HOW TO DISH UP AN IRRESISTIBLE ONLINE BRAND

Food & Lifestyle Blogger, Meiko Drew, shares the Essential Recipe to a Successful Startup Brand

In today’s world, it goes without saying that if you are an entrepreneur or your own personal brand, it is imperative to build a strong online presence. Whether you are trying to find your tribe of followers to influence or drive product sales through conversions, building your brand’s online reputation makes it easier for your potential audience/customers to find you.

On the other hand, given the abundance of information, the act of doing so can be overwhelming, confusing and sometimes frustrating. But if you have ever used a cookbook to help you make a dish, the process of developing an irresistible online brand can be as simple as following the steps I use to develop a new recipe:

  1. Figure out what you want to make
  2. Visualize the finished dish
  3. Configure the ingredients for the recipe
  4. Make sure it tastes good

KNOW WHAT’S ON THE MENU

Most people, in most cases, don’t go to a restaurant expecting their server to know exactly what they want. Instead they will browse a menu of options that help them narrow their cravings based on what the restaurant can deliver. On any given menu you will find specific details like the name and pictures of the dish, main ingredients, descriptions on how it tastes, price, etc. The menu serves as a channel in which the restaurant communicates its planned objectives and deliverables to its customers. Likewise, you must know in advance what objectives and deliverables you hope to meet through your brand.

Your menu is essentially a guideline for what success tastes like. In other words start by having a clear idea of your brand’s mission, target audience, personality, tone, and aesthetic. By having a clear vision of who you are as a brand and what you hope to achieve, it will allow you to create a mix of the appropriate ingredients aka “building blocks” needed to make an irresistible online brand.

VISUALIZE YOUR PLATING IN ADVANCE

Once I figure out what I want to make I take some time to visualize what the dish should look like upon completion. This step helps me plan my shopping list but most importantly, it allows me to think ahead about how to visually capture my audience. My objective when posting any food photography is to stop a casual browser in their tracks. In turn, in order to be irresistible, your online brand aesthetic needs to help you stand out from the crowd. From the design of your website to the font used for your logo, each element needs to reflect your brand essence and latter up to your overall objectives. Remember, in many cases, your online presence is your reader’s first impression of your brand and it is important to make a lasting first impression.

In addition, the look and feel of your brand across platforms like your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube needs be unified throughout. Develop a style guide that defines what colors, fonts, graphics, logos, and voice can be used in association with your brand. Create an archive of templates for profile headers and social media posts that drives uniformity. This ensures consistency no matter how someone encounters your brand.

Your menu is essentially a guideline for what success tastes like. In other words start by having a clear idea of your brand’s mission, target audience, personality, tone, and aesthetic.

DEVELOP A WINNING RECIPE

Any chef will tell you that the outcome of your dish can only be as good as the ingredients you start with. Translation, start with quality ingredients. In this case, your ingredients are equivalent to your online brand building blocks. With any recipe, the proper proportions and mix of ingredients have the potential to result in a masterpiece on a plate. Your brand’s irresistibility depends on how you mix these ingredients together.

So with that in mind, using building blocks like social media, and setting up an active brand profile, helps entrepreneurs rapidly accelerate their social capital and reach. Please note, all online building blocks are not created equal. You must understand that each potential building block, be it a blog, Facebook page or Instagram profile, is consumed differently by visitors. It is your job to understand those differences when leveraging them as a part brand strategy. The quality of each depends on its relevancy to your overall brand objective.

For example, say there is an interior design business who is focused on building brand awareness. If they have to choose, that business will more likely prioritize developing content for Instagram where weight is placed on imagery. Instagram allows them to showcase their project portfolio versus a platform like LinkedIn where the focus is more on talent acquisition and business communication.

That being said, it is important that you prioritize platforms based on relevancy to your brand. Make sure you are active on platforms where your target audience lives. While it is not necessary to have an active profile on every single platform, as a precaution and to plan for growth, it may be necessary to secure your username on any platforms of potential interest in case you choose to use them in the future.

MAKE IT TASTY & SHAREABLE

When preparing a dish that is being shared with others, the last thing you want your guest to do is stop eating after the first bite. As the cook you want the dish to be so delicious that they come back asking for seconds. In that same vein, your content needs to be tasty and delicious. Ok, ok I might be stretching this cooking analogy but just follow me. What I mean to say is that establishing an irresistible online brand requires you to tell a compelling story that opens your readers to connecting with you over and over again. The more authentic and relatable your voice, the more engagement you will draw. Also, adding a bit of thought leadership into the mix will help build credibility and establish you as an authority amongst your readers.

This should go without saying but you also need to know what seasonings to use to add your own flavor. You do so by 1) creating a human-like and transparent voice that allows for two-way communication, 2) using rich elements that elevate your content like photographs, info graphics, and videos and 3) giving away something of value like an opt-in or sweepstakes. All of these elements vastly increase your likability and tastiness amongst readers and when readers like you they share you with others.

The recipe for developing your online brand is not that hard. When you start by developing a strategic digital menu it helps you focus on relevant brand building ingredients that when cooked right, result in a brand that is not only tasty but down right irresistible to your target audience.

Meiko Drew is a corporate America retiree turned full-time food and lifestyle blogger at MeikoAndTheDish.com. To send feedback, questions, or simply connect socially @MeikoAndTheDish: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

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