Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Brand Awareness: The Real Purpose Of SEO

Brand Awareness
For those tasked with handling a company's online marketing, there is all too often an over-focus on gaining in search engine rankings. This of course, is a very important pillar of online marketing efforts, but there are larger gains to be made in terms of marketing an overall brand that digital marketing is a perfect avenue for. Value-wise these opportunities afford marketers a chance to see huge returns for small investments of human capital. By incorporating an entire branding strategy as a focus of online marketing efforts, managers can grow and cement market positions throughout a number of targeted demographics.

Branding: The Most Important Part of Marketing

Branding is intrinsic in the success of any product or business. It is the public face and creed of a product or service and can create lasting loyalties and positions in markets. Every product or service you have ever used has a narrative associated with that brand. From the timeless Americana of Wendy's burgers to the young, hip culture of Mountain Dew. Branding is the sculpting of a business image, and is done through print, radio, TV and internet ads, alongside newer social networking platforms. A well done branding campaign cements yourself in the consumer's mind easier, and also gives them a reason to choose your product over another. A great example of this is organic fruits and vegetables. Side-by-side they appear exactly the same as non-organic goods, yet they cost markedly more. However, it is the story associated with the organic produce that convinces the buyer to pay more for the organic items.

The biggest key to a successful branding campaign is to have a simple, concise message. The simpler the better, as to prevent any misinterpretations by the public at large. An easy self-assessment can usually help marketing managers find the best positioning of the brand. Begin by asking yourself about what a customer would want when shopping for your service or product. What integral factors would a consumer most focus on when assessing a company in your niche from a distance? By brainstorming answers to this question you will give yourself a foundation upon which to build your branding strategy.

The Billboard in the Woods

Anyone with any experience in SEO has dealt with clients who wouldn't make aesthetic changes to a site to help their rankings. Often saying their site design is beautiful and any changes to it would hurt their business. Despite typically having no empirical evidence on hand to advance this claim, this inherent belief is almost impossible overcome with clients. This is the equivalent of putting up the most ornate, informational billboard in the world, in the middle of a dense forest. Despite being a wonderfully crafted item it is doing a business no good for no one is there to see it. A visual "if a tree falls..." if you will.

This is a trap to avoid with your branding, make sure people know this is the image you are looking to set forth. Once your management team has agreed on a branding strategy the next step in the process is to ensure that this image permeates every communique the company creates. In doing so you create a solidarity with the consumer and your marketing platforms. By having this simple similarity throughout marketing platforms you increase your brand awareness which in turn increases the retention rates of your ad campaigns in general. This connection is the key to making large gains through a marketing campaign.

Branding Through the Web

Many avenues with high-volume reach are very expensive in comparison to the possibilities of a well-thought online branding campaign. Even better, an online campaign carries with it the benefits of demographic targeting. Thus more of your ad dollars go towards the demographics you prefer. Couple this with the ability to fit online platforms to your branding strategy and the gains here by far have the highest ROI.

Sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (among others) all allow for the personalization of the company's page/channel/board to varying degrees. Take advantage of this personalization and use it to advance your brand strategy. Timeline photos on Facebook, fitting skins for Youtube Channels, careful attention to Pinterest images, and intelligent use of trending hashtags are all places to start with advancing your brand and thus awareness. If done correctly, these simple branding techniques can even act as linkbait and thus improve search engine rankings passively. Also, the content of your actual posts and messages also reinforces a brand strategy as well. By displaying different affiliations and actions related with the brand, a marketer solidifies the association of their product and a particular avenue of society.

Branding Power

Almost all companies recognize that they need an empowered image or brand message to help stand apart from the cacophony of competitors in their industry. To do so it requires consistency and a simple, strong message. To help sustain this consistency, the brand strategy must be implemented across all online channels and platforms. By taking advantage of the personalization of a page/channel and controlling the messages you put out to conform with an overall branding strategy you can expect to see great retention levels, staying power, and stand out from the competition even better. All because you have stayed on message with your consumer base.

About The Author: Thomas Farley is the CMO of a Dumpster Rental Company, he has been helping to implement large-scale branding strategies for over five years in various industries. You can follow him on twitter @nerf_mittens.

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