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Branding & Search - Part 1

Branding Intelligence and Search

For more and more of us each day search is the pathway to our experiences with brands and products. If as I believe, brand is ultimately defined by one’s experiences with the product, then the search engine results page is for many the first impression of your brand. Making search and brand even more salient is that this impression is coming at the opportune moment, when the consumer is actively engaged in discovery related to their goal, your product or your brand. Also, often overlooked in branding and search is that for many search is the user preferred media for brand discovery. At a recent SES Diane Rinaldo, Director of Retail Category at Yahoo! Search Marketing presented research that, "For teen fashionistas, search is more effective for learning about brands than any other measured source, including magazines and friends."

So I hope we can move past the argument that search has a place in branding. But is anybody looking at search to try and understand the latent needs of consumer to build brand? I haven’t seen this taking place too often. A recent situation I encountered was a large company looking to launch a new branded service product. They were building out the product around their ideas, the ideas of their agencies (note the plural) and focus research. This was a multi-million dollar plus initiative with jobs and contracts on the line.

Where was the search intelligence in all of this? Nowhere. It was easy to see looking at impression and click data on keywords associates with this market that consumers had no interest in this type product. Of course creating a market is even more difficult and riskier than creating a brand. In fact it’s darn near impossible unless, again, you are filling the latent needs of consumers. The example above is one of failure to use search from the onset. I hope and expect that more businesses will use search to discover latent consumer needs and develop products and brands based on this business intelligence.

So how do we get business to start thinking about search as THE best resource for business intelligence and brand performance? It a challenge because the best aspects of search are in direct opposite of traditional branding. Search works best because you can tailor you message to the market. Branding is “supposed” to be working when the whole world recognizes a consistent look. logo and tagline. You see, there are years of legacy that we have to deal with here.

At the end of the day the numbers can tell us a story that cannot be denied. Search can show:

• Consumer interest in products and brands
• Consumer’s latent needs
• Messaging consumers like
• Imagery consumers respond to
• Immediate recall
• Deferred awareness
• What consumers don’t like
• Season/Month/Week/Day/Time consumers are open to messaging

This is brand-marketing research. Best of all, the results are available in real-time and at a minimal expense.

Next up, I’ll look at how we can optimize a brand through search.

Come see me speak on Branding and Search at Search Engine Strategies, August 7th in San Jose.

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