What’s a Brand and Why is It So Important?
Subtle exaggeration maybe, but let’s look at the premise for such a statement. Wikipedia says brand is “…all the expectations associated with a product or service. People engage in branding to align expectations, creating the impression certain qualities or characteristics make it special or unique. A brand is therefore one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme, as it demonstrates what the brand owner is able to offer in the marketplace.”
According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “The Internet is fast becoming a cesspool where false information thrives.” He continues, “brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted.” He also shared Google is looking at brand metrics as a means for determining search quality saying, “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.” Aaron Wall, SEOBook.com, suggests search engines have become sophisticated enough to see through the cesspool. He says, “Search engines only trust us if others trust us too. Search engines follow people.”
Ultimately, there is a much broader approach to the comparison of our content than just links… and that’s good for small to medium sized business. Placed simply, you must differentiate your value proposition and convey trust on the Internet because human interaction with your content counts… AND is measured 😉
We’d add that with marketing online, if you manage it correctly, your brand can be sustainable for the long term!
Can I Use Social Networks to Build Brand?
Lots of folks feel creating a presence through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & other social networks is what they need in order to establish brand. Probably wrong! You can only truly develop brand by creating something that’s your own. In fact, when you’re in a free environment or one that is someone else’s [brand] your brand is secondary.
Says CopyBlogger, “For me, there’s really no appeal in spending a lot of time creating “user-generated” content via a social networking application. That’s like remodeling the kitchen in a house you rent.”
While you can demonstrate accomplishments or list products and services in a social network environment, know that you won’t be completely differentiated. You won’t establish independent positioning for a target marketplace; however and to counter these points, social network environments are very valuable. They’re potentially large new audiences and any visibility can bring good things. We certainly recommend pushing your blogs’ content into the social networks. With RSS, it can be automated eliminating any duplicate effort. In fact, we’ve been doing this successfully ourselves to the tune of a 1st months spike in total traffic of 35%. Obviously, participation beyond this is important to be successful in social environments, but the point here is more about getting your brand out! to places where people are spending time.
So, Can a Blog Establish My Brand?
Online, we feel blogs … or better yet content … are the premiere tool for helping you to establish [your] brand! By enabling you to publish good content at will, you can demonstrate knowledge and an enthusiasm for your craft. Simultaneously, there can be the creation of trust. Blogs let you tell a story over and over again, allowing prospects to become familiar and comfortable with you. It’s something a website won’t do because, generally, they’re static and impersonal.
According to Internet Guru Dave Taylor, “Blogs have proven to be a terrific tool to help drive traffic to your website and to build your brand. You can take advantage of this tool [your blog] to differentiate yourself in the crowded online, and offline, marketplace.
So far as your target marketplace is concerned, some things you should consider with your blog include:
- Is my blog site easy to navigate?
- Is my blog domain unique enough to be memorable?
- Does my blog design convey my brand?
- Is my brand synonymous with my product or service?
- Is my written coverage worthy of trust?
- Am I worthy of conversation?
- Am I worthy of voluntary direct subscription?
- Am I worthy of leads?
How Do I Establish Brand with My Blog?
At least, you’ve got to make a disciplined commitment to write with your Blog. You should always work to convey your brand. Propagating branded content into social network environments will broaden your brand’s reach.
Building brand takes some persistence: passion for it will only enhance that effort. Sure, there are techniques that lend themselves to immediate findability, but learning curve can be minimized with better blogging practices education. At a minimum, provide consistent on-topic coverage that is truly useful to your target marketplace. You can be assured, they are [re]searching related key words & phrases each and every day! If not yet, they will eventually discover the convenience of permission based marketing/ subscription to your blog.
One client, a Hinsdale IL Real Estate Agent, established high ranking position for the most sought after topic phrases in his local marketplace. His search visability not only generates traffic, but a trusted network of direct subscribers. Recently he shared that his Hinsdale IL Real Estate blog subscription numbers are in the thousands. Subscription means he remains on radar screens, regardless of whether or not those prospects continue to search. It’s likely some will link or recommend him to others… and on and on the networked web carries his brand!
Connor MacIvor, an impassioned Los Angeles Real Estate & Community Blogger, shared that in his 1st 90 days, “… we actually have 15 new clients, 10 relocations from other states. In each case, they volunteered that they had found us on the web and that they read our Blog. I’m convinced our commitment to sharing lots of good local information via the blog allows for people to find us and develop a comfort level and more importantly to see if we would mesh with their personality type.”
Not only have they established findability and new business, they’ve become trusted sources for local real estate trade media. It equates to having established brand. And remember that while theirs are local small to medium sized businesses, they still compete with large brands for visibility.
Seth Godin says that you need to be remarkable, but this shouldn’t scare anyone because one person’s remarkable isn’t necessarily anothers’. We like to say you should share what you see, hear, know and have to offer – minimum twice per week. Knowledge and a sincere enthusiasm for any topic has proven appeal!
- All about them. People care most about things that affect them. In order to reach them, you need to communicate in a way that tells them ‘what’s in it for me?'”
- Hearts then minds. People make decisions based on emotions and justify their decisions with the facts. To get someone to pay attention, you must get them emotionally.
- Make it simple. Today’s world is a busy, confusing place. To make an impression and an impact, your message must be succinct and digestible.
- Make it quick. Enough said.
- Make it yours. A message is truly powerful only if it is associated with you or your product. Make sure that the message you’re presenting belongs only to you and you alone.
- All five senses. Conversations involve all of the human senses. To communicate effectively, make sure you’re engaging as many of your audience’s senses as possible.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Your message must be repeated often enough that your audience can act on it. Ironically, this doesn’t give you license to be repetitive, but demands new and creative ways to reinforce your position.
Can You Summarize the Benefits of Branding with My Own Blog?
In summary, the benefits of your Branded Advertorial Business Blog?
- Inexpensive… to cheap marketing & advertising
- Unlimited Search Engine Findability
- Unlimited Voluntary Direct Subscription
- Establish Differentiation & Unique Value
- Establish Trust & Good will
- Establish Personal Network
- Establish Brand!
- New Business
PS: we help clients build sustainable online brands!