FindItMore | Walk into an Apple Store. Or imagine that you magically appeared inside one. For sure, you’ll be able to identify which store you are in immediately.
The same thing applies to Apple’s website. From the simple navigation to the minimalistic visual elements and everything in between, you’ll know that you are on their website even if the URL has been hidden from you.
Now go to your own business website. Do you think your most loyal customers will know which site they are logged on to even if the URL is hidden?
The largest companies which have embraced the need to tie online branding with offline branding understand the value of consistency across the different branding platforms they use.
Annually, companies big and small funnel their income toward marketing. In fact, larger companies invest as much as 10 percent of their income in marketing.
A substantial chunk of that goes to branding.
Your brand transcends the logo and the visual elements you use. From your choice of images, fonts, voice, and customer experience, the assets you use must exude your brand.
Why should you even invest in branding? The simple answer is that it acts as the primary bridge between your company and its target customers. It sets the tone in terms of client expectations, not only from your offerings. More importantly, it lets clients know what they can expect from your company.
Differentiating online branding from offline branding
Larger companies typically set up a designated team for handling all of its offline marketing efforts. These teams include personnel for print, TV, and radio, printing and postage, signage, and even people for live marketing events like conferences.
All of these can use up a substantial portion of your marketing budget.
Online marketing is different because most of the platforms are made available to individuals and entities for free. Although you can use paid tools or upgrade your accounts, broadly speaking, you can establish an online presence without spending a substantial amount of money.
And for something that you hardly spend money on but can increase your revenues, investing time and effort is a pretty good tradeoff.
But perhaps, the most significant allure of online marketing and branding is simply the fact that your customers are already online. All you have to do is to choose which platforms they prefer.
Tying your offline and online branding strategies together
In offline marketing, the tasks and designated personnel are clearly delineated. That is why in larger firms, it is not unusual to have individuals or teams dedicated to a specific traditional marketing platform, like a separate unit for print media and another for TV and radio and event marketing.
In online marketing, these lines simply do not exist. Your website, social media accounts, content marketing, and other platforms, are all under the umbrella of digital marketing.
That, however, does not mean that online marketing and branding should be accorded a lesser stature. No.
Even more critical, the delineation between online and offline marketing should be erased because, at the end of the day, the goal is essentially the same – connect with your target audience.
But how exactly can you bring together your offline and online branding efforts to achieve consistency across the different channels that you use?
- Start with what you have
If you already have a team handling traditional marketing for your company, you can leverage the team’s experience and assets as your starting point for your foray into the digital realm. Starting with your existing assets lowers the barrier of entry into digital marketing.
- Take it one step at a time
Another way to minimize confusion as you begin developing an online presence is to start with something small. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Perhaps you can start with your logo.
- A style guide is essential
Unifying your online and offline strategies into a cohesive unit requires a set of guidelines that can be used as a primary reference point when things begin to look murky.
Again, take small steps to avoid overwhelming your team. An excellent place to start would be establishing the fonts, colors, voice, and statements that you want to be associated with the brand.
As you move forward, this style guide should be your team’s reference point across different platforms.
- Align marketing efforts
Simply put, all members of your team should be on one page. That means that online campaigns should be in sync with your offline campaigns.
- Keep a pulse on your customers
The customers you engage with online may be different from the ones you have offline. More often than not, the latter prefer more conventional interactions.
Start by identifying which customers prefer offline interactions as well as those you can rustle up to go digital. After that, your team can make the necessary adjustments to ensure that there isn’t too much of a jump for these customers.
For clients that prefer traditional platforms, you can tweak your messaging to make it more appealing to them while utmost care should be taken in order to keep your efforts aligned with those online, from the voice down to the feel.
Consistency is key
One of the gravest mistakes that you can make is to think about online and offline marketing as being distinct from one another. Although the channels used may differ from one another, at the end of the day, the goal is the same – influence the customer.
Studies indicate that customers need to be exposed to a brand message at least seven times before buying. That number may seem too high, but if you combine your online and offline efforts seamlessly, it is certainly achievable.
With continuity and consistency, you are able to present your message clearly and cohesively, translating to a higher conversion rate.
Striking a balance between offline and online marketing strategies may seem confusing at first, especially where there are no clear cut paths for companies to try. The key here is to try and see what works best for the brands while remaining consistent across the different channels used.