Are you happy to read me; or, do you have a case of the Mondays? I know I got some people to smile with the Office Space reference. We maintain things of interest or necessity in long-term memory. Ingraining company-related sentiments into consumer minds is branding. Focus on building a brand is a cornerstone of marketing.
Think about it. As competitors struggle to best one another in all verticals, leveraging the 'next best' search engine optimization tactic, focusing on sought keywords and phrases, your brand can begin creating positive associations to your brand, 'owning' your name and related associations.
Remember a while back when Stephen Colbert asked his followers to make him the "Greatest Living American"? I saw another SEOmoz post today related to branding a group of people. The idea of marketing is to increase traffic to your brand, correct? Ideally, keywords related to goods and products would not mean (as) much if your brand received a healthy, regular flow of traffic, correct?
Think about it. If your brand is enjoying traffic and exposure and releases a new product or service, a smaller ad budget is warranted regarding 'ranking' for those terms; your brand is already 'ranking' with consumers. New and ongoing information may only need intense marketing through social media accounts, home pages, newsletters, blog posts, etc.
Rather than leverage immediate rankings (some brands, with great rankings in mind from the start, are getting mauled by Panda as of late), impress consumers with a solidly-built community. I know. The process takes longer; but, the company is in business to provide value rather than make money, right? We all need money; but, don't underestimate the perception of consumers. We observe the difference; and, we have plenty of options…
Pay-per-click management garners short-term exposure, allowing a brand to take presence in the SERPs while focusing on branding, raising awareness about the company, the site, executives, workers, philosophies, and so on. PPC can be the rental home of your marketing pursuits; but the never-ending process of branding (Don't allow for stale branding.) is how your business settles in a niche, making a home for itself along with a community of followers.
Joanna Lord wrote a post a while back on leveraging inbound marketing. There are great insights in the post regarding building a brand community with a variety of content. I celebrated the idea, making the connection between branding and online success:
I think a brand can't go wrong in making further connections with customers and strengthening current ones. In a time when there is so much competition in all verticals, branding helps consumers view your brand as unique, distinguishable from the competition. Talk about savings on marketing costs...'optimize' branding efforts, get browsers to come to you through brand-name searches and 'favorite bar' clicks, those are the kind of 'rankings' branding can get.
The time to start branding is was yesterday. Rather than going cuckoo for keywords and rankings, possibly collecting wrist slaps from the Panda, go cuckoo over your customers and building a lasting brand. I saw Rand Fishkin wearing this shirt in the latest White-Board Friday post. I want one; the message is loud and clear and relates to products, services, and branding...