OPINION

The Importance of Search Branding

The scene opens. It’s Google’s day. The festivities are full steam ahead, the skateboarding mathematicians are jumping for joy and have thrown away their used hockey sticks while sipping champagne. They are now calculating the tractions and the centrifugal forces of their new Ferraris.

Looking from a wider perspective, beyond the Google IPO, it seems that the big revolution of “to be searched and to be found” has finally come of age. This evolving world of search engines is breaking most of the existing rules of marketing, branding and advertising.

Right now, you can either be found right away or stay lost in the deep. You have little to say in this matter; the mighty search engine with its mysterious and complex software will decide your exposure. You hope that if you simply wait in line, some algorithm will notice you and ask you to show yourself.

This cyber game plays out like an inquisition from the medieval period. You are summoned; otherwise you stay put. The kingdom is now in the hands of the lords of the search engines.

Flood Gates Opening Up

Let’s zoom in. The remarkable growth demonstrated by Google’s super-smart, youthful risk-takers from our earlier period’s exuberance is once again proof that a good idea with hard work will take you to the top. Well done, you really deserve it. Go Google. Go Ferrari.

Now that the flood gates of search-engine techniques are opening, the fact that our products and services will mainly be exposed by our Web sites — the e-commerce gateway — these techniques and their gatekeepers will get all the attention. Help please.

There are some dozens of other search engines waiting in the wings, and hundreds more will pop up when they see thousands of red Ferraris “Googling” on the highways. The name confusion also is about to kick in.

Search engine branding is based on getting instant popularity and an ultra-cool, hip personality. The more freely you use them, the more powerful and legit they become. The more the number of search engines, the more the complexity. The duplication of records, useless data and blogs becoming cyber-blobs threaten to bury companies looking for exposure. Where’s Robin Hood when we need him?

The Dragon Slayers

New regiments of search-engine optimization experts all over the world are attempting to tackle this phenomenon, and the new revolution is not going to allow any room for the old-fashioned name-branding schemes with fancy color themes and twisted slogans.

AltaVista, Excite, Hotbot, DogPile, Inktomi and MetaCrawler. These name identities appear almost prehistoric, but if we follow the rules and laws of business naming, once again these icons might end up challenging Google on Wall Street. Financial markets are somber and conservative. They typically look for sobriety and have no interest in skateboarding attitudes of the dot-com or the Enron era.

In other words, proper business name trademarks, solid global domain names and thoughtful corporate name identities are all good prerequisites for the pursuits of any challengers to the Google throne — or even any company hoping to gain exposure on any search engine.

This battle is all about visibility and how to be found. Search engines will control national and global marketing access. Those who fail to appear on the first page or two will be left behind, in the dark, in the woods. Nobody will hear them.

Importance of Branding

The industry urgently needs a quick crash course in branding. Otherwise, connecting with potential customers will become a very tough challenge. Lucky are those who have a short and clear dot-com brand. Customers can simply go directly there — like Sony.com or PlayStation.com.

Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of business names are seriously problematic. Some are too long, too confusing or totally disjointed to make any sense with the business itself.

These problems are serious issues for achieving higher visibility. Figure out quickly what your names are doing to your corporate empire, both in print and online, because when the time comes, they better be presentable to the lords of the search engines.


Naseem Javed, author Naming for Power and also Domain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global name identities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executive workshops on image and name identity issues. Contact him at [email protected].


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