The five best brands of the world right now? Apple, Google, Amazon, Coca-Cola and last, but certainly not least, Facebook.
Indeed, the fact shouldn’t be lost that four out of the five most successful forces in the world right now are technology-based companies – dominant businesses that have their pulse on our obsession with technology.
These are the ones that have us sleeping outside big box stores in anticipation of their latest gadget.
The evidence above makes itself clear: an online presence is not something businesses can opt out of any longer.
Think of your online presence as the virtual version of your business, one that is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You want to be there, offering a slice of what your company is all about (i.e. the essence of your brand) so that people don’t just choose your product that one time (i.e. the essence of digital marketing) but rather, your company. For the long haul.
It is through these online brandings tools, like social media, that your make a case for your brand in the digital world we find ourselves in.
Indeed, digital branding is the act of using digital channels as a means to increase your visibility and provide value while, in doing so, you build relationships with your customers to develop your brand. Digital branding examples? Social media and websites, to name but a couple.
Yocale also has a list of marketing features such as email marketing to build relationships with customers and to build your brand.
Here is an infographic that pulls together all of the current digital branding trends.
If you’re here, you certainly know the importance of digital branding in today’s increasingly digital world. The question then becomes, how are the best brands in the world utilizing the online space to propel their brand forward?
Certainly there are some lessons to be learned from the reigning champions and the digital branding examples they afford.
(Note: for the sake of differentiation, this article will discuss several other powerful businesses outside of the top five listed above).
While Apple recently lost the official title as the most valuable brand in the world to Google, it held this very coveted spot for five consecutive years.
Regardless, Apple still holds the title of being the most powerful tech giant of them all and a foray into what Apple is doing online is certainly worth a discussion.
What is Apple doing right in the digital world? What can all businesses take away from the brand that held the title of the most powerful one for five years?
There is article after article about what, exactly, Apple has done to take them to top. Surprisingly, a lot of it seems simple – so simple that we all should have thought of it ourselves.
First, consider Apple’s product unveilings – you know the ones. Apple has managed to create entire events around these unveilings and, as such, a lot of buzz.
What is interesting about Apple’s product unveilings is their near absence, or at least complete deemphasis on any of the products’ specs, from the processing speed, screen resolution, hard drive size, etc.
Instead, you would have heard the late Steve Jobs wax lyrical about what the product can do for you – how it can solve a problem in your life.
Apple keeps their digital marketing efforts simple. Not only when it comes to their product unveilings (which they have turned into global events, mind you) and their minimal product designs, but also when it comes to the space they occupy online.
Take a look at their website, for example (one of many very important online branding tools).
There, too, industry terms are left in the dust, replaced with copy that customers connect with. The idea is simplicity, yes, but also ensuring that the content discusses the ways in which the product can benefit the customer, improve their lives in some way, solve a problem and so on.
In summation, Apple uses the online space (their website) as a means to discuss their value to consumer – which is a powerful way to further their brand and not only increase sales but also create loyal customers.
Indeed, Apple is one company with one of the largest fanbase of equal part fanboys and fangirls.
Here is a list of rules to follow when it comes to excelling at copywriting for branding purposes.
Take a look at Apple’s most recent flagship, the iPhone 7. You will read words like “improves the most important aspects of the iPhone experience.” It mentions battery life, which is a problem for many of us.
You won’t see, at least not at the forefront, that its display screen is 4.7 inches or that its camera is 12MP.
Of course, industry terms certainly make an appearance, but they come secondary to copy that Apple’s customers understand and can connect with (i.e. “battery life” and “immersive stereo speakers”). That is what Apple does well both online (and offline, too).
So, what is the takeaway here? In short, businesses should ease up on industry related terms (i.e. simplicity is key) and write copy/blog posts that gets to the heart of what your customers want and need. Hint: know your target audience well.
Amazon snagged a spot on Brand Finance’s Global 500 list, coming in third place, right behind Google and Apple respectively.
Businesses both small and large alike can take a cue from one of the most powerful brands in the world. When it comes to its online presence, what is Amazon doing right?
As an online retailer, naturally, Amazon has mastered the art of online sales. A key aspect of their success?
You may not have guessed it, but the speed at which a page loads is directly linked to user experience and is something that pushed Amazon to the top. It is website optimization that is paramount to a business’s visibility and therefore being able to interact with the brand
Nearly a decade ago, Amazon conducted research and found that as seemingly insignificant as 100 milliseconds of latency might appear, it actually reduced their sales cost by 1% – findings that have been repeated again and again.
