brand from scratch featured image

How to Build a Rock-Solid Online Brand from Scratch

Are you starting a brand from scratch? You’ve come to the right place. 

Unless your business already has some sort of following or customer base, whether, on social media or other platforms, you might be wondering how exactly you can build a brand when you’re starting from zero – no website, no email list, and no social media following.

In this post, we’re going to talk about the importance of a rock-solid brand, especially from a marketing perspective. We’re going to see why starting with a strong brand is a powerful way to connect and engage customers like never before.

Then finally, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to help you get on the road to building your brand from the ground up. Ready to make that brand a reality? 

Table of Contents

Role of branding in marketing

What most people mistake about branding is assuming it only covers the visual aspect of your business – things like your logo, your brand colors, your website look, and the like. 

But branding goes beyond that. A strong brand isn’t one that is just visually pleasing or consistent; a strong brand is one that can connect with customers emotionally. 

In fact, a Customer Thermometer survey found that over 60% of men and women have felt an emotional connection to a brand. And out of the many emotions, they might feel when connected to a brand, the top two are interest and trust.

Image source: Customer Thermometer

These two emotions are especially important for business because consumers prefer purchasing from brands they’re either familiar with or brands they like. In effect, it’s easier to launch new products or push future campaigns because you know you have a dedicated base of customers who are willing to keep buying from you.

Do you need to be a marketing expert to create a strong brand?

So this begs the question: how do you become a brand that connects with customers if you’re starting from scratch? Do you need to be a marketing guru or branding expert to build a solid brand?

The short answer is no. The long answer can be explained using a case study of a now-ubiquitous online brand, Siteground.

Siteground’s humble origins began as a project between a few tech-savvy friends. None of them had any marketing or branding experience. But Siteground was able to stand out in the extremely crowded web hosting market by implementing some smart branding plays, namely focusing on high-quality customer experiences and handcrafted solutions for anyone looking for reliable and top-performing hosting.

How to build a brand from scratch

Now that we’ve seen why developing a strong brand from the ground up is key to create a thriving business, let’s take a look at these essential steps that will help you build your brand from scratch.

Start with your “why”

Allow us to use the often-cited Simon Sinek talk about the importance of your “why” as a business. 

Start with why your brand exists and why it matters to customers. This not only informs the rest of your business operations and succeeding brand strategy, but also is the “why” that will resonate with your ideal clients. 

Dig deep into what will make your brand different from other brands, even if you’re selling the same product or service. You can also think about why people should buy from you instead of the competition – after all, there is space for all of us in business, so it’s a matter of finding the market that connects to your brand most of all.

Be clear and transparent about what you stand for

Just like people, your brand ought to have values that it stands for. These values must also be clear for customers, and the way you run your business will be based precisely on these values.

Having clearly-defined values can help you build your brand even in the face of big business decisions. You’ll also be able to identify employees who have similar values, so you can build a team that stands for the same thing.

This also matters from your consumers’ perspective. Consumers expect brands to stand for good and to do good. 64% of customers say they build a relationship with brands based on shared values.

Take this example of Girlguiding Invoicing’s commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. In their statement, they show their consumers that they are serious about promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities, as well as joining in the movement against racism in the United States.

Identify your buyer persona

Create a buyer persona that tells you who your customer is at a glance. In this buyer persona, include basic demographic information and also your customers’ habits, likes, and goals. Identify media sites and social platforms they might be on, and look at the pain points that may be keeping them from their goals.

Keep your buyer persona handy when you create new branding strategies, and constantly update this document the more you learn about your customer.

Example of a very simple buyer persona (Image source: Shopify)

Set the tone

Your brand is going to have a personality just like your consumers, so flesh out the voice and tone you’ll have across all your communication channels.

Will you be a serious brand? Or do you have a quirky side? Do you inject subtle wit in your copywriting, or are you leaning more towards bold and powerful statements?

Your tone ought to be consistent throughout your content marketing efforts, and it also helps once you start offboarding marketing tasks to a team or an agency.

Craft your unique selling proposition

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from the myriad of brands that may be offering the same thing.

Are you perhaps an online store that can do same-day delivery? Can you promise better customer service than the competition?

