Crafting a distinctive brand is one of the fundamental ways of making a product or service stand out from the crowd. The most successful brands are those that forge a visual, cultural, and (most importantly) emotional connection with their customers.

Without decent brand recognition, PPC ads and social media campaigns can be an uphill struggle. But with a strong brand, any campaign will deliver online conversions. In fact, 70% of consumers look for a known retailer when deciding which search results to click online.

So, how exactly does a brand become so important in driving online conversions?

A message to the world

A good brand doesn’t just happen by accident. Building a brand for your business takes time and dedication – the household names we see today are the result of years or decades of strategic positioning, and a whole lot of hard work.

So why bother, if the competition already have a much more well-known brand than you?

Associating your business with certain visuals and qualities – whether or not someone else has been doing it for longer – is a crucial way of winning the hearts and minds of customers. It’s a worthwhile investment, no matter who else is doing it. Every business strives to create top-quality products; even if yours is a one-of-a-kind, you can be sure that competitors will follow. And so they should.

However, when a particular product or value proposition s associated with a brand, you send messages to the entire world, perhaps the most important being, “You can trust me!”

Big names like Ben & Jerry’s are premium, wholesome and playful – but more importantly, even before you purchase a tub you know you’ll be getting a great-tasting product. Branding forges an emotional connection between your business and your buyer, and helps them make their mind up before they even realise they’re trying to choose one over another.

How do we know this? Well, for starters we can measure it:

Around 59% of customers in this survey from Business2Community said they prefer to buy new products that are familiar to them. And why wouldn’t they? Who wants to part with their hard-earned cash for something unfamiliar? Another way of saying this is that without building a brand which inspires trust and loyalty, you could be losing over half of your target market to competitors with stronger brands.

A good brand inspires loyalty and trust, which makes the purchasing decision that little bit easier. But why is this even more important online? Let’s find out…

Why is this so important for online conversions?

In the dark ages before the digital age, people would’ve discovered and interacted with your business in the real world, offline. Before online shopping for example, one would be in the physical presence of the goods they bought or meet the people who provided the service they needed.

But in the digital world, they may never actually interact with your brand in person. So how can consumers trust that what they purchase online is what they want? The answer of course is branding.

A brand inspires trust – reputable brands are of reputable quality. Of course, branding has always had a place in purchase decisions, but when it comes to digital marketing this is doubly important. Within Search Engine Marketing, for example, brands which individuals trust are more likely to be clicked. In fact, brand-aware users are twice as likely to purchase from you.

A succinct observation from this SearchEngineJournal article is that without brand awareness you don’t have the luxury of people forming that all-important emotional connection until they click your webpage. Of course, ranking well on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is undoubtedly an advantage – especially within the top three results.

However (for both PPC ads and website listings), even at the dizzying heights of the first page of Google it’s likely that a consumer will pick an established brand over one that ranks above it. Of course, ranking highly on search engines increases brand authority in and of itself (especially when your page appears alongside your PPC ads). The problem with this is that when you lose your ranking, your brand authority is lost as well.

The vast majority of click-throughs are from brand recognition – not content strength!

If you find yourself ranked two spots higher than a more authoritative brand then it should be no surprise that they are potentially taking the lion’s share of your traffic. This holds true for the ranking position of your PPC ads as well as your website’s position on SERP’s.

If you want to make the most of any digital marketing strategy, a trustworthy brand is necessary to maximize your results. Strong brands lead to online conversions. In fact, branding is the fundamental foundation not only for SEM but most digital marketing strategies – for example, 38% of mums are more likely to buy products from brands which other women ‘Like’ on Facebook. If women love your brand enough to drop it a ‘Like,’ more online conversions will follow.

The message is clear: create a trustworthy brand with a reputation that sticks with your target market, and online conversions will follow!

Mariann Silud

Mariann is a Senior Digital Strategist at iProspect Australia, responsible for the key future growth and the top-to-bottom management of iProspect’s digital marketing activities with a focus on performance based integrated digital marketing solutions.