What Is Your Brand Identity and Why Does It Matter to SEO?

Ideas written on Post-it notes pinned to a board.

Businesses sometimes happen before brands do. However, your brand can have a big impact on the customer experience you provide and even, potentially, your performance in the search results.

Has your business developed a brand identity? How do you figure out what your brand is? Let’s discuss some ways you can use research to help you discover what your brand is, then how you can communicate that through content, your website, visuals, and interactions with the community.

What Is a Brand?

Your brand is your company’s identity and what your customers and community can expect from how you interact with them and the service/products you provide. A business is an operation; a brand is a more intangible aspect.

When you define your company’s brand identity, it adds order to a somewhat chaotic and intangible thing. It details guidelines for how it will handle every situation, every customer, every staff member, every communication, and every message – even down to your web content.

Brand identity also includes the visual representation of your company, such as the logo, the look and feel of the website, how marketing materials are designed, and the kinds of graphics/imagery you choose to display.

When brand guidelines are in place, business decisions should be made within that framework. You are able to always revert to them and ask: Is this upholding our brand? If the answer is no, you ditch it.

What Does Branding Have to Do with SEO?

When you think about the most successful businesses, who comes to mind? Companies like Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s succeed because they all have a memorable brand. Successful brands create unforgettable user experiences across all channels. And a website is no exception.

With a strong brand identity, you will have guidelines on how to create an authoritative website filled with quality content that creates a good experience for your website visitors.

A strong brand will also garner trust. How people feel and talk about your brand online could be a trust signal to Google, which can translate to higher rankings and more clicks. Remember that Google wants to reward sites that demonstrate experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust, among other things.

One study from Clutch showed that 26% of people said a familiar brand was also a reason for clicking on search ads. This serves as a glimpse into how some people navigate the search results.

Think about it: If you scanned the search results on Page 1 and saw a familiar brand’s website, would you click on that result over another result, even if it wasn’t in position one? I have.

So how do you define your brand? Let’s look at that next.

4 Steps for Brand Research

1. Talk to Your Target Audience

You may think you know your company better than anyone. And while you may know your business inside and out, this doesn’t mean you understand your brand.

It’s not that you don’t know; it’s just that you cannot possibly be everywhere at once. The best way to get an outsider’s perspective and understand how your community feels about your company today is to ask them.

If you’re performing your own brand research, you’ll need to be discerning with your sample. A quick-and-dirty approach to research may not give you extremely accurate results, but the information you uncover can be invaluable. So try to be as objective as possible when choosing your audience.

First, identify all your possible audiences. They may include:

  • Current customers
  • Past customers
  • Vendors
  • Internal staff
  • Prospective customers
  • Colleagues in your industry
  • People in your social communities online (which could be a mix of all of those but their behavior and expectations might be different than an offline community)

You may want to segment these audiences by location, department or whatever other segmentation makes sense.

You might choose to pick people at random exclusively, or you might add in people who have had a great experience with your company and those who’ve had a bad experience as well. You want to understand all points of view about your brand.

Next, you’ll need to develop an understanding of how these audiences feel about your brand by collecting as much data and information as you can. Define the questions you want to ask, making these as objective as possible (no loaded questions that might sway their answers one way or another).

Here, you are looking for things like:

  • Perceived value of your products, services, and company.
  • What people know and believe about your company today.

In the end, it may be completely different than what you believe they think. Here are some ways you can gather data:

  • Online surveys: Use a simple survey via Survey Monkey only to ask the most relevant questions. People typically don’t want to answer a long, drawn-out survey, so make it as simple as you can for them. You can also run surveys on social media platforms.
  • Phone surveys: Get some people on the phone to ask your community the questions. You might get more responses this way. Again, make it brief as you can; respect their time.
  • Market research: Ask Your Target Market offers affordable market research options for businesses of all sizes. Define your target audience and get access to a database of people you can survey.

For SEO purposes, you could even survey your prospective customers on what queries they might use to find your products or services.

2. Analyze Your Competitors

You’ve probably heard of the SWOT analysis. It’s a traditional marketing diagram that helps you get a picture of the competitive landscape and where you fit in. In the diagram, you explore a business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Diagram illustrating a SWOT analysis.
Example of a SWOT analysis diagram

You can use the SWOT to get a picture of your market competitors – those companies that you believe to be your competition in your space (prior to keyword research because your online competitors and market competitors tend to vary).

