Is anyone looking for brand expertise?

Woman in exercise gear sitting cross legged on a yoga mat and twisting to one side

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Snapshot : Keyword research shows more searches for ‘marketing’ than for ‘brand’ terms. And while brand strategy and brand identity generate searches for reasons we cover in this post, many other brand terms have low search volumes So, is anyone actually looking for brand expertise? Yes, but there are opportunities for all brands to raise their game.

In a recent article, we used Keyword research to look at what people searched for about market research.

Our research left us with an ironic conclusion. Though market researchers have the technical skills to explore the needs of target audiences, they rarely apply them to market their own skills. 

We felt many market researchers didn’t meet the needs of brand managers and business owners. They were too stuck on the research process and not focussed enough on the research outcomes. 

Person holding glasses in front of them against a blurry street background

But it got us thinking, what if we did the same research but looked at more brand development related search this time? 

In this article, we’ll look at what marketing and brand words drive the most searches. And as the title of the article asks, we look at whether anyone is actually looking for brand expertise.

Marketing is more widely searched than brand

First we did a quick and dirty keyword capture from Google Ads.

It got us nine common terms we would expect brand and marketing managers to use a lot in their day to day marketing roles. 

So, what do we learn from this?

Google Ads Brand and Marketing Keyword research results

Well, first off, look at the difference using the word “marketing” makes instead of the word “brand”. The top rated brand term (brand strategy) only gets 1,000 searches a month. Whereas the two marketing related terms we tested, get 3.6 times and 5.4 times more monthly searches. 

Interesting.

Now, two thoughts. Firstly, yes, marketing is an overall catch-all terms for all sorts of concepts, frameworks and ideas. Let’s not get into the definition of marketing here, as that’s a can of worms to save for another day.

And brand and branding is a much more specific concept within marketing. So, perhaps it’s not such a surprise that ‘brand’ is not so widely searched?

If the marketing industry was the fitness industry

Trying to think of another ‘expertise’ subject that we can compare it with, maybe marketing is like “fitness”?

A broad concept that many people will search on. And “brand” then is more like “aerobic” or “muscle” or “flexibility”, a more specific and tightly defined part of the overall concept?

Maybe brand is the yoga of the marketing world? Where the underlying flexibility supports the development of other growth areas?

That kinda makes sense. Kinda.

Woman in exercise gear sitting cross legged on a yoga mat and twisting to one side

But second thought, look at the volumes of searches.

Take the average of those brand terms (around 250) and those marketing terms (around 4,500) and it would seem brand only takes up just over 5% of marketing searches. 

This seems really low. Given how important brand is as part of the overall marketing process. As per our skill guide on the brand development process, research shows the value of brands in driving long-term ROI. 

And yet, it doesn’t seem to be what people look for. 

Brand strategy and identity

Drill into brand a bit more, and here’s where it gets even more interesting. 

Two terms dominate all the others – strategy and identity. 

Why those?

Well, again, two thoughts. Firstly, on strategy. 

The dictionary definition of strategy is quite simple – “a plan of action designed to achieve a major or overall aim”.

But in our experience, the practice of strategy in most businesses is anything but simple. 

We grumbled in previous posts about people who feel the need to call themselves ‘strategists’. How patronising and arrogant that is to other other people in the business. But part of what these strategists also do goes against what they actually set out to do.

Good strategists make complex things simple

Someone who is good at strategy can make complex things simple. Strategy needs to lead to clear and meaningful actions to achieve a goal.

But what happens in most business is well-intentioned but less experienced managers present action plans to their bosses.

They then get told by strategists and senior managers that they are “not being strategic”. Or “not being strategic enough”. But when you ask them what they mean by this, they can’t explain it. 

Board level view of a chessboard as you are playing black and your opponent is moving their white queen

At best, they might say the Powerpoint slides didn’t tell a clear story. There’s a lot of value in good storytelling

Or, they’ve not quoted enough ‘experts’ or used the latest buzzwords. Or just that their Powerpoint deck and presentations skills need more work. We’ve all had that experience, right? 

Urgh.

And the fact that sort of bullshit that goes on, is probably why both brand and marketing strategy get searched so often. By desperate managers looking for a more simple answer to get over this internal barrier.

It’s a real challenge to getting to great marketing decision-making.  

Brand identity is baked into everything you do

The relatively high volumes on searches on identity is also interesting.

As we talked about in our article on brand essence, we already knew the importance of brand identity. But it wasn’t until we started writing marketing content, we realised just how much it is baked into everything you do in marketing.

And because it connects to so many other activities – your communications, your advertising, your website, your graphic design, it’s maybe not a surprise that after strategy, it’s a highly searched term. 

The margins of brand expertise search keywords

Our final thought.

In Laszlo’s Bocks book about Google, he talks about learning from the two tails of the business. The highest performers and the weakest performers are more interesting to look at than the people in the middle. We see a similar distribution here when it comes to search keywords around brand.

Because other than ‘strategy’ and ‘identity’, the search numbers are REALLY low. 

What stuck out for us is that when you own a brand, your plan and your commercial mix are critical for the success of the business. But here, we see “plan”, “sales”, “profitability” and “development” as all really quite low in terms of search volume.

Now, maybe ‘sales’ we can understand given it has more than one meaning.

In fact, the related keyword list on “brand sales” were all retailer related sales promotion terms. “Superdry sale”, “Ted Baker sale”, “Nike sale” just to give you an idea from the first three terms. So, yes, maybe a bit of refinement there might get us a better answer?

But, the fact so few people search on profitability would concern us. And so few people looking at brand plans or brand development. 

Conclusion - Low search : few people value brand expertise

It makes us think there’s only a small group of marketers who actually value brand expertise. Who are keen enough to keep researching, learning and finding out more about marketing and brands.

If only there was a really smart marketing coaching service out there that could help businesses raise their game. One that had real brand expertise?

Maybe, we’ll go search for that? 

Contact us if you’ve looked for brand expertise and are struggling to find it. 

laptop google search

Photo Credit

 Yoga Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash

Glasses : Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

Strategy (Chess) : Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Google on a laptop : Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

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