We’ve said it before, but we just don’t have the patience to wait for a website to load. In short, never prioritize the trappings over page speed. And secondly, check your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed tool while you’re at it.
We also know that Google considers page speed a ranking factor, which means that it is imperative that businesses consider this, because even a slight difference can move you significantly up or down the rankings.
In the meantime, you can brush up on all of the best SEO practices.
Indeed, SEO is one of many online branding strategies you need to think about now, if you aren’t already.
Another cue that businesses can take from Amazon? All of the user reviews that they offer up are clearly visible on their website.
It all comes down to social proof, which is a very important aspect of digital marketing and getting people to purchase your products or services – they trust other buyers more often than they trust faceless companies.
More reviews generate social proof for your business – the belief that your product can be trusted. In fact, the topic of social proof deserves its own discussion altogether.
We know that today’s consumers do all of their own research before making any kind of contact with a company, and online reviews play a significant part in the purchasing process.
That’s where having an email list can, yet again, prove itself a valuable mechanism to obtain customer reviews, but there are a number of additional ways to obtain this feedback, too.
Keep in mind that even negative reviews can be a means to improve the product in the future. Of course, if you offer a solid product, chances are that negative reviews will be very insignificant.
Here is how businesses can go about acquiring customer reviews/testimonials.
Lastly, a quick word about a “recommending similar products section” on your website – something else that Amazon does particularly well.
By this, we mean encouraging users to make more than one purchase at a single time, and doing so with similar products they are likely to want to buy – yet another important factor of digital marketing.
For example, you could bundle products together like Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” section or you might include a “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section, just like Amazon.
The point is that you want to make it easy for customers to make more than one purchase at a given time.
This is particularly worth a mention because this is a topic that doesn’t tend to generate as much discussion, even though this technique has delivered serious results for Amazon – results that any business would want to emulate.
In short, whether you own a hair salon or you own an acupuncture business, all businesses can apply these above strategies to increase their online sales and digital marketing efforts.
Next up? Coca-Cola – one of the most recognized brands in the world and yet a company without any ties to technology like the majority of the contenders on this list (which is precisely why we’ve included it on this list).
This is a brand that has had to face a number of challenges over the years, especially in a society that’s becoming increasingly health conscience.
Despite its challenges, however, it is a brand that has rode the wave and still remains among the most valuable brands in the world. Forbes, for example, puts Coca-Cola in its list of the top five valuable brands in the world; it also snagged a spot on Brand Finance’s Global 500 list.
So, what is a company that doesn’t have any sort of attachment to smartphones, social networks or even anything remotely related to technology, doing online?
They must be doing something right. And, indeed, they are.
They have mastered the art of the ad campaign, in particular, using online branding strategies such as social media in order to do so.
From the Happiness Project to its “Share a Coke” summer campaign – one of Coca Cola’s most effective campaigns in its history – there is a lot that businesses can learn.
Statistics for its “Share a Coke” campaign, for example, showed that the campaign led to a 2 percent increase in sales, even after ten years of overall declining sales.
Swapping out its iconic logo for the most 250 popular names (David, Chris, Erin, etc.), this is one Coca-Cola campaign that you likely remember well.
It begs the question: how did Coca-Cola propel people to start drinking cola again?
One aspect of why this particular campaign was so successful was because they passed the social media reigns to consumers. The consumers became brand ambassadors.
Brand ambassadors (i.e word of mouth) can do wonders for your brand.
Specifically, they targeted teens and millennials and encouraged them to share photos of themselves with their personalized can of coke, along with the hashtag #ShareaCoke.
Knowing your target audience (and then being able to target different segments of it) is a key strategy when it comes to building your brand online. That’s precisely what Coke did with this campaign.
The reason why people were so compelled to share was because of the level of personalization and emotional intent behind the entire campaign.
For example, Coke cleverly made it seem as though young people were connecting with their best friends as opposed to having anything explicitly to do with the company itself.
In this way, Coke used social media for not only digital marketing purposes (to sell more cans of Coke) but also to increase their visibility and also positively influence their brand.
Coke then rewarded people by sharing their photos on the company’s website and on billboards as well.
The result? It became the leading global trending topic; more than 500,000 photos were shared online; it amassed 25 million Facebook followers, and also lead to a lot of brand exposure and sales.
Another aspect of why this particular campaign was so massively successful was because of its powerful call to action: “share a coke”; not only to purchase a can of the coke itself, but to also participate in the online conversation by sharing photos.
Here is how to create super effective calls-to-action.
The call to action was particularly catchy, which made it all the more successful. The takeaway in all of this is that even businesses without the assets of Coke can still take a cue from Coca Cola in their own marketing efforts.
