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Branding a Business 101: How to Stand Out in the Digital Age

Digital Marketing

 Branding a Business 101: How to Stand Out in the Digital Age

The digital age has made businesses more efficient and more accessible, but at the same time, it has also intensified competition in many ways. Advertisements, promotions, content, and so on in the digital space are all vying for consumers' attention, so ensuring your business and brand stand out amidst the crowd is integral to success.

Creating a good brand is an essential part of growth and marketing, yet arguably it is an area that many people often need to pay more attention to. Why do some businesses have that magic charm and continuously get recognized while others get swept aside and ignored?

Ultimately, it all boils down to branding, and with the proliferation of social media, ensuring that your company gets the exposure it deserves has never been more important. If you are a business owner or have completed an accredited online MBA, you would probably understand the importance of branding. But the crucial question is how? There are many ways to ensure your brand stands out, but they all require you to run the extra mile to gain an advantage over your competitors. Let’s explore a few factors that are most decisive for brand success.

Having a Clear Strategy

It sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Yet the numbers show a different reality. According to a study conducted by Outbound Engine in 2019, more than 50% of small-to-medium business (SMB) owners did not have a marketing plan, and 58% said they spend 5 hours or less a day on marketing or market research. Without a strategy or a plan, your business is not performing to its true potential. 

More product or service promotion means more recognition and more recognition means more potential customers. Even if your business has the best sales approach, if people do not know that your company exists, all these efforts are rendered fruitless. This makes a marketing strategy, and especially a digital one, so important. Even highly established brands such as Amazon and Microsoft allocate a considerable sum to digital advertising to attract consumer attention.

A popular digital marketing strategy has been social media marketing. As its name suggests, it involves everything your business does through social media. Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are several platforms you can use to increase brand awareness. But this goes beyond merely posting; you will also need to be analytical and able to create strategies based on performance analytics and data. Quality, engagement, and consistency should be the three foundations that form a social media marketing strategy. For example, quick short-form content platforms like TikTok require high publishing frequency. Overall, 86% of businesses that use social media have experienced an increase in exposure, and 55% reported improved sales.

Watch Your Competitors

There is nothing wrong with monitoring competitors' activities; in fact, it is an intelligent way to gain inspiration and help you develop your brand strategies. Learning from competitors does not mean directly copying their methods and techniques, nor does it assume a zero-sum game.

Watching and learning from your competitors means taking notes on what strategies have worked and what has yet to work for them. Using these lessons can guarantee that you avoid repeating their mistakes. Understanding who your competitors are, the types of products or services they offer, and how they are provided to the public can make your products or services and marketing stand out; capitalizing on opportunities your competitors may have missed, for example, is one of the best ways to differentiate your brand from others.

One remarkable case study is Zoom and Skype. At the beginning of 2020, Skype had a 32.4% market share compared to Zoom's 26.4% — one year later, Skype dropped to just 6.6% and Zoom rose to 48.7%. One key factor to the success of Zoom is its simple freemium model. Zoom offers free 40-minute meetings, and users wishing for longer calls can pay a simple $15 or $19 per month license with other additional features. Zoom branded itself under the slogan, ‘Make communications frictionless,’ cultivating a reputation of being accessible, easy to use, and reliable. Skype, in contrast, has had an identity crisis since its acquisition by Microsoft, as seen by its unwanted redesigns and imitation of other applications. The consequence of Skype’s lack of strategy is being overtaken by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other platforms such as Discord, which is popular amongst the youth.

Zoom is still riding the revolution it unleashed steadily in the post-pandemic era, having a strong future Q1 2025 fiscal year outlook. Zoom precisely learned and succeeded in the places where Skype failed, and it is a lesson that you can adapt to your business marketing strategy.

Understanding the Trends

A good brand always stays ahead of the unfolding trend curve – and the best brands are trendsetters. Digital trends, in particular, are evolving daily, and ensuring you’re one step ahead will automatically give you a competitive advantage in your industry. Don’t be afraid to spend the time to study what trends are setting the game in the industry, as it’ll be worthwhile in the long run. Research should continue throughout, as staying ahead of that curve requires constant care and attention.

One of the basic ways to learn about trends is to understand your audience – and, most importantly, understand them well. Your brand caters to their needs and wants, so naturally, you would need to learn about how they consume information, what platforms they use, and what sort of content they like. This will certify that your brand message is tailored to their style, and in the digital age, knowing your audience has never been more convenient. Google Analytics is one of the many tools you can use to conduct effective market research.

However, the best companies are the ones that take it up a notch higher by not only following the trends but also creating and setting the trends. The big fashion brands are particularly adept at this. For example, Ralph Lauren has been notorious for reviving the ‘Old Money Aesthetic,’ which has become particularly popular with the Gen-Z demographic. Trendsetting businesses find and exploit new markets. Occasionally, these companies also disrupt entire industries – for instance, the rise of Amazon and its ‘one-click shopping’ has completely revolutionized e-commerce.

You don’t have to be a multinational conglomerate to be a trendsetter, but you do need the courage to shake things up in your industry. A little innovation, experimentation, creativity, and thinking outside the box can go a long way to set your brand apart from competitors and help you create a distinct brand identity.

Reflecting on Your Market Position and Having Patience

What sets your business apart from others? What is the charm that attracts customers to your business? These are questions that constitute the meaning of market position. Your industry may have hundreds or even thousands of companies offering similar or even the same products or services as you. As a business owner, it is your job to convince the customer why they should choose your company over your competitors and why the thing you provide has unique value to them. Apple, for example, has a powerful market positioning based on innovation, design, and customer experience. It’s one of the secret ingredients of Apple’s continued success and ability to develop a highly loyal customer base.

Finally, always avoid putting too much on your plate. Taking steps rather than leaps and having patience are virtues of brand creation. Instead of taking on brands bigger than you, build trust with your piece of the market first. It is only after you have consolidated your foundation on this piece that you can expand into other markets.

These are just some of the most fundamental strategies you can use for your business to ensure it stands out and performs at its best in the digital age. The online space is crowded, so being recognizable by people is ever more necessary.

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