What is a brand?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that a brand is a logo or even a particular product. A brand is so much more than that. Initially a brand was a sign of ownership, that’s my cow not yours type of thing. This sign of ownership then developed into a mark or guarantee of quality, wheedle out the bad wine and crack open the good stuff. This then developed further into a deep rooted sense of trust and even an emotional connection, slip on the Nike’s, hit the road and get empowered! I think that a brand should encapsulate all of these things. Here is an interesting quote I found:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product service or organisation”.
Whilst I agree with this quote I think that there is a little more to it in that a brand must have the quality of product/service to back itself up. I can have a good gut feeling about that bottle of Supersuds lemon washing up liquid I just bought. However, if when I come to use it the suds just aren’t that super then my trust is broken down and I’m probably not going to buy it again. This is why a brand is more than just a logo or nice design.
What can you brand?
Products/Companies: Coca-Cola, Apple, Ford, Virgin, Microsoft
Services: Virgin Trains, Zumba, Google search, American Express
People: Jamie Oliver, Lady GaGa, Seth Godin
Places: New York (Think I heart NY), Selfridges, Warwick Castle
Today I have already Googled the answer to a question and Skyped a colleague. At some point I also plan to hoover the floor. My colleague Joe will no doubt Photoshop some photos and Dan will (not if I can help it) sellotape some tacky Christmas decorations around our whiteboard.
“When people use your brand as a verb that is remarkable” Meg Whitman
These are all examples of brands which are regularly used as verbs and this is the holy grail of marketing.
Hang on, aren’t you an SEO agency?
I think we can safely say that the days of standalone SEO are over. Dan really illustrates this in his last blog post ‘Off page optimisation – an outdated strategy?’. The lines between SEO and social media, CRO, content marketing, e-mail marketing and PR are really starting to blur. Soon we will not know when one ends and another begins. The same goes for SEO and Branding. When we send out reports to our customers at the end of every month we now include data on their brand traffic. Why? Well, if Google disappeared off the face of the planet in 2 years’ time you will want your business to still be standing. You would hope that you have built your brand awareness enough so that you still generate direct traffic and brand searches. The problem (or positive depending on how you look at it) is that it is a long play.
We are starting to speak to our clients much more about long term online brand development as opposed to focusing only on rankings and traffic. The great thing is that if you spend time developing your brand you should see a positive impact on your rankings and traffic. Business owners who are brand focused will have fantastic and engaging content on their site; they will get people organically talking about their awesome products/services (not only talking but linking too) and they will keep their customers coming back for more. Ticks all the basic SEO boxes really doesn’t it; quality content, social sharing, links, good engagement stats and high visitor return rate.
Another thing to consider is the emotional aspect (or ‘gut feeling’ as we described it earlier).
“People do not make buying decisions based on impersonal facts. They rely upon their perspective and how they think, interpret or believe circumstances to be. They add “emotional spin” to the data based on their gut feeling and mood, which significantly alters and affects your SEO efforts.” Trond Lynbo – Search Engine Land
Imagine I’m running an SEO campaign for a website that sells shoes called (rather unimaginatively) Shoe Stop. I’m all over the SERP’s for some of the top terms. Joe Bloggs searches for ‘online shoe store’ and up pops Shoe Stop in position 1. He clicks through to the site www.best-shoe-stop.com and is faced with a design from the 1990’s, pixelated images, and logo that calls the company SS Shoes. His trust radar is going like the clappers and his gut feeling is probably that Shoe Stop needs to do exactly that…stop!
This is why branding and SEO are starting to become synonymous.
Fantastic SEO + Weak Brand = No sales (Go cry in the corner)
Fantastic SEO + Strong Brand = Sales (Hooray! Do a little dance)
Top Tip: Don’t have multiples of the same brands. Are you Shoe Stop, Best Shoe Stop or SS Shoes? If you aren’t able to make up your mind then neither will the search engines or your customers.
These are my thoughts…what do you think?