Target a specific segment of your customer base, entice them with a powerful call to action and let your customers become brand ambassadors on your behalf, allowing you to connect with customers that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
This is a winning, and multi faceted approach to branding online.
Whether you consult Brand Finance’s Global 500 rankings or Forbes’ The World’s Most Valuable Brands, Google is at the very top of them both – certainly one of the most recognized brands in the world, one that even surpasses language barriers. Their reach is indeed far and powerful.
Consider this: all of Google’s services are entirely free – none of us has to pay a single penny to use any of their products, from Gmail to Chrome, and yet their monetary value was most recently pegged at 109.5 billion.
They make themselves a free, necessary part of your lives, and make money afterward.
So, how did Google become the most valuable brand in the world? What are they doing right online?
They have a monopoly on online advertising. Google, along with Facebook, controls nearly all of the online advertising space – well, a whopping 99% of it anyway.
What’s more, their ad revenues increased sharply in the last year, which, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, is because IAB believes that this is the path to connect with customers today.
So, how can business get a slice of this Google online advertising pie? And, perhaps of equal importance, why would they want to?
The ability to target the right customer only scratches the surface of why businesses need to think about online advertising, whether in the form of PPC campaigns like AdWords or with online advertisements on social networks like Facebook.
Advertising is much more successful when it targets the right audience.
Indeed, traditional PPC via Adwords is one very effective digital marketing tool and, by extension, one way to increase your visibility and thus build your brand by providing customers with an opportunity to interact with (and buy!) your product or service.
Think of how many times you’ve noticed and even clicked on those links, provided by Adwords, at the top of your Google searches – they’ve probably caught your attention quite a few times, to say the least.
Wouldn’t you want to be at the top of Google’s search engine in order to drive targeted traffic to your website through people who are specifically looking for your products or services?
Even small businesses can benefit from paid search and social search. It is faster than SEO and other forms of content marketing, allowing you to drive traffic to your website within hours.
We must also consider that Google is in power right now and businesses must play by its rules across all fronts. That means delivering quality content and optimizing web pages so that their pages show up at the top of Google’s search results.
As you can see, it also means investing in their advertising services if you want to stand a chance in order to be seen and heard (remember: visibility is key to being able to build a brand in the first place).
They were smart enough to make themselves indispensable to enough people that they control most of the Internet’s traffic, allowing them to capitalize in the end. More traffic equals more power and more opportunities to cash in.
When we think of social media’s founding fathers, we know no better name than Mark Zuckerberg. So, what is the biggest social network, one of the most powerful brands in the world, doing right online?
Mobile marketing, of course. Indeed, Facebook has been prioritizing mobile for the past several years and it has finally paid off, turning itself into a complete advertising supermachine – so much so that at one point, mobile advertising was responsible for 80% of Facebook’s ad revenue.
Mobile optimization provides a strong foundation that is primarily for visibility purposes and thus, building your brand.
You could say that Facebook is leading the mobile marketing trend and nobody does it better than Facebook.
What’s interesting about Facebook’s mobile prioritization is that they went from zero to 100 with mobile.
It was only a few years ago that Zuckerberg and team went from a poorly designed mobile app to mobile stardom in a single year, increasing their monthly mobile visits and their mobile ad revenue all at once.
So, what does this mean for regular businesses, you ask? They need to start including mobile development in their marketing strategies across all fronts. For example, ensuring that websites are optimized for mobile devices is going to be significant for your profitability.
Facebook, for example, prioritized mobile to such a degree that they made their staff use mobile apps exclusively for a given period of time.
They prioritized the user’s experience on mobile, ensuring fast response times and ads that didn’t get in the way of the user experience.
Just as people have been moving away from desktop computers in favour of the more portable laptop computer, people are increasingly using their smartphones to power much of their online activity. Mobile, much like video, is the way of the future.
Indeed, study after study is showing that smartphones are overtaking desktops when it comes to Internet browsing – research shows that people now spend more time on their smartphones than desktops, and that has been the case for a couple of years.
This is easy to see once you consider the ways in which the mobile phone has been embedded in every facet of our lives – unlike any other device. Many of us go to sleep with our device and we wake up with it by our side, too.
In response to this, businesses are going to have to take a cue from both Facebook and all of the data to support the move toward mobile and invest in mobile apps, mobile SEO and mobile ads.
Businesses are already incorporating mobile into their marketing strategy and if they aren’t, they risk losing out to their competitors who are.
From making your pages as fast as possible to incorporating mobile into your marketing mix, take a cue from the best brands of the world and the ways in which they are making use of digital branding and online branding in order to become the best company you can be.