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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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Why read this? : Brand expertise helps you build better brands, but our research shows very few people search for it. Instead, more specific areas like brand strategy and identity get a bigger share of search. Learn why that matters, and why what people don’t search for is also important. Read this to better understand what brand expertise really means for marketing. 

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

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

We felt many market researchers didn’t meet the needs of their internal audience.

Too much focus on research process, and not enough on the research outcomes. The market research story wasn’t clear enough.

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

But it got us thinking. What would we find if we did the same keyword research process on brand development terms? 

So that’s what we did. We looked at which marketing and brand words drive the most searches. And the title of the article asks, is anyone actually looking for brand expertise?

Marketing is more widely searched than brand

First we did a quick and dirty keyword search on Google Ads for marketing terms.

It got us 9 common terms we’d expect marketers to use a lot in their day to day marketing roles. 

So far, so good. But look more closely at the list, and some interesting things jump out. 

Google Ads Brand and Marketing Keyword research results

First, look at the difference using the word “marketing” makes versus using “brand”. The top rated brand term (brand strategy) only gets 1,000 searches a month. Whereas marketing strategy gets 5,400 searches. More than 5 times as many searches.

Interesting.

Now, 2 thoughts. First, 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. That’s a can of worms 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’ terms are searched less.

If the marketing industry was the fitness industry

We tried to think of another ‘expertise’ subject we could compare it to. The best we came up with is maybe marketing is like “fitness”?

A broad concept 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). Brand makes up just over 5% of marketing searches. This seems really low.

After all, isn’t brand an important part of the overall marketing process? As per our brand development process guide, all the 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. 

2 terms dominate – strategy and identity. 

Why those?

Well, again, 2 thoughts. First, 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’ve grumbled before about people who feel the need to call themselves ‘strategists’. How patronising and arrogant that is to other people in the business. But part of what these strategists also do goes against what they’re trying to achieve.

Good strategists make complex things simple

Someone who’s good at strategy can make complex things simple. Good strategy leads 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 they’re “not being strategic”. Or “not being strategic enough”. But when you ask them what they mean, they shrug and tell you to work it out yourself. 

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

Urgh.

The fact that sort of bullshit goes on is probably why both brand and marketing strategy get searched so often. By desperate managers looking for a way to get over this internal barrier.

It’s a real challenge for your marketing decision-making.  

Brand identity is baked into everything you do

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

As per our brand essence article, we already knew the importance of brand identity. But it wasn’t until we started writing marketing content, we realised just how much it’s 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 Bock’s book about Google, he talks about learning from the 2 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”. That sort of thing. 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 which could help businesses raise their game. One with smart 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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