In this research, you can begin to note what your differentiators are from your competition. During this exercise, you’ll also want to note things your competitors are doing with their branding like:

  • Imagery
  • Messaging
  • Content

Next, you’ll look at your online competitors. Your online competitors are any websites that are competing for attention in the search results.

Assuming you already have a keyword set for your website, your online competitors are on Page 1 of the search results for the queries you are competing for.

Look at those companies that are ranked for the keywords you are trying to target (using the right SEO tools for the job).

Probably the most revealing part of this is what you can learn from looking at your online competitors and the quality of their sites. You might identify quick wins for your site in the search results over your competitors.

So this is your opportunity to spy on how they’ve optimized their site, their link profile, the quality of their content, the user experience, and so on. And then ask, how can we do better on our site?

For SEO purposes, this step can be handy when you are crafting your SEO content strategy.

3. Find Brand Role Models

What companies do you admire? (Those companies that you feel are doing a great job.)  Write those down. These are your brand role models. These are the brands you aspire to be.

Maybe not just like them, but there will be attributes you love and want to emulate. Think about not just where your brand is now, but what you want it to be three, five, or ten years down the road.

Look at those brand role models and explore what they’re doing great. Also, look at what they aren’t doing so great and where you can differentiate from them. Because there are always differentiators, and this is where your brand shines.

4. Look at Key Messages, Colors, Visuals, Values

What words come to mind when you think about your company, its people, the way it interacts with the community, the products and services? Write all of these down.

In fact, you’ll want to have these written down before you see the research that has been performed with your community so your perspective isn’t skewed.

These are the things you believe your company stands for – your brand values. Every company has them; it’s what the company was founded on and the things it’s become.

And although it might be a while since anyone thought about what the company stands for, dig deep. It’s there. (And it’s not just to exist for profit!)

Now look at the visual and communicative elements of your company — are they streamlined or is there a mishmash of disjointed ideas?

Check out:

  • The language you use in your marketing and website (tone, key messaging)
  • The colors you use
  • The images you use
  • The fonts you use
  • Your logo

Now look at each element in that list I just mentioned:

  • Do you feel strongly about them as part of your brand identity?
  • What can go and what should stay?

If you’re not sure what messages and visuals represent your brand, start gathering those. Using both online and offline sources, collect any words, messages, videos, and pictures that are an abstract representation of your brand.

You can use a physical wall in your office space and dedicate it to all the stuff you’ve gathered, or you can use something like the secret boards in Pinterest, where you can invite others in your company to pin it as they come across items.

Next: Gather Common Themes

Once you’ve gathered all the data, start exploring common themes such as the messages your target audience has repeated on more than one occasion.

The negative stuff you uncover should be turned into an opportunity to look inside at your internal processes and find ways to improve. Your community has that perception for a reason. Explore the causes and create an initiative to address that with.

The positive feedback may serve as a foundation for key messages about your brand identity. If people continuously see your company as warm and friendly, then that must be one of the things your brand stands for.

Whatever the common themes are, group the findings together so you have a point of discussion about where the brand is today, and where you want to take it tomorrow.

Finally: Communicate Your Brand Identity

Now it’s time to write down your brand identity. Companies typically do this by creating a brand standards document.

This document gives you the basis for what you do company-wide, from the way your customer service department talks to people on the phone or in social communities online to the types of people you hire, to the key messages about your brand that you subtly weave into your content to the images you use.

Then comes the streamlining and planning. Your content strategy should be driven by your brand (which is shaped by your target audience).

Starting with the website and the baseline content you create to the ongoing content creation strategy for your business, your brand should be there. Every blog post, e-book, video, logo, and meta tag on a webpage should uphold your brand.

Final Thoughts

The branding of a company should be based on research, and the implementation of it should be top-down.

In order for a brand identity to shine through, the key is consistency. Set rules for when you will absolutely always default to the brand to make key (and sometimes difficult) decisions easier.

Ultimately, your brand identity will seep into every nook and cranny of your company and your marketing. So when you’re ready to start exploring your brand, know that at the end of it all, you might not just earn rankings, you may have an entire cultural shift.

We can help you identify your brand identity and craft an SEO-centric content approach that delivers better engagement, more traffic, and higher conversions. Contact us today to get started.

FAQ: How can my brand identity enhance my company’s online visibility?

The symbiotic connection between brand identity and online visibility can significantly impact your company’s success. Your brand identity is the cornerstone upon which your online presence is built. Well-defined brand identity encompasses your logo, color palette, unique value proposition, mission, and voice.

To maximize online visibility, start by ensuring consistency across all online platforms. Your brand elements should seamlessly transition from your website to social media profiles, evoking instant recognition. This harmonious coherence fosters familiarity, enhancing user engagement and prolonged browsing.

Engagement is key. Cultivate a narrative that resonates with your target audience, weaving your brand story into every piece of content you publish. Share authentic, relatable stories that humanize your brand, forging emotional connections with your online community. As these connections deepen, your audience becomes brand advocates, organically amplifying your online reach.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the bedrock of online visibility. Incorporate relevant keywords and phrases into your website content, meta descriptions, and alt tags. A strategic SEO approach ensures your brand appears at the forefront of search engine results, driving organic traffic and fostering credibility.

Utilize the power of visual content. Compelling images, videos, and infographics tailored to your brand identity capture attention and convey messages more effectively than text alone. These captivating visuals are shareable assets that can propel your brand across social media platforms, exponentially expanding your online footprint.

The nexus between brand identity and online visibility is a potent force in the digital realm. You can elevate your company’s visibility and resonance with your target audience by crafting a cohesive brand identity and strategically leveraging it across online channels. In an era where digital impressions matter, your brand identity is the linchpin of a captivating online presence.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Enhancing Online Visibility through Brand Identity

  1. Define Your Brand Identity: Clearly articulate your brand’s core values, mission, and unique selling proposition.
  2. Design Consistent Brand Elements: Develop a unified visual identity, including logo, color palette, typography, and imagery.
  3. Craft Compelling Brand Story: Create an authentic narrative that humanizes your brand and resonates with your target audience.
  4. Optimize for SEO: Conduct keyword research and integrate relevant keywords into website content, meta descriptions, and alt tags.
  5. Ensure Responsive Website Design: Design a mobile-friendly, user-centric website for seamless device browsing.
  6. Engage on Social Media: Establish a strong presence on relevant social media platforms and actively interact with followers.
  7. Create Shareable Visual Content: Develop visually appealing graphics, videos, and infographics that align with your brand identity.
  8. Implement Content Marketing Strategy: Regularly produce high-quality, valuable content that addresses your audience’s needs.
  9. Leverage Influencer Collaborations: Partner with influencers who align with your brand identity to expand your reach.
  10. Monitor Online Reputation: Keep track of online mentions and respond promptly to maintain a positive brand image.
  11. Embrace Email Marketing: Send targeted, personalized email campaigns that reflect your brand’s tone and offerings.
  12. Utilize Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Run targeted PPC ads to increase visibility and drive traffic to your website.
  13. Offer Value through Guest Blogging: Write guest posts for reputable websites to showcase your expertise and enhance visibility.
  14. Participate in Online Communities: Engage in forums, groups, and discussions related to your industry to establish authority.
  15. Optimize User Experience: Ensure easy navigation, fast load times, and intuitive design for a seamless user experience.
  16. Monitor Analytics: Regularly analyze website and social media metrics to refine your online strategies.
  17. Adapt and Evolve: Stay updated with industry trends and evolving online platforms to adjust your approach accordingly.
  18. Run Contests and Giveaways: Host online contests aligned with your brand identity to increase engagement.
  19. Collaborate with Other Brands: Partner with complementary brands for co-marketing initiatives that broaden your reach.
  20. Seek Professional Guidance: Consider hiring digital marketing and branding experts for strategic guidance.

By following this comprehensive procedure, you’ll establish a robust brand identity that significantly enhances your company’s online visibility, enabling you to stand out in the digital crowd.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “What Is Your Brand Identity and Why Does It Matter to SEO?”

Your brand identity is like your digital signature. Having a strong and consistent branding strategy can help you build a loyal audience that will continuously visit your website. This repeated traffic can send a positive signal to search engines, It will improve your website’s authority and rankings. Investing in your brand is a smart move towards achieving SEO success.

your brand can have a big impact on the customer experience you provide and even, potentially, your performance in the search results.

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