Digital Branding for Interior Designers

Interior designers need a structured business plan to establish and grow their business online.

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By Marilisa Barbieri

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Before 2020, maintaining a design business without an online presence wasn't an easy task. With the pandemic, we've realized it's impossible to grow without an organized approach to digital branding.

With the right strategy, digital branding can help you build your credibility and authority as an interior designer and capture new opportunities accelerated with the "year of digital décor".

But how have interior design services changed, and what are the new business opportunities?

1. New types of interactions and collaborations have been unfolding.

An influx of projects, including international work, meetings with clients far away and a remote team demand new types of interactions, tools and technology. As a result, designers have forged new ways to communicate and do business.

Collaborations with the home décor have also been unfolding during the pandemic and they are here to stay. Together with furniture retailers, "designers influencers" launch collections of furniture, tabletop items and home décor.

Related: Why Branding is Even More Relevant To Businesses Today?

2. Changes in what people want and need in their living space.

The pandemic reshaped the way people live, work, entertain, exercise, sleep and interact.

Private spaces are a high priority. Unused rooms are transformed into the most sought-after spaces: home offices and gyms.

Bold colors, patterns, textures and statement accents are frequent requests to make the living space livelier. The outdoor is now an extension of the living room, and the two sometimes become one unique setup.

Well-designed spaces can lead to a happier life, now more than ever, and the changes in what people want and need in their living demand the help of design experts.

Business Wire estimates that the global market for Interior Design Services will reach $255.4 billion by 2027, marking 7.8% growth over the period 2020-2027. Residential interior design services is projected to record 8.1%.

3. Virtual services and digital design packages

2020 has been called the year of "digital décor" because of the high demand for virtual interior design, or e-design. But, virtual design is not something new. It is a trend that started 5-6 years ago and has recently accelerated.

Many homeowners invest their time in transforming their homes. They look for guidance, without requesting an in-person experience. They are comfortable with Zoom meetings and calls. With virtual consultations in high demand comes the need to build and promote digital design packages.

As a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to in-person consultations, selling design packages is an opportunity to capture new customer segments.

Related: Why Branding and Reputation Are Essential for Fearless Leaders

4. New markets and customers

Someone who has never considered hiring an interior designer before may now be willing to invest and buy a decoration package" or "renovation package.

Even if the lead generation for interior designers has been word-of-mouth for a long time, now with a strong online presence, they can reach clients they didn't even expect. You tap into a whole new market and turn them into paying customers.

5. Ad-hoc online infrastructure and digital assets

One of the biggest challenges is knowing where to start and which step to take first. The learning curve is there, but it's worth your time if you are serious about your business growth.

You might be a startup design firm that needs a clear roadmap and path to follow to establish a presence online. Or, you might be an established design firm with a digital marketing plan that generates no results and needs to assess performance and replace what doesn't work.

In both cases, you will benefit from activities as discovering, planning and strategizing before jumping into building a website or creating social media profiles.

The five steps to building a strong digital brand

In a workshop I conducted for the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, I illustrated the sequence of steps to follow to get digital branding right.

1. Discover brand vision, identity and niche segment to target.

First, you need to clearly define your values and purpose for a good sense of direction. Getting clear about who you are as a brand, who you want your customers to be and your desired outcomes gives you the power of thriving in such a competitive market.

2. Set your product strategy and pricing strategy.

Creating your product roadmap and pricing strategy enables you to focus on a specific target market instead of being everything to everyone. For each product or service, make sure you assign a goal.

3. Define the sales funnel map.

You also need to identify the steps clients should take to discover you from initial awareness through conversion. Where does the traffic to your website come from? How are you going to collect information and put together an email list? Which design services do you offer? Are they customized to your customers and bring them value? How do you plan to transform your customer's lifestyle by decorating or renovating their homes?

4. Design and development of digital assets.

The fourth step of the flow is to design and develop your website. Web design is important because it shapes the perceptions of your visitors. Many businesses fail at digital branding because they start from here instead of investing time in planning.

5. Plan your traffic strategy.

Traffic strategy is an intentional plan to bring people to your website, discover your brand and values, share their contact information (emails) and convert them into customers. If you have done your homework then it should be easy to know where to find prospects online. You want to be present where your clients hang out and make your social media profiles channels of communication.

Related: Branding Strategies That Create Customers Who Spend 300% More

Marilisa Barbieri

Business Consultant, Luxury Brand Expert & Educator

A luxury-business expert with an MBA and interior design and arts degree, Marilisa Barbieri helps companies elevate their brand value and increase sales of design service by revealing proven sales strategies employed by top luxury brands.

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