Build Yourself A Brand, Not Just A Website
Over the past few years, Google have been tightening and changing their algorithms making it a more challenging task to get websites ranking. Techniques that used to work are slowly becoming redundant in their current form and as always, quality is the key to success.
The mentality of what a website should be has drastically changed over the years and it is now more important than ever to build a brand, not just a website. Gone are the days where you could knock up a WordPress site in a couple of hours and have it generating stable rankings (that last) pretty quickly. A lot more needs to go into making the website a success.
In this post, I want to share with you some ideas that you need to be aware of in order to get your brand underway in the eyes of your customers as well as the search engines.
If you are a brand, then you should own the various tlds and permutations that are relevant to your business. The last thing you want is for one of these domains to be registered by someone else who sets up a website posing to be you. If you have your brand trademarked then you can get this stopped but it still takes time and in that time, damage could already have been done.
A couple of years back I went to a conference were the Marketing Manager for ghd was speaking. He was sharing stats on the number of websites their legal teams take down each year who are infringing their trademark and selling counterfeit goods!
This is not a situation you want to be in. You will never be able to register ever permutation of your brand name but securing the most obvious ones is a good place to start.
Your brand is one of the most important assets and therefore, it is important that you look into trademarking to protect it moving forwards. It can be a costly exercise, especially if you are not 100% comfortable with the process so I would recommend enlisting the help of a trademarking expert who can guide you through the process smoothly.
If you are looking to scale your business, you need to consider your brand architecture and whether you want to retain the same brand name across every product or service. There are three ways that you could look at this and I have pulled on three major brands to demonstrate them.
First up we have Virgin. They have taken the ‘One name fits all approach’. When ever they launch a new product or service their brand name is clearly attached to it making it very easy for customers to know they are behind it. If you decide to take this approach you need to ensure that your logo will work visually across all products or services.
Coca Cola have a very different approach. They own so many different brands offering different things to different audiences that they decided not to include their brand name at the forefront of every product. I like to call this the ‘Unrelated brand approach’. If your individual products or services are strong enough to stand alone without the backing of your brand then this approach could work for you. When you look at the various products that Coca Cola own, their brand name isn’t featured anywhere on the packaging.
Finally, we have Nestle who use the ‘Family of brands approach’. They have a large variety of brands but they all link back to the main brand with the logo or company name on the packaging. The logo isn’t always highly visible but it is always mentioned somewhere on the product which helps give new products the credibility and backing from the core Nestle brand.
Having a blog on your website should be one of the top priorities for all brands. The bog should be updated regularly and I would recommend aiming for once a day if you can. The content that gets added needs to be unique, relevant and most of all it needs to be interesting so that visitors to the site share it.
At Koozai, we ask all employees to post once a month on our company blog which enables us to have fresh content going live every day. This works really well as rather than having one voice for the company blog, we have multiple making it much easier to keep it updated.
If you are unsure of the type of content to post on your site, you can always refer to the Search Queries report in your Google Webmaster Tools account. Download the data into a spreadsheet and filter by keywords containing ‘What, Where, Who, Why and When’ so that you can see the types of questions visitors to your site are asking to reach your site. You can then address these questions as content on your blog.
Regardless of whether you will use them or not, it is important that you claim all social media profiles to avoid someone else registering them. Using a service like Knowem takes the hassle away from you and you can have at least 300 profiles registered in a matter of days.
Once you have them registered, review the spreadsheet of accounts that Knowem provide you with and look at which platforms would be relevant for your business or market. Of course, there are the top social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and Pinterest which you should always look to use but there could also be others that you are not aware of that your target audience are using.
There should be someone in your organisation in charge of managing your social media presence. I would not recommend sharing this around the company. In addition, you should have clear laid out guidelines for the individual managing the accounts to follow. They need to know:
- the tone of voice you want used
- what should and shouldn’t be said
- when to escalate potential issues
- your policy on linking out
- whether to engage with competitors
Depending on your industry, you may wish to encourage your all your team to use the main social media platforms to engage with customers, potential customers and others in your industry.
Using your team will give you a much wider reach when it comes to your social media engagement. If we look back to the recommendation of having a company blog, if each team member is writing for you they can also share the content with their followers giving you a much wider reach than you would have if you only used your company social media accounts.
Brands take various approaches to their teams using social media. Some will allow their employees to use their own personal social media accounts where as others will create dedicated company social media accounts for their team.
For example, at Koozai every member of the team has a branded Twitter account where the naming structure looks like @Koozai_Name. We also have company photographs taken so there is consistency across each team member’s profiles.
It is down to you and your brand to decide how you want social media to be used inside the company. The main thing to remember is that whatever you decide, it is advisable to create an internal social media policy so your team know what is expected of them.
I have spoken to a number of company that don’t see the importance of bidding on their brand name on Google. It is important for a number of reasons:
1) It is not against AdWords policies to bid on someone elses brand name meaning that your competitors could appear above you in the search listings for your own brand. Check out this example where Marks and Spencers were not bidding on their own brand name
2) Different people search and click in different ways. Some will always click on the paid ad, some always on the organic listing and some on both. If you are in both prime positions it is more likely that you will get the click through to your website
3) This traffic is cheap and it yields a very high quality score in AdWords which can help boost the overall account performance. For the sake of a small budget, having a presence at the very top of the page is a no brainer for me.
4) Taking up two spots on the first page of Google reinforces the message that you are that brand.
Another great method to push your brand is to utilise the remarketing functionality within Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Once a visitor has landed on your website, you can capture their cookie information and follow them round the internet with your branded ads, subtly embedding your company name and message in their minds.
Using the Google AdWords platform you can create campaigns that only charge you if someone clicks on one of the ads. This means that your ads could generate thousands of impressions but unless someone clicks, you don’t pay a penny. This is a great way of getting exposure for your brand at very little cost.
In the final part of this post I want to look at the importance of monitoring your brand. Your brand generating business and revenue is the end goal but in order to keep that consistent you need to ensure that your customers are happy. This is where brand monitoring comes into play. There are many websites on the internet offering people a platform to voice and share their experiences of companies and unless you know what is being said about you, you don’t have all bases covered.
These are just a few examples of websites that you need to be considering when monitoring your brand online.
If you want to read more about brand monitoring, you can download a whitepaper on this very subject here.
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