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A great brand is the sum of all parts working together harmoniously to deliver something remarkable. PHOTO: Clem Onojeghuo

I never understood the importance of brand until I saw brand in action.

In many cases I believed having the best product and experience was enough and brand was just a name, something that came with a nice logo.

I was wrong.

A great brand represents an entire experience. It’s the sum of all parts working together harmoniously to deliver something remarkable.

You can have the greatest product in the world but ultimately it’s the associations we have with brands and what they represent that drives our commerce.

A great brand draws customers in and creates fanatics for your company and product — like GoPro and Red Bull, whose fans are a constant source of great YouTube videos. 

Building Your Brand Online

In today’s connected world, building a brand starts online. A number of companies have dedicated their existence to creating tools at your disposal with limitless growth opportunity, the internet is a ground zero for brand building.

Ultimately though, building your brand online comes down to a willingness to put in the effort without knowing the immediate outcome. 

I’ve been learning about building brands online since the dial-up days and I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to reach customers effectively. Here are some time-tested, and practical tips that will help you get started on growing your brand online.

1. Blog, Blog, Blog

Grow SEO and your company narrative by blogging consistently. Remember to build and rank your keyword universe using Google Search Console. Optimize blog titles, metadata and body content to build authority against your base and long-tail keywords.

2. Listen

Your customers are banks for great content ideas -- so listen to them! Survey them periodically using free or cheap SurveyMonkey software, to discover what best practices, customer examples, industry reviews and other helpful content they’d like to see from your company.

3. Nurture Leads and Contacts

It’s a lot cheaper to reactivate and retain 20 percent more of your existing leads than to increase new lead acquisition by 20%. Investigate tools that allow you to easily acquire and nurture leads, send personalized emails and messages, and take your customer on a helpful customer journey a la Quicken Loans.

4. Master Your #Social

Share content and engage regularly on social media. Use Buffer to queue up links to fresh content, and Hootsuite to monitor and act on your most popular posts. And always be willing to engage with your audience at opportune moments.  

5. Work with People

The key to any individual’s success is a great network. Ride the coattails of influencers, experts and partners with a strong following. When you mention them in a post, let them know and ask for their opinion (if they like it, they’ll probably share it.)

6. Acquire Paid Leads

This piece of advice is the lowest hanging fruit. Boost popular content on Facebook, retarget visitors with relevant ads based on their initial interest, and nurture subscribers into paying customers — for pennies on the dollar.

7. Talk to Media

The media loves data points. Earn media hits by doing relevant industry survey research. Get 1,000 responses for less than $2,000 by buying responses on SurveyMonkey or using a third-party vendor like Cint.com, then offering findings under embargo to land an op-ed. Increase reach by publishing on LinkedIn Pulse, Medium and your blogs.

8. Become Visually Fluent

Transform mind-numbing data into beautiful visual content. Infographics, annotated images, videos, visual e-books, and webinars are ideal content to gate, allowing you to build a contact list for ad retargeting, nurturing, and social media campaigns.

9. Stay Active

Engage with the latest tools and trends while growing a presence in the community. Be on the hunt for new forums, whether they are Quora, Slack channels or niche industry hangouts, and share a healthy mix of unbranded and branded links.

There is no straight and true path to growing an online brand, but adhering to a few industry best practices as those mentioned above can keep you on track for success.

And don’t forget, building a brand online takes time. Sure there have been some overnight, viral successes but for the other 99.99 percent it’s a game of patience and careful planning.

Always be on the lookout for ways to optimize and better your strategy. And who knows — maybe videos of people jumping from helicopters and surfing bonsai is your brand’s sweet spot. Or maybe, it’s just a well timed email.