Branding And Search Go Hand in Hand, SES Panelists Say

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SAN JOSE, CA -- Search plays an imperative role when it comes to branding, according to panelists at the Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo in San Jose.

Brands rely greatly on emotion and transcend definition, said Ron Belanger, senior director of channel strategy and development for Yahoo Search Marketing, during the "Branding and Search" session.

"Customers build an image of a brand as birds build nests: from the scraps and straws they chance upon," Mr. Belanger said.

Statistics back this up. Yahoo conducted a study that found that 79 percent of those polled had been introduced to a brand they were unaware of through search.

Mr. Belanger also noted that the challenge of branding is that there is no easy way to measure effectiveness.

Mike Margolin of Honda agency RPA talked about ways that search marketing can support branding.

By purchasing the words that come to mind when thinking of a particular brand, companies could really benefit, he said.

In addition, Mr. Margolin said that certain parts of a campaign, like visuals, stick in people's minds: for example, Geico and its gecko, or Toys "R" Us and Jeffrey the Giraffe.

Twenty to 40 percent of all referrals come from search engines in Honda's "Elements and Friends" campaign, further emphasizing the importance of search within branding efforts.

"Search is powerful because it is the opportune moment and allows marketers to deliver contextually relevant brand messages," said Jonathan Mendez, a partner at OTTO Digital.

"Effective branding in this new paradigm means your brand message must be contextually relevant," he said. "Your brand must also be made visible."

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