How Do I Decide What Online Image I Want For My Brand?

By on March 31, 2011

When you eventually decide to make the move online, you’ll have a lot of decisions that you’ll have to work through – some that could determine whether your business is successful or not.

The most important of all of these decisions is deciding what your ‘online image or brand’ is going to be. Here are a few tips to get you started on that crucial decision.

1. Be Industry Appropriate and Relevant

At some point every business that makes the leap online is going to have to decide whether to keep up with the Joneses, or become super original in their field.

If you choose to be a stereotypical, traditional version of your industry, there’s nothing wrong with that – but then you literally have to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ If your brand is too generic, it’ll be forgettable, so it’ll have to be an amazingly good example of a traditional business in your field.

Being original is great, but be careful of taking the high road instead of the low road just because it happens to be there.

Originality can be fun and different, but it can also be weird and irrelevant. Either way, this choice will affect your design, content, images and entire business persona on the internet, so make it count. This will really set the ‘tone’ for the rest of your planning phase.

2. Take a Hard Look at Your Ideal Target Market

An excellent way to start to piece together the puzzle that will eventually become your online identity, is to do some extensive research into your ideal target market.

It will require some deep digging on your part, but it could help solve your image crisis by letting you know what your target demographic wants. Any good business knows that an online identity is constructed for the ‘client’ first.

Use Google to track down competitor businesses and see what they’ve done with their online image. Make a note of what you like about them, and what you would improve upon.

Don’t forget, this is your ‘ideal’ target market, because that’s really the kind of client you want to attract in the end. Pick the part of your business that is the busiest, and construct a list of features that describe your perfect client. Use it!

3. Create an Online Ethics Policy or Code of Conduct

Most businesses launch into their online pursuits without really thinking about the kind of ethics or moral code that they would like to instill in their online businesses.

When you take an afternoon to write down your business philosophy, make a list of strong ethics that you’d like your employees to follow when they work with your business online.

That way, no one will ever cross the line, and people will notice the effort that you put into your products, services and business as a whole. Build your brand around great research, solid ethics and clear goals.

Once you’ve done this, it’ll be easy to communicate what you want to a designer, a writer or a digital media producer.

What elements do you think every professional online brand should integrate into their image? Please tell us below!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.

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