The topics of brand management and search marketing are seldom seen making an appearance together. Many search agencies have no involvement with brand projects and vice versa. In the boardroom, the link between the two isn’t always considered and it’s not uncommon to have two different agencies brought in to accomplish both tasks separately.
One thing that the last ten years has taught us is that many aspects of online marketing have a distinct ability to fit together in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Using Adwords in combination with organic growth strategies for example, or a strong mailing list with a social media kicker can often be a good hand to play.
Traditional marketing and the comforting Mars bar
To draw from the world of traditional advertising, it’s very easy to look around any town and see household names from companies to brands to individual products and without realising it, find that you have a certain affinity for these brands, products etc.
It’s a lot easier to picture this if you imagine yourself arriving in a country that you’ve never been to before and finding some comfort in the brands you see around you that feel familiar. Seeing Cadbury’s Mini Rolls in a Spanish supermarket towards the end of a holiday in Malaga can really get your adrenaline pumping!
This isn’t a new concept, the idea of us attaching certain emotions to products has been a staple of modern marketing for years. Now that search is the high street of the 21st century, it brings up the question of how brand and search can work together in producing positive long term results.
Affinity and exposure
One of the ways that your affinity towards a brand is created is through simple, repeated exposure. If we see a product everywhere we turn, over time we become accustomed to its presence and it becomes a ‘normal’ part of life. On occasions where you require the product, your initial reaction is to think about the product that you’re now so familiar with.
Google has refined, redeveloped and fine-tuned its search engine and now presents a very strong, integrated system that allows a brand to appear in search results in more than one way. Search behaviour is no longer just typing a phrase into Google and seeing ten simple results. Far from it.
Brand recognition and remarketing
A practical example of how search and brand go hand in hand can be seen clearly by looking at the Google Adwords remarketing system in which adverts appear to ‘follow’ a user around on partner sites. Many of us notice this and if worked poorly by the advertiser can be frustrating. Not to mention the gestapo-esque way in which the ads know exactly what you were looking at a week ago whilst bored.
In this example, having searched the British Airways website a few hours earlier for transatlantic deals, I’m presented with the following advert as soon as I open Gumtree’s home page.
Unsurprisingly, I’m shown this ad that I will probably ignore. This time.
But with a strong brand, and repetition over time, chances are when I’m ready to really look into those transatlantic deals, I’ll probably first think of British Airways. Without a strong brand, this repetition wouldn’t work to create a sense of familiarity.
In this respect brand and search are working together to produce a positive result. What’s more, this process is occurring throughout my entire browsing experience, not just on individual websites. Google’s network will make sure that the BA advert is in my face when I’m doing an online grocery shop and when I’m watching a comical video involving cats.
Integration of devices, advanced tracking features and a focus on information provision means that the presence of brand strategy alongside search techniques is only going to become more essential.