% of Internet users want to learn about products through content over ads. Nearly every social network has sponsored ads and many publishers offer some type of native advertising on their sites. Any brand can do content-based native ads, and the product does not have to be front and center. Native advertising can help in building brand reputation and is a very effective way to connect to your audience without being forceful.

    The important thing to remember about native advertising is that it is not automated and it doesn’t come in ad boxes. Instead, native ads deliver high quality content integrated to a platform. They do not interrupt flow and are equal to user interaction, which is incredibly valuable to consumers. To learn more about native advertising and how it can work for your brand, contact us at ST8.

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  4. The Story Behind 5 Icons Everyone Knows

    • by Admin

    Press play.

    We see a lot of icons every day and some arise in our day-to-day in such a natural way, we don’t even think of it. We all know the tumbled triangle that comes to mind whenever we think of the word ‘play’; same for the share button frequently seen in our social media timelines.
    But have you ever thought of who designed them? Is there a reason behind their format? This week we will be taking an in-depth look into these so-known symbols and the intriguing stories behind them.

    Play

    icon-play-128
    This icon is everywhere and across various media platforms. But we are left with a question: Where did it come from?!
    There is no exact idea of when this icon was originated. What we can say is that it was brought out from the 60s, the era of audiovisual and reel. The original triangle brought up the idea of time as an arrow, with its direction indicating whether time was going forward or backwards. The great success of this icon was due mainly to the globalization of the electronic equipment industry.
    Through its success, others icons have been generated from the same foundation: the triangle.

    USB

    usb-xxl
    We all have something with this icon. From the useful, ubiquitous, and cheap, the symbol is present in many devices and cables. From chargers to external drives, amongst many others, simplifying the use of many cables.
    The idea behind this symbol was Neptune Trident Dreizack. The trident symbolizes power, in the sense of being a single connector for multiple devices. The different shapes at the ends symbolize the drive.
    As this symbol is rather abstract, the three USB letters are often used instead, and the icon is to be left this way until it becomes standard on a global scale.

    Bluetooth

    bluetooth
    Of all the symbols on this list, Bluetooth definitely has the best story.
    In the tenth century, Danish King Harald Blåtand loved the blue fruit (blueberries) so much, his teeth were always stained with blue. The English translation of his last name is – you guessed it – Bluetooth.
    Bluetooth creates a secure way of exchanging data amongst several wireless devices, and its predominantly Scandinavian creators recalled the legend of the viking king, Blåtand.
    The king had an impressive ability to bring people together in negotiations without violence. The symbol represents the unified mountains of Scandinavia, as his way with words went so far as uniting Norway and Denmark as a single territory.

    On / Off

    button-on-off_318-30091
    One of the most universal symbols in existence, you will find this one across various devices. First originated in the binary system and used by engineers in World War II, the 1 means on, and the means 0 off.
    In 1973, the International Electrotechnical Commission came to the conclusion that a circle interrupted by a small bar in the center represents the state of “standby” for electronics (going back to the binary system). However, the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) found this to be a very vague definition and decided that the symbol should simply represent “on/off”.

    


    Share

    Very-Basic-Share-icon
    The icon, looking something like a diagram, was developed by Alex King in December of 2006 and bought by ShareThis in 2007. It was originally made for the generic action to share a page, whether via social bookmarking or simply via email.
    However, this icon is not uniform for all websites and social media, as you can see on several platforms. The icon is changing and left is the question of whether this one is to lead in the future.

    Some symbols are universal, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking after your own. So why don’t you give us a call? Here at ST8, our design team is ready to take over and create the best icons and logos to fit your brand.

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  5. The ABC’s of Landing Pages That Work

    • by Admin

    When you click on a landing page, what’s the first thing that pops in your head? Are you annoyed, amused, perhaps intrigued? Talking about landing pages, the main thing to be aware of is impression. How do your visitors see you? Are they engaged and interested or will they move on to the next page within seconds? There are few things that create a better first impression than a well designed landing page, and the key is to understand your visitors and what leads them to take action.

    But, what is a landing page?

    A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result. One way of understanding the process is to think a soccer match during penalties. When the whistle marks the beginning of a penalty, the goal is to get the ball to, well, hit the goal! Similarly, landing pages work with copy and design and their goal is to get visitors to take an action.
    Landing page traffic can come from various sources, from a pay per click or marketing campaign, banner ads and sponsorship graphics to email links and blog posts. The best landing pages are simple, well-designed and speak to the right audience.
    And how is my landing page different than my website?
    From landing pages to websites there is one major difference: your visitors. There are two different types of visitors, coming from two different backgrounds: the ones landing on your page and the ones who just end up there.
    The first type probably knows you. They likely typed in your name or web address and probably were referred by someone, read one of your articles or an email they signed up for. You won’t need to try hard to sell them anything, but you will need to make sure their experience is the best possible and they have easy access to all navigation and resources they will need to continue to get and know you better.
    The second type doesn’t know you. They found something floating around the web and somehow got linked to your page. They may be skeptical too. The goal here is to educate, convince (nicely) and most of all, make them feel comfortable. You want them to be curious about your business and the solution you could provide them. You want this interaction to be simple, direct and effective.
    Making sure to track both your landing page and website performance is the best way of understanding your visitor’s actions to set up a strategy and reach your conversion goals.
    There are a lot of parts and terms to landing pages and working with the basic ABC’s, we found a great infographic where you can get all the information you need to design pages that work:

    copyblogger-infographic-abcs-of-landing-pages

    Need help with your landing page and website design? Contact us at ST8. Let’s work together and create the best strategy to impress your visitors.

