Skip to main content

Hey there! Free trials are available for Standard and Essentials plans. Start for free today.

Branding Your Online Business

Learn the basics of branding, brand identity, and their elements that you’ll need to brand your online store.

Branding The Process of Bringing Your Brand to Life Hero Illustration

What a product does, what it looks like, how much it costs, or even how it tastes often has little to do with why we buy it. Why might you spend an extra 50 cents on a 2-liter of Coke instead of getting a similar-tasting, generic cola?

Purchasing decisions are often driven by how a buyer feels. If a company, product, or service seems to align with their personal values, they’re more likely to buy. This is what branding is all about.

What is a brand?

Branding is how one business differentiates itself from other similar products or services. A brand helps distinguish a product or service. It includes the design, name, trademarked symbol, color scheme, or music associated with your brand.

Successful brands make their target market feel comfortable purchasing a product or service. Ideally, your brand will make them want to buy from you because their perception of your product jibes with their beliefs or concerns.

Take, for example, the car brands Lexus and Toyota. They’re owned by the same parent company. The vehicles themselves are similar in many ways—they even share some of the same parts and technology. But the brands are distinct: Lexus evokes a sense of luxury, while Toyota focuses on reliability.

What is branding?

Simply put, branding is the act of creating a brand. But the concepts, planning, execution, and maintenance that go into branding can be involved. All the steps in the branding process involve choosing or creating elements designed to evoke a specific feeling in your target audience or customers.

Why is branding important?

Branding is important because it sets your product or service apart from that of the competition. This enables you to:

  • Stand out as different in the minds of your target customers
  • Achieve brand recognition, where customers can identify your product with a quick glance or even by a few notes of a jingle
  • Inspire feelings in customers that align with their personal identities
  • Unify your marketing strategy around a core set of brand elements
  • Give your product or service a unique advantage over a competitor

What goes into branding?

The process of branding consists of several elements that all work together. These include strategy, awareness, identity, and positioning.

Brand strategy

Your brand strategy consists of long-term objectives meant to make your product’s brand attract customers—and the methods you’ll use to achieve those objectives. You first have to outline the goals of your brand. They could be to establish your product or service firmly within the minds of a specific target demographic. A brand strategy could also have the goal of changing how the public views your brand in response to negative press or previous strategies that didn’t work out.

You then craft your business branding in a way that achieves these long-term goals. The rollout of your branding is coordinated to meet your objectives.

Brand awareness

Brand awareness refers to how memorable and recognizable your brand is. A company like McDonald’s, for example, has a very high brand awareness thanks to its classic golden arches.

Creating brand awareness requires you to make careful decisions about how your brand is presented. These might include:

  • Making your logo easy to distinguish from that of others by using distinct colors, fonts, or shapes
  • Incorporating music or other sounds in videos or radio advertisements and consistently using the same or similar sound choices

Once you’ve crafted a unique, recognizable brand, you have to get it out there. Some options for doing so are:

  • Starting a podcast
  • Partnering with other brands
  • Doing giveaways
  • Guest blogging
  • Advertising on social media
  • Hashtagging, liking, or commenting on social media in the name of your brand

Brand identity

Brand identity includes everything your company creates to convey the desired image to your target consumers. It involves not just elements that craft your brand, but things your company and its employees do in view of the public.

For example, the NBA uses certain things for its branding and others to establish its brand identity. The NBA logo is part of its branding, as is its slogan, “Where Amazing Happens.”

The NBA’s brand identity, on the other hand, is fortified by other decisions. For instance, the fining of its players for confronting fans. Arguing with a fan has little to do with the NBA’s brand, but the NBA wants fans to feel safe going to games and expressing themselves. The perception of safety and freedom are part of the NBA’s brand identity.

If you run an online-only business, brand identity is still relevant and important. Anything posted on social media is broadcast to the world. Your target audience makes judgments based on how your business profile comes across. Identity is important for small businesses too, since they can interact with their customers on a very personal level.

Brand positioning

Brand positioning refers to the space a company occupies in the minds of its customers. It is meant to cement your product or service as the go-to option given a set of choices.

For example, Verizon Wireless sought to make themselves “America’s largest, most reliable 4G LTE network.” By erecting cell towers and putting 4G networking components on building rooftops and facades, Verizon took steps to establish this as not just a slogan but a brand position. When a customer has to choose between cell carriers, they may consider Verizon as a reliable option for nationwide 4G LTE service.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Verizon’s brand position is the strongest in your particular town or in a rural area. Another brand, such as T-Mobile, may have designed their brand positioning to put them top-of-mind in your area.

