How Brands Grow Online
The first thing to know about building your brand online is that you’re already doing it. Everything you do online contributes to how potential customers perceive you and think about you. There is no such thing as not branding yourself. There is only poor branding, and good or even great branding.
The good news is that no matter where you are in your online branding journey, you can start right now to build your brand in a positive and consistent way, to get your products and ideas out in front of audiences that need what you do.
Here’s some things to keep in mind at the outset:
Don’t expect success overnight. Plan for steady, long-term growth when building your brand online.
Do expect negative feedback on your online brand. Not everyone will love you, and that’s ok. You don’t need all the fish in the sea, just the ones ready to swim with you.
Finding Your Voice Online
Perhaps the most mystifying part of brand building is identifying and growing your unique voice online. You need a unique voice, a way to differentiate yourself from all the other noise online, but be wary.
You cannot fake your brand voice. Do not try to be young and trendy, if you don’t have young and trendy people working for you. Be true to yourself and what makes your company special, and you will win fans and influencers to your cause.
Choosing Channels to Build Your Brand Online
You have a multitude of channels available to you as you build your online brand, from Organic SEO and Display Advertising, to Content Marketing, Email Campaigns, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, and so much more.
Your task is to discover where your target audience gets their information and meet them where they are with messaging and offers that resonate on a consistent basis, no easy task!
A good starting point is to build a robust website, complete with thorough content describing your work and your impact. Reinforce your brand on your website with design elements, rich media, and opportunities to engage through email, social media, and more.
Then pick a few reliable channels, such as SEO, PPC, and the top Social Media channel for your industry, and dive in. Once you’re seeing positive returns with these fundamental online brand building channels, you can allocate additional spend to exploring other channels, such as email marketing, additional social media outlets, etc.
You will not be able to speak consistently and authentically to audiences across a dozen or more channels at once. Build your engagement out over time, adding outreach channels as you gain mastery and comfort with existing ones.
Style & Tone for Online Branding
It’s important that everyone who represents you online uses the same style and tone, the one that best represents your company and your voice. Find out what that style and tone is, and train everyone involved to consistently drive home the core messaging of your brand. Things to consider include your approach to humor, the level of detail you give out before a phone call, the core benefits of your products and services, etc.
Remember that potential customers must be able to continue a conversation with you across multiple channels, including social media, your website, emails and even phone calls. If your social media manager never talks to your sales team about why customers choose you over competitors, your sales team may not deliver on the expectations set by social, and social may not even know how to promote you.
Break down the silos so all departments can speak with one voice.
Your Core Value Statement
Your core value statement goes all the way back to your reason for existence. This is at the center of everything you do, and should be reinforced across all your channels and by every person representing your brand online.
You should be repeating your core value statement constantly, and internally. Everyone from the CEO to janitor should here your core value statement in memos, see it on the walls of your offices, and of course, recognize it online anywhere your brand is visible.
The Role of Content in Building Brands Online
Content takes many forms online, but the role is always the same. Content marketing is a platform for your brand voice. You connect with your audience through content marketing. Rest assured that if you don’t bother to connect with your audience through content marketing, some other company will.
Content marketing builds engagement around your brand, expands your audience, establishes your expertise, and more.
Commit to content marketing, and distribute your content throughout all your channels, and you’ll begin to see new audiences engaging with you, even sharing your content and building your brand for you, all across the web.
Give away your best content for free. No one can do what you do as well as you do anyway, so write with confidence, clarity and relevance. Then nurture your content from year to year and see your brand grow.
The Importance of Consistency in Online Brand Building
Once you have identified your voice, your core message, and your differentiating factor, you must consistently convey your brand across all channels at all times. You must reinforce your brand voice with fresh, relevant content, weighing in on developments in your industry from breaking news to new products and services. Remain in contact with potential audiences and markets, always ready to answer questions, reinforce key messaging, and build credibility.
You brand voice needs to be consistent throughout your customers’ journey, so that the copy in your PPC ads is reflected on your SEO Landing pages, and is then reinforced by your Lead Nurturing Emails and the eventual sales calls and post-sale service. Only once your existing customers can confirm the authenticity of your brand, and are able to echo your core messaging and even reflect your voice to others, will your brand have the consistency to resonate with the widest relevant audience.