    Infographic and featured image via Copyblogger.

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  6. Online marketers – don’t forget you’re building a brand.

    • by Admin

    Online marketers – don’t forget you’re building a brand.

    It’s easy for online marketers to get caught up in all the technical stuff like click-throughs and conversion rates. I mean, it’s this type of data that makes online marketing so awesome, right? Right. However, it’s important for us to step outside our digital box and see the brand from someone else’s point of view. Those “clicks” are real people who don’t give a flying fudge what your conversion rate is or how much money you just paid Google for their visit…they’re just surfing the web. They will develop a perception of your brand based on this experience. It’s inevitable. That “click” is now a walking, talking, tweeting, posting advertisement that you once had a chance to influence. Did you create a positive brand experience for them? Don’t forget, between the analytics and optimization, you’re building a brand.

    Your brand has a story to tell. A common expression, but a simple truth nonetheless. What is a brand without a story? Boring, thats what. To our benefit, the internet is one of the most versatile story-telling machines out there! There are endless ways to share your story online. One of the most obvious and necessary places to share your story is on your website. This is your home turf, so whether you think your website  represents your brand accurately or not, it does. Your visitors make immediate assumptions of your brand based on your website’s design, usability, loading speed, color palette, and so many other subconscious indicators (including your SERP – #1 is perceived as the industry leader). Investing in smart website design is an important aspect of telling your brand’s story and it should not be overlooked. Thankfully, we have analytics that help us improve this user experience and lead to more effective story telling.

    Thanks to the rise of social networking sites, branding has taken on a whole new meaning over the last 10ish years. Networks like Facebook allow your brand to live your story in real time. Genuine brands truly have a chance to shine here. While engagement metrics help us know just how bright we’re shining, the number of “shares” cannot truly measure impression #268’s delight with your Facebook page and how many buddies he told at the bar.

    If you do it right, your brand’s story plays a major role in your online marketing strategy. When everything works together and flows in the same direction, genuine brand experiences are born and a healthy web presence follows.

    “Quit counting fans, followers, and blog subscribers like bottle caps. Think, instead, about what you’re hoping to achieve with and through the community that actually cares about what you’re doing.” Amber Naslund, Author

    “Let your originality – your specialness, your brand personality -come through in your online content.” -Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman, Author, Content Rules

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  7. “How to Rank” SEO Master Blueprint – Instruction Manual for Beginners from SEOmoz

    • by Admin

    If you are new to SEO and are still learning the ins and outs of “How to Rank”, this is definitely going to help. SEOmoz blog post titled “How to Rank: 25 Step SEO Master Blueprint” provides an incredibly detailed and easy to understand framework for how to get your SEO strategy off the ground. Author Cyrus Shepard gives a few disclaimers before the journey begins:

    1. There are 100’s of ways to rank a web page, from tweeting a link to getting New York Times articles written about you. This is only one process.

    2. The blueprint is an SEO framework – it’s not meant to detail every step, but instead provides you with the basic outline of ranking a web page from beginning to end, so you can build your own campaign on top of it.

    3. Many experienced SEOs undoubtedly have superior processes. Listen to them every chance you get.

    Now, I won’t repeat the entire post word for word here, but here is a snapshot of the table of contents… There is some seriously good stuff in this post and I encourage you to make your way over to the SEOmoz blog and check it out!

    Blueprint-TOC

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  8. Embracing the Growth of the Omni-channel Consumer

    • by Admin

    Here at ST8 it is not only our responsibility to understand your brand, but also to recognize the needs, desires and habits of your brand’s target market. This requires a vast amount of research into the target mindset and most importantly what influences their purchase decision. Recently, there has been a vast amount of research conducted on the consumer once they have entered purchase mode and some interesting patterns have begun to arise.

    In this digital age, the pursuit of a product or service has changed drastically. No longer are retailers strictly relying on storefront displays and striking print ads to garner a customer’s attention. With the access of technology at their fingertips, consumers are relying on their own insights, as well as the insights of other consumers, to reach a purchase decision. Online resources provide a consumer with detailed imagery and product description, user reviews, and often even videos. These features are all designed to lead the consumer towards a more educated purchase decision. By creating this relationship with the buyer, they are more likely to feel confident with their purchase and less likely to experience post-purchase buyers remorse. Because of this, the need for in-store-handling of a product is no longer the most important part of the shopping experience. The fear of online shopping is dissipating and consumers are now relying heavily on search engine “point-and-click” ease of access more than any other resource when making a purchase.

    Successful businesses and retailers are catching on to this trend and faceting it to achieve sales and success. By incorporating an Omni-channel approach to retailing, businesses are ensuring that the knowledge their consumer craves prior to making a purchase decision is easily accessible and seamlessly consistent. They are replacing the experience of stepping into a store by providing their consumer with information and an online experience that can mimic, and even exceed, the former.

    This article by Nathan Saffran delves further into the insights of consumer purchase decision-making.

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  9. Coca-Cola Content 2020 – A Whiteboard Masterpiece

    • by Admin

    Coca-Cola explains how they will take advantage of opportunities in the new media landscape where content is king. These 2 videos detail how the company will move forward from creative excellence to content excellence. This content will emphasize a commitment to making the world a better place, at the same time driving business objectives for the company.

    Enjoy the compelling story Coke’s Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, tells as it is complimented by incredible whiteboard artwork. Overall, this makes for a very worthwhile 17 minutes…

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Coca-Cola explains how they will take advantage of opportunities in the new media landscape where content is king. These 2 videos detail how the company will move forward from creative excellence to content excellence. This content will emphasize a commitment to making the world a better place, at the same time driving business objectives for …

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