What is your online brand? It’s everything your organisation does online. From your social media platforms and website, to the comments you post on online reviews. How your customers see your organisation is key to its success.

Your online brand is your shop window. Make sure it appeals to your customer and what they are looking for. It should tell them exactly what they should expect if they walk through the door and why they should come on in.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to create a strong, consistent online brand. From setting up or improving a website, to boosting your social media presence. You’ll find out how to improve your brand across your range of channels.


  • Explain the benefits of having an effective online brand
  • Design your online brand around your goals and audience
  • Identify the channels you’ll use
  • Create a list of features you’ll need to build your brand
  • Create a plan for improving your online channel presence

Read time:

14 mins

Chapter 1

Why create an online brand?

Read time:

2 mins

Why is online branding important?

Before you can begin to develop your brand, you need to understand the benefits.


Brands can help you:

  • Tell a clear and engaging story
  • Become recognisable to your target audience
  • Meet the goals of your business


Why create a brand online?


Of the UK’s population are online

Datareportal Opens in a new tab


Have bought products or services online

ONS Opens in a new tab


Of consumers use digital channels to shop

Mintel Opens in a new tab

This should give you an idea of how many potential customers you could reach by going online. You need a strong, appealing online brand.


Here are some more benefits of having a strong, appealing online brand:

Chapter 2

The right brand for your organisation

Read time:

2 mins

Let’s talk about objectives

Your brand is about more than just creating appealing designs. It’s a reflection of who you are as a business. Through your brand, your customers should be able to see your aims clearly. To do this, your brand needs to reflect your business objectives. Let’s start that process now.


If you don’t already have a set of business objectives, take some time now to write these. They should make it clear who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.

What makes you different?

One of the main ways you can create a strong brand from your objectives is by finding what makes you unique. This your unique selling point or ‘USP’.

Knowing yours can help separate you out from others in your sector. To make sure you have a USP, take some time now to look at your competitors.


Your competitors

Competitors can be those in your industry or even other local businesses. When you are thinking about your brand, you could also look wider. Think about organisations you admire or those whose key values reflect your own.

What do you like and dislike about their online channels? What do you do differently? For some of these things, you’ll want to learn from others and change the way you design. The other differences, the ones where you feel you have a strength they don’t have – that forms part of your USP. It’s the thing that makes someone come to you, instead of them.


If you haven’t already defined a USP, take a few minutes to craft one. Think about all the things we’ve covered so far. What makes what you do special?

If you already have a USP, then it’s time to start thinking about how you can apply it to your online brand.

How will your customers know your USP when they visit you online? This might be through a well-designed logo or ‘tagline’. Maybe it’s a key message that’s always visible when people visit your website or social channels. It might be clear through your use of colour, specific images or tone of voice in your posts and online content.

We’ll explore some of these ideas later in this lesson. For now, let’s look at designing for your customers.

Chapter 3

Customer-focused design

Read time:

2 mins

Who are your customers?

You’ve looked at how your online brand needs to reflect your objectives and USP. Now let’s turn to your customers.

Thinking about what your customer wants is key to good brand design. If you design your online brand without thinking of your users, you might design something that doesn’t appeal to them. Or even worse - something they can’t access at all.

Personas are a good way to think about who your customers are. These are short profiles that describe each of the core types of people that use your services.


If you don’t already have a set of personas, now’s the time to create some. Refer to the following checklist to build these.

Your personas may include:

  • A picture to represent them
  • Name
  • Age
  • Location
  • A short biography of the person
  • How they like to interact with your services
  • The kind of products and services they might want or need
  • Anything else that might help you tailor your brand and services


These personas should represent your whole customer base in some way. You can create them based on your actual customers if you want. Ultimately, they should reflect the type of people you want to attract.


See yourself as a customer

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about websites you don’t like, and why. How easy is it to find or identify the companies you like most online? Does the bookshop in your high street have a digital presence? When you search for your own organisation online, what results do you see? Is this what you want your customers to see?


Take time to look at your personas and answer the question: what do you have to offer each of these customer personas?

Now revisit your unique selling point. Does it capture what you’ve just noted? Have you found something else - or better - that defines what you offer that others don’t?

Chapter 4

Where will your brand appear?

Read time:

2 mins

Selecting online channels

This isn’t just a case of setting up a website and every possible social media channel out there. You need to think carefully about how you’re going to manage them. You also need to think about the purpose and benefit of each.

If you select more than one channel, you’ll need to make sure your brand is consistent across all of them. People should be able to move from one to another smoothly and easily.


Let’s look at the potential channels for you

Your website

Social channels

Sales channels


Your website

This is often the first digital channel most people think of. Before you build a website, think about what this involves. Do your customers actually expect a website? Check the personas you created earlier – do they access the internet from PCs or laptops? If they mainly use smartphones, they might prefer a mobile app.

Also think if you have the time and the skills to manage it. Maybe you could afford for someone else to do this. There’s lots of features you need to consider.


You’ll need to think about how to:

  1. Design the site
  2. Monitor it
  3. Drive people to it
  4. Keep it safe
  5. Sell your products on it

We have lots of modules to help you, on our Learn for business page.


Social channels

Social channels are great for creating a sense of community. They can help you build better relationships with your customers. But there are so many out there - it can be hard to pick the right ones for you.

