The culmination of the football season is knocking at this weekend’s door.  Who’s going to win the big game!?  My personal excitement is feigned; I share sentiments with another ‘Googler.’  However, I do hope your consumers view your brand as a ‘giant’ in its industry and a ‘patriot’ regarding customer service and meeting mission statements.

While brands can spend a lot of time addressing online marketing and search engine optimization needs, it’s likely the pursuit of data-driven results, bumps in rankings, and links attached to ‘coveted’ words and phrases are creating a tunnel-vision-like perception.  The irony: while your brand keeps its eyes on the ‘prize,’ the ‘views’ of others may get neglected.  Don’t forget about consumers and associated perceptions.

I watched Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday segment on an associated topic earlier today, elucidating ironically-hidden factors related to online marketing success.  I say ironic because as referenced in the opening, with so many online options, tactics, and suggested tips, a brand could invest a lot of time considering how to improve elements of marketing while forgetting about overall brand perception.

Be Who You Say You Are

I used to be a teacher of English and writing.  One of the first things I learned regarding teacher-student relations is to be who you say you are; young kids are savvy and quickly ascertain contradiction and ‘deception.’  One point raised in the Whiteboard post was ensuring your brand can ‘deliver’ on marketing promises.  This is important to consider across the board, and holds true down to the tiniest minutiae of brand sentiments.  For instance, is marketing text and links structured to render what a browser likely desires or is it somewhat (mis)leading them to some sort of brand-serving landing page?  While facilitating ‘conversions’ is at the heart of online marketing, it’s important to gain trust.  While ‘link baiting’ may produce desired results, it’s likely building sentiments of mistrust with browsers.

Building Trust

I consider ‘branding’ to be the process of creating and solidifying associations to your brand.  What comprises a brand?  I think services, products, executives, employees, behaviors, logos, slogans, just about ANY ELEMENT directly (sometimes indirectly – read how misunderstandings between an established SEO and business partners may influence future perception of the former’s brand) associated to your brand is a reflection on the brand and perceived by immediate consumers and the public at large.

How to build trust:

-          Make your team transparent.  Make executives and team members visible from your Web site and marketing material.  Don’t hide behind company logos.  I think this is especially true regarding social media.  How many brands have generic, company logos as Twitter and Facebook accounts?  I understand, you want to expose your brand, but would a person (CEO, PR rep) build more trust regarding social accounts?

-          Internal news can help build trust.  Traditionally, press releases did this in the past, but in modern times, a brand could use ongoing blog posts (ironically, less corporate brands are blogging these days) to build ongoing trust and familiarity with immediate consumers and the public.

Balance

Of course, a brand must find a fine balance, especially online.  You could be the most trustworthy, genuine brand on the planet, but if the brand is not making online strides regarding social media fans, rankings associated to keywords, and producing linkable, informative copywriting, then it’s difficult to gain exposure, attracting enough attention to build a level of ‘trust.’  However, is it easier to make ongoing progress related to online marketing and search engine optimization or build trust?  I think both are slow, methodical processes, but while a claw on the wrist by a Panda may set your site back a few initiatives a reputation is a lot harder to ‘update.’

Thanks for reading