The Power Of Branding For Small Business, Part One

More and more I’m discovering the necessity of helping our customers brand themselves in the search sphere. In the past, we often felt that some clients just didn’t need to be branded in the search results. Maybe because they were smaller clients or didn’t have a nationally recognized name. But then how do companies become nationally recognized names? You got it. Branding.

Branding isn’t just for big companies any more. With the internet and search, it’s become easier and cheaper to for companies to brand their names in front of their target audience. It’s true that good branding efforts will always cost you some time, energy and even a little bit of money, but it’s not out of reach of small businesses with little extra cash on hand for what is traditionally considered a non-sales generating marketing strategy.

The benefits of branding your web site

A solid branding strategy is important for any small business and should be a part of its online marketing efforts. So let’s talk first about some of the benefits of branding your website. If you’re like most small businesses you’re more concerned about selling products or services than you are in establishing a name for yourself. Why go through the effort? Simply put, branding helps sales.

Let’s look at this in the smallest of cases. Say you create name recognition for your company with a single person. That’s right, one person knows your company and you’ve convinced them to trust you and the products or services you sell. Big deal, right? Well, it is.

This one person will choose to buy from you rather than your competitor. Your ability to brand your name, and make it synonymous with your quality, has just earned you a sale. But one sale? Big deal!

Well, yeah, it is. Because that one person may tell one other person. The trust you earned by one has just multiplied into two. You just got another sale. Another big deal? OK, by now you’re getting it. Branding is a big deal.

Let’s look at this from anther angle. What is the effect of branding on an unknown audience? The most effective branding is not in the number of people you reach, but in the number of times you’re able to reach any single person with your brand.

Let’s say you want to buy an Easy Button. (Yes, I have one!) Assume that want one but you don’t know who sells them or where to go to get one. Where do you turn? Your favorite search engine of course.

Do a search for easy button and you see a list of results from sites such as Staples, TechEBlog, Amazon and even Wikipedia. But one company stands out in all those results: Staples. I now correlate the easy button with Staples.

As my easy button would say, “that was easy.” Perhaps a bit too easy, though.

Let’s take another example. This time, search for DVD. In this search I see results for Netflix, Amazon, DVD Empire, Deep Discount DVD, Barnes and Noble and others. Note that I’m not just looking at natural results, but paid results also.

Of course, DVD is a broad query so I narrow it to DVD movies. Huh! Some of these results look familiar. Again I see Amazon, Netflix, DVD Empire along with some new results such as CD Universe, and Columbia House.

If I don’t like full price DVDs, I search cheap DVDs. Here again I see DVD Empire, Deep Discount DVD, Amazon, Columbia House.

Do you see what happened there? In three searches stood out due to their brand recognition. Each search produced different results, but some sites receive broader branding power because they came up in more than just one of my searches. Now, without even searching, I have a mental idea of where I can go to buy DVDs: Amazon, Columbia House, DVD Empire and Deep Discount, because they showed up the most in each of my searches. Next time I want a DVD, I might just go directly to one of those sites without even searching.

The branding strategies employed by small business will be similar to what we saw here. But you don’t have to go after highly competitive keyword phrases to get similar branding power. In my follow up next week, I’ll provide details on how small businesses can brand themselves for little or no money.

Stoney deGeyter is CEO of Pole Position Marketing. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Search Marketing: Branding | Small Is Beautiful


About The Author: is president of Pole Position Marketing, a leading online marketing strategy company established in 1998 and currently based in Canton, Ohio.

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  • Anthony Kuhn


    Thank you for your post on how to optimize branding efforts on the web for small businesses. I’m already looking forward to your post on how to stretch keyword dollars in your upcoming follow-up post to this piece. As this topic is right on target for my audience, I cross-posted on your piece, along with some comments, to
    The Innovators Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing technology to startups, small businesses, non-profits, venture capitalists and intellectual property experts. Please visit us and help grown our community!

    Best wishes for continued success,

    Anthony Kuhn
    Innovators Network

  • Online PR

    I’m rolling out the online rebrand for a big online business for ppc and seo ‘channels’ and in my experience brand is reassuring, but it cant replace a decent tag line and solid set of ‘reassurance cues’ that a big brand isnt necessarily going to give if they soley rely on their ‘good name’

    In respect to smaller brands, I have found that since internet is fundamentally about utility, value and often a good name is built from simple things like user testamonials (ebay is a great example) or any number of comparison shoppping with with sufficient numbers of trustyed reviews.

    The catch is that to build a big brand in the traditional sense genrally takes lots of resource. and the customer ultimately has to pay for that resource, hence there is often far less value for a ‘trusted branded product or service’ then from some random (but trusted company working out of a big shed in some low rent industrial estate offering great value.

  • Joe Duck

    Wow, you lost me at “easy button” which I see as a silly big brand campaign rather than a sales tactic for the buttons.

    I’d suggest that small business branding is almost always a waste of time and money. Unlike big biz where potential customers are a significant percentage o the total population, small businesses would do best to work for highly targeted placement of highly relevant content and ads more than trying to get people to recognize their name or logo.


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