As you build your own brand, also consider how other brands, companies, and third-party creators might be able to build upon your offer, as well as how it may feel to customers if you limit features, integrations, and the like.

Here’s an example: Netflix is notorious for blocking users from using a VPN while they stream. Users have been installing VPNs to connect to global servers that can give them access to more content that isn’t available in their area, but Netflix has been making it harder by clamping down on VPN usage.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide such a great experience for Netflix users who want to make the most of their subscriptions. 

Take a page out of these open-source software developers who allow third-party creators to customize and improve their app with their own upgrades and features. Sometimes giving people more can be a strong selling point, even if the source of additional features and benefits comes from somebody else.

Develop your brand kit

Next, we can finally talk about the visual aspect of your brand. This is where you can choose colors, fonts, graphic styles, formatting, and the like.

All these will help you communicate your message as well as establish the general feel of your brand. Familiarize yourself with some general visual branding decisions and what they might convey to customers. Here are a few examples of visual elements and what they usually signal:

  • Minimalist visuals can communicate luxury and simplicity.
  • Big bold colors can be interpreted as fun.
  • Cursive fonts can communicate femininity.

Your visuals will then cascade into your social media, website design, online store, email marketing templates, press releases, and more.

No matter if you are a solopreneur, bootstrapped founder, or public software company having a brand kit is essential for communicating with prospective customers or with internal employees. You can check out Colorcinch – an intuitive design tool that lets you do amazing photo edits and craft stunning graphics essential for your brand kit.

With short-form videos gaining traction on social media Cantva helps you save time and repurpose your videos with their editing features. Gary Vaynerchuk was ahead of the curve! Imagine you edit online videos and convert them into short-form TikTok videos, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram reels.

Want to learn more? Well, [Download Gary Vee’s Content Model].

Gary Vaynerchuck Content Medel

Choose your marketing channels

Part of building a brand from scratch also means identifying the right channels that will show off your brand and marketing messages. Call back our step on creating a buyer persona. You’ll want to refer to where your customers are hanging out, so you’re able to meet them where they already are.

Are they on popular social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter? Are they perhaps avid Pinterest users? Perhaps they’re often browsing news websites?

Also consider channels that will always provide a return on investment, especially email marketing. Of course, we know consumers respond best to personalized content, so make sure you implement this tactic in your email marketing as well. Take customers through a nurture sequence, send them targeted offers, and you’ll be able to convert more leads into sales.

Set up your blog

Bop Design has found that 72% of marketers said they believe branded content was more effective than advertising in a magazine, while 69% agreed it was more effective than doing PR campaigns and direct mail.

And one of the most cost-efficient yet effective ways to create and promote branded content is through your own blog. If you can create highly relevant and targeted posts that answer customers’ needs, questions, and desires, then you’ll be able to take them through the Know-Like-Trust cycle faster.

Your blog is also a space where consumers get to know your brand, your values, your brand voice, and where they can truly get the most value from you.

Focus on building relationships

Relationship-building is the heart of great branding. You want your brand to be a part of customers’ lives. 

Take, for example, a strong brand on social media. If any of your followers were engaging with your content constantly, sending in replies on polls and surveys, and mentioning your brand online, then these are some determinants of a strong brand-consumer relationship.

Don’t get caught up in the vanity metrics like follower count – you can have a small following that’s incredibly engaged and connected with your brand, or you can have a huge following that doesn’t really care about your brand at all.

Track and monitor your results

Finally, track the results of your branding tactics to see how well they’re working in your overall business strategy. While determining the effectiveness of branding efforts isn’t often as straightforward as measuring your email list growth or website traffic, there are still several indicators of branding success.

For example, do many customers respond to your feedback forms or leave reviews? Do your customers refer other potential leads your way? 

Determine which metrics are most important in telling you that your branding plays are working well, and don’t be discouraged if it takes time before you get there. 

Because branding can feel like such an abstract thing we’re meant to play in the long game of marketing, it means putting in the time and effort. So don’t let that effort go to waste, and track important KPIs and numbers.

Wrap up

Building a brand is an exciting step for business owners and marketers. This is truly where you’re able to define who your brand is for your customer, and what role it plays in their lives. With the right strategies and tips, you can build a brand that people love and will support today and for many years to come.

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook