No Branding.. Are You Stupid!? 7 Reasons Branding is MANDATORY for ANY Online Business If anyone has seen my service threads on BHW you know I like to do a lot of branding. My sales thread matches the banners I advertise with and they all tie into the design of my website. I don't think I am wrong when I say the majority of the marketplace services on the forum aren't branded. Some might not think having a nice website and a consistent brand image is important...but I am here to tell you that branding is MANDATORY for ANY online business if you want to be successful. It doesn't matter if you don't want to be taken seriously...but if you want to really build a business you have to always think about branding. This applies to forum sales threads...offline SEO agencies...review/affiliate websites...EVERYTHING. Look at some of the most recognizable brands in every industry and think for a minute... When you think fast food do you think McDonalds and Burger King or do you think of Dick & Harry's Burger Joint in east butt-fuck? You think McDonalds and Burger King because they brand the piss out of their crappy food. Their food sucks. It is horrible for you. But they sell BILLIONS of dollars worth of it every year because they have their branding on point. If you want to listen to music at the gym are you going to go into the Apple store and buy an iPod or are you going to walk into some no name electronics store and buy a generic crappy mp3 player? 9 out of 10 people automatically think of an Apple iPod when they need a portable music player. Why? Well, it isn't because they are the best product out there...it is because Apple is a branding machine. Without a brand you are nothing. A company or service without branding might as well be some 1 trick pony working out of a crack house doing your SEO on a couple of $150 laptops. Seriously. Think about it. If someone isn't willing to invest time, money, and effort into creating a brand do you trust them? I wouldn't...it is clear indication that they are incompetent and clueless. Anyway, here are my top reasons why every online business needs to focus on branding... 1. Branding Creates Referrals Just like I mentioned above good branding makes people well aware of your brand...and they think of you even before it is time to make a purchase. It also helps to create referrals because satisfied customers will talk to you among their friends and contacts and then when they need what you offer they will make that connection...and if you are good at branding they won't have a choice but to buy from you. I service a lot of clients across all of my SEO services. From all over the world and from almost every niche you can imagine. When they receive good service they tell friends "Yeah I got "X" service in the marketplace at blackhatworld.com...you should check it out" ...then that person comes here and they can't help but see my banners or my sticky thread. If that branding wasn't in place they would have to search all around and would probably get confused with the hundreds of services that are available since they opened the flood gates here! Branding allows me to make a good enough impression with clients that they refer the service by name....and branding also goes its job on the other end by drawing that referral in. If they just said "look for the t0mmy guy" it wouldn't be as effective. 2. A Branded Company Creates Trust Branding also creates trust with potential buyers. I'm going to be real for a minute here...there are A LOT of SEO buyers that are not members of this forum. They are other SEO agencies that are reselling or looking for link diversity...or they are enterprise clients that do SEO on the employee level. They are all over this place...they just don't register accounts on BHW. Do you think they are going to sign up for service from a vendor that has done a bit of branding or someone with zero branding and just sends you to an intake form. It takes a few minutes and a couple dollars to create a proper checkout process that is branded. It helps to build trust...yet so many people don't do it. The same mentality applies to digital products (think clickbank and jvzoo) and blogs that make their money from adsense and affiliate sales. We do a lot of SEO for these types of websites and so many blogs don't even have a custom logo. They expect to make sales without even investing $5 on a logo. It blows my mind. EVERYTHING needs branding. There are customers out there that will not make a purchase...or even enter an email address if a website looks too generic or amateur. A simple logo can change the thought process. Every single online business needs branding. 3. Branding Creates a Standard of Quality & Service Let's go back to the Apple example I used at the very top. When people buy an Apple product they expect it to work perfectly and last long. Why? Because Apple has branded themselves as the leader in tech and electronics. Nobody buys a MacBook and hopes that it lasts 6 months. Now, when you buy a $150 laptop what happens? YOU HOPE IS LASTS 6 MONTHS! This is all due to branding. People didn't just wake up one day and think "Oh wow Apple has a cool logo...they must make quality products that last"...nope. Apple has pounded that into everyone's head through their branding. Know what else has consumers thinking that Apple products are the best? THEIR PACKAGING. If you have ever purchased any Apple product you know their packaging kicks ass. You have to make your website, service or product LOOK GOOD. Would Apple sell the same number of products if they packaged them in tin foil? Nope. They have created a standard of quality and service. This is the same approach I take when creating my sales threads and websites. It blows my mind that people will put their SEO in the hands of people that can't even invest a few hundred dollars in a nice design. That is major red flags. 4. When You Brand You Connect With Your Customers A lot of customers will buy from a specific store because of the experience and not just because of the product. Think of all the gimmicky restaurants...like a popular sports bar. Or even better yet.....HOOTERS Is Hooters packing their bar and restaurant daily because they serve the best chicken wings in the world? Heck no. Their food sucks. (Note to Hooters: Please open one in Ireland ASAP - thank you) People go to Hooters because they connect with the brand. They love girls and boobs. Simple as that. They have branded themselves as a place to go look at hot girls and have a pint and some wings. If I opened a wings place and hired some girls to flaunt their tits would I make millions? It might do ok business...but it isn't going to have that same impact that a Hooters would next door. Now you know why I use boobs in my banners and why everyone seems to be following suit lately. They sell 5. Branding Separates You From Weak Competitors This is my favorite. Every business and every niche is going to have competitors....but don't worry...the majority of them are clueless and they have no idea what they are doing. They die out because they fail...and there are other weak competitors in their shadows constantly springing up. I'm going to use a SEO example first and then another mainstream example. There are so many pages of BHW indexed in Google...and there are posts that rank on top for a lot of search terms. This attracts both noobs and business professionals to the forum that are not members. So, when someone that has NEVER been to the forum comes here looking for SEO service are they going to sign up for a service that is branded and looks like a real company or are they going to send money to some random PayPal address and then fill out some crappy form? I brand everything with these clients in mind. Forum regulars know me and know I provide quality...but the outside world doesn't. And guess who the majority of buyers are? Those outsiders! They don't know me from a hole in the wall...but they see my service threads have a good flow....I have banner ads that match the look and feel....my websites match the ads and sales pages...I can confidently say that RankUsNow is a BRAND. Not just some random service. Now an example for the non SEO world. APPLE again. So, the Apple watch is going to come out soon...everyone is all excited but guess what??? There are plenty of smart watches already on the market and plenty more are scheduled to come out. Many people say they are also better then the Apple watch...so why are people ONLY talking about the Apple watch? BRANDING! Did I really need to say it again? Apple brands the piss out of their launches to the point that the media doesn't even talk about the others. 6. Employees Work Harder For Brands You will never grow a business working just by yourself...you will eventually have to hire help...that could be physical help in your office or even a virtual assistant. Either way...you are going to have much more interest if the potential employee can sense that they will be working for a real brand and not some half ass company. When your workers feel as if they are part of something big they will work harder for you and take more pride in what they do. I have seen this first hand. Before when I hired people to work for me and wasn't on my A game as far as branding was concerned I experienced the typical flake out...because they didn't take it seriously. They reported late, didn't do all of their tasks...because they didn't take it seriously. Now when I hire someone they feel like they are working for a real company. They see the advertising and they see the marketing....they feel the same way some employee do that are sitting at a desk at a huge SEO company office. 7. Branding = Successful Expansion I know I have used them as an example a few times already....and I am going back to them: APPLE. Because they are so good at branding it allows them to enter new markets easy...they don't have to knock down walls to gain trust...they already have that. A great example is Apple TV...they just signed a deal to allow subscribers to get HBO from them for a small monthly fee. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple starts to put big cable and satellite TV companies out of business...actually I expect to see it happen. Because they have built their brand correctly they can enter any market they want and know they will kick ass. If Apple TV is priced right people will buy it without even thinking. The trust is there. They connection is there. People will buy without even thinking twice...like robot zombies programmed to do whatever they want. Imagine if you had a health and fitness blog....if you branded it right and built up a loyal following you could launch another blog....say in the cooking/recipe niche and your audience from the first blog is automatically going to check out your new blog and start to visit it as well just because you branded correctly and built that indirect relationship. They like your first blog so they assume the new one will be equally as good and helpful. This applies to any business. If anyone has any additional info/tips to add to this by all means do so. I'm just trying to share my experience in all parts of business...not just SEO. I know there are people that read this forum that have offline businesses and ecommerce businesses...so hopefully this can help everyone in some way or another. Show me someone that tells you that branding isn't important and I will show you a clueless business owner that is a failure Hope you enjoyed the read guys.. Until next time.. Ciao for now!