What are some tangible elements of branding?

A lot of abstract work goes into defining your brand. But you also need concrete representations of it. Two ways to really bring your brand to life are your logo and tagline.

A brand’s logo is a snapshot of what the brand represents. The logo is made up of colors, shapes, images, fonts, and positioning choices that set a product apart the moment someone sees the logo.

One of the most popular branding examples of how logos can be used to convey different messages is the comparison between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

While Coca-Cola and Pepsi are both popular cola soft drinks with similar flavors, their logos are completely different. Each difference aligns with a feeling or value the company is trying to evoke.


Coca-Cola’s logo uses a slightly darker red than Pepsi’s, hinting at a classic, slightly more serious tone. Pepsi’s red is brighter. Pepsi also uses red, white, and blue, which helps draw an association with American values.


The Coca-Cola font has classic swoops and curves reminiscent of its original font. This may evoke a feeling of tradition and treasured memories.

While early Pepsi logos also had cursive swirls, their most recent iterations consist of plain sans serif letters. The lines are clean and minimalistic. Pepsi’s logo has a more modern feel to it, one that is devoted to what’s hot now as opposed to what resonated for past generations.


The shapes each logo uses are also symbolic and related to the feelings they may be trying to inspire in consumers.

The swooping ribbon under the “Coca-Cola” is shaped like it just came off a gift. This may make the consumer feel like having a Coke is a special occasion. They can enjoy it while reminiscing about times spent with family—or making new memories during a special moment.

Pepsi uses a very different shape to inspire a feeling. The red, white, and blue circle to the left of the word “Pepsi” is known as the “Pepsi smile.” You can see it as either a charmingly lopsided grin that speaks of friendship and connection.

Granted, when it comes to logos, perception is reality, and we don’t always know what the designer was aiming for. But your logo can instill a sense of trust and familiarity in your customers and demonstrate that your brand aligns with their values.


A tagline is a short statement or expression that conveys a message central to your branding strategy. It can be addressed to the customer, or it can be something you want the customer to say as they use or consume your product. Popular past and current taglines include:

  • Nike: Just Do It
  • Ford: Go Further
  • Apple: Think Different
  • McDonald’s: I’m Lovin’ It
  • Burger King: Be Your Way

A look at Burger King’s and McDonald’s taglines shows how they can help differentiate your product.

McDonald’s: “I’m Lovin’ It”

McDonald’s famous tagline has stood the test of time—it’s been around for almost 20 years—primarily because it sends a message many people can connect with: the love of food. McDonald’s put their tagline in the first person, so anyone saying it would be making a declaration about how they feel about the McDonald’s experience: They love it. Further, dropping the “g” at the end of “loving” gives the phrase a down-to-earth, casual feel.

Burger King: “Be Your Way”

Burger King’s slogan used to be “Have It Your Way,” which promoted their willingness to customize orders and embraced the idea of being different. “Be Your Way” has a similar message of welcoming individuality and personal choice. The slogan was launched in conjunction with an ad campaign aimed at millennials, a group that allegedly likes to have things happen on their terms.

How can social media be used as part of a branding strategy?

Social media, especially for an online business or a website, plays a critical role because it keeps the brand in front of its target customers. Current and potential customers can:

  • Forward posts, images, and videos that show your company’s branding
  • Like and comment on posts and videos you put up, enhancing your brand’s position
  • Write formal reviews or make comments about your products or services

To take advantage of social media, you can bring your website or online business brand to you customers and potential customers by:

  • Posting content, such as videos and images, with your logo superimposed
  • Only creating posts that support your brand identity
  • Only liking and forwarding posts that align with your company’s core values
  • Liking and commenting on the content of organizations or people you’d like to partner with
  • Taking note of who follows your competition and targeting those groups with posts
  • Keeping your branding consistent across all your website pages, including “minor” details like fonts and color schemes

How can you get started?

Branding is all about ensuring your product or service makes your target audience feel the way you want them to. If your brand resonates with your potential customers, you’ll establish brand loyalty. Connecting with your customers to showcase your brand is easy with Mailchimp. Get started with Mailchimp for free today to start engaging with customers and building your brand.

Share This Article