04 July 2006

Brand or SEO

Now that Gurtie has clarified that Tribble and Linkie Winkie aren't intimately connected (see her comment here) I thought it would be fun to explore one of the questions raised by Tribble. Tribble (We look cute but boy do we consume resources) makes the case that Advertising Agencies don't understand web marketing and that many of the things that they do are actually counter-productive.

In a thread started by the Founder, several SEOs set out their belief that SEO is significantly more important than brand. I'm not sure that's true. When the web was new and eCommerce was just beginning, the type of people who bought on the internet did so because it was radical, adventurous. Brand wasn't important in that environment. As the internet matures (the last stats I saw suggested that over 70% of the world's population had never made a phone call, never mind seen the internet), the people who buy will be different. Already, the internet is a channel which sells predominantly branded goods and services.

Brand is a way of providing a short-cut in the sales process. It overcomes issues of integrity and trust. A site without a brand, selling against a site with a brand has to address those issues head on. SEO will help both, but the primary and secondary sales process on the unbranded site will have to be significantly more powerful for the non-branded site if it is to be successful.

The truth is that the Agencies and the SEOs need each other. Creative copy and images remain the drivers to many people's buying decisions. SEOs can't afford to ignore ad agencies - they should be an important source of business and if I was acting as a Business Developer for a talented SEO team I would be looking at developing all the intermediary sales channels I could. Ad agencies can't afford to ignore SEOs - their clients will eventually realise that there are more cost-effective ways of delivering their commercial objectives over the web.


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