To help you, think about your goals and personas. Do you want to tempt people with images of your products using Instagram? Is it more important to sell and reach a wide audience through Facebook? Would sharing videos with your customers through YouTube or TikTok match your goals?

Again, we have lots of social media modules to help you select on our Learn for business page.


Sales channels

There are lots of channels like eBay, Amazon Marketplace and Etsy, where you can sell to your customers. You might do this through your website shop. Sales channels can also be a good way to reach a wider audience with your products.



Email is a very direct market tool. It’s a way to go to your customer instead of them coming to you.

You do need to be aware of the rules around contacting your customers in this way. For example, General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Be sure to research the rules about any form of direct contact with your customer before you start.

Chapter 5

Brand elements and guidelines

Read time:

4 mins

The elements of an online brand

It’s now time to look at how to start putting your brand together.

We’ll begin by looking at the specific parts that make up your online brand.


What makes up an online brand?

  • Logos should be a unique reflection of your business. To create a strong logo, think about what you want it to represent. It may help to think about whose logo stands out to you and why.

    When you're looking at logos, check out both the website and mobile app versions. See how sometimes these are different, as people view the app on a smaller screen. This is good to bear in mind as you'll want people to recognise your logo instantly, whichever channel or device they use.

  • Which colours or colour schemes jump out to you? You might already have a feel for the colours you want to use. Maybe you're not sure about the colours but you know what kind of tone you want to strike. Web or graphic designers can help you pick colours to match the tone of your site. So if you're using a designer, speak with them and get their advice.

    Colours mean different things to different people. Be aware of cultural differences in terms of the meaning and effect of certain colours, especially if your brand is international. Look at large brands to see the colours they use, and the effect they have on you as a consumer.

  • Typefaces and fonts can say a lot about your business. If you're a law firm, you'll need text that looks professional. A toy store might want to reflect the fun of their products. Maybe you're a business aimed at helping people to relax through meditation - you'd want your typeface to suggest calm.

    Clean-looking typefaces (known as 'sans serif') like Arial and Calibri are easiest to read on a screen. They don't have the little 'flicks' at the start and end of the letters that serif fonts like Times New Roman have. These little 'flicks' are great for reading on paper, but aren't so clear on a screen. Once you've decided on a typeface, consider the font - the different ways of showing that typeface. Bold and italic fonts can add emphasis, though italics can be harder to read on a screen.

  • Showing your brand through images can be really effective. But you need to be careful how you use these - and what you use.

    Photography and graphics should always be relevant to your brand, to your customers, and to your products or services. Adding a nice photograph just because you like it could simply confuse your audience. Check what your images look like on large PC screens and again on mobile devices. Blurred, squashed or stretched visuals can really put off customers - and give the impression that your organisation doesn't care about quality.

    Take care to have a consistent look and feel that your customers recognise straight away. Also, check the rules around image usage. You can't just copy and paste images from Google. Consider using stock images from sources such as Shutterstock, Adobe or Getty Images. If you're working with a design agency, they can do this for you.

  • When we think of branding, we often think of just colour schemes and logos. But our tone of voice - the words we use and the way we use them - is just as important.

    To get a feel for tone of voice, look at your bank's website. Now check out the website or social media page of an actor, sports personality or artist you like. Compare the feel of the two sites. Look at the words they use, the way they present themselves to you. Does this feel fun, instructional, friendly, formal? Now think about your own organisation's key values. You're aiming to reflect these in your tone of voice. So, you might show you're a caring business through a conversational approach that focuses on your customers' needs.

    Once you've got a feel for your tone of voice, make sure it's a consistent one. It's a good idea to check if your website, social channels and any offline content all match. Everything should feel joined up, no matter how your customers are interacting with you.

Assets and media

Now it’s time to think about what assets and media you’ll need. Spend your time and budget on the channels and communications methods you use to interact with your customers most. Work through them and create a list of some of the things you’ll need.

This will give you a really clear list of outputs you need to design either in-house or with a designer.

Also ask your designer to create a set of brand guidelines. Everyone in your organisation can use these, to keep your brand approach consistent and professional.


Assets you might need to create include:

  • email signatures
  • logos
  • icons
  • business cards
  • merchandise
  • social media profiles
  • flyers
  • online forms
  • receipts
  • newsletter templates
  • web page layouts

Chapter 6

Pulling everything together

Read time:

1 min

Steps to creating your online brand

We’ve looked at different aspects of your brand, and what to consider when designing it. Now let’s put that all into a step-by-step process.


Follow these steps to create your online brand:

  1. Be clear on the purpose of your brand
  2. Take time to understand your business objectives
  3. Develop personas that represent your customers
  4. Find your unique selling point and use it at every step
  5. Research great design and find what you like
  6. Select your channels wisely
  7. Create a list of assets and media you’ll need
  8. Approach your designer
  9. Create clear guidelines
  10. Review, test and refine


That last step...

Quality checking is something you’re likely to do with your products or services. You need to make sure that what you’re offering is right. And the same is true for your online brand.

So once you’ve started to gather assets and are putting these onto your website and social channels, test them out.

Review your brand as you develop it – and ask friends, family and a small group of customers to give their feedback too. Check different devices, different channels. Does your brand achieve the goals that you set out at the beginning? Does it work for your customers? If it doesn’t, consider building in their feedback until you have a brand that you – and your audience – are happy with.


Congratulations on working through your online brand! Check out our related learning modules to continue developing your online presence.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 20th February 2023.