Friday, January 16, 2009

Harvard Business School Series: Branding and Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs)

by Sarah Cortes

Branding in 2008- Cheat Sheet

It turns out that understanding and controlling Search Engine algorithms is where the future of marketing is headed, and is influencing branding by incorporating aspects that can affect SEO.

Tonight Harvard Business School hosted a CEO Roundtable called "Creating Best-Selling Brands That Drive Long-Term Growth. 5 CEOs Share their Marketing Insights on creating long-term brand equity." It provided "30 Minute Breakout Session w/ each CEO after Panel Discussion." It was described as a "Leadership Track Event," and said, "Enjoy a one-of-a-kind evening with 5 CEOs as they share their insight, vision and strategies to build sustainable, leading brands that drive business growth and increase shareholder value. In today’s ever-changing competitive landscape, it takes dynamic leaders to innovate, inspire, and motivate their teams to focus on innovative marketing and business strategies and drive revenue, build brand equity, enhance loyalty and drive growth to a new plateau of success." The CEO Panel Included:

Torrence Boone, CEO, Enfatico, a cool ad agency, we learned, whose first client was Dell
Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar, a pretty cool company
Ralph Crowley, CEO of Polar and Adirondack Beverages. Cool drinks.
Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace, which, we learned, provides cool online customer focus groups
Charles J. Kravetz, CEO of NECN-TV, which we all know as "the news." Pretty cool.

Invited were members of the HBS Association of Boston, of whom 172 registered and 150 showed up. Pretty impressive turnout, but small enough to be intimate, in a fascinating way. Like viewing a squash match with its small and intimate gallery.

We did not learn much about how these awesome brands were created. Rather, we learned about what’s on the CEO’s mind at present, which, as it turns out, is mainly customers and customer experience.

A question about search engine optimization sidetracked everyone for quite a while. It seems CEOs are discovering search engines provide free advertising, in a sense. But they are focused on purchasing “key words.” SEO is so much more. Torrance Boone pointed out that SEO doesn’t end with your firm popping up at the top of Google’s list. It begins there, because where your customer lands when he clicks on your Google link can make all the difference.

Forgot what “branding” and SEO are considered, exactly, these days? Here’s a cheat sheet:

The following definitions of "branding" and “SEO” were found:
"From a shallow point of view, brand is what's given by a company to its merchandise so the manufacturer can be identified by consumers. Yet, after an increasing evolution on the production systems that allows almost any manufacturer to make high quality and satisfactory products, brands became a way of distinguishing simple commodities and their manufacturers by status, emotional characteristics and subjective qualities. A well-built brand gives the company or product personality, and evokes emotional and subliminal characteristics that are not necessarily found in the company or product themselves." - Yardeena Sherry, How To Understand Branding.

Wikipedia tells us the following:
A brand is a collection of symbols, experiences and associations connected with a product, a service, a person or any other artifact or entity. Brands have become increasingly important components of culture and the economy, now being described as "cultural accessories and personal philosophies" - Birkin, Michael (1994). "Assessing Brand Value," in Brand Power.

Search engine optimization (SEO) -As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.

Yet another way that the world keeps changing under your feet.

copyright 2009 Sarah Cortes

You can read Sarah's other tech columns at IT Knowledge Exchange

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