One of the toughest things to identify online is whether you have brand recognition, or if people are simply finding you though search. For some bloggers, this doesn’t matter – traffic is traffic. But for others, they are looking to build a brand identity. But since so many people simply “Google” a topic, it can be hard to know if you have online brand recognition or not.
So here are some simple ways to tell if you have online brand recognition, and why you should care.
Why Care About Online Brand Recognition?
Brand recognition is really important, especially in the online space. The question about brand recognition is really a question about why your reader should care about what you have to offer.
In business science, there are five key tiers of brand recognition:
- Brand Rejection - Where a customer has a negative association with your brand
- Brand Non-Awareness - When a customer simply doesn’t know you exist
- Brand Awareness - When a customer knows you exist, but doesn’t necessarily know or care about why you’re difference
- Brand Preference - When a customer knows you exist, and will prefer to chose you over a competitor
- Brand Loyalty - When a customer will choose your brand, and promote it
For many bloggers, they are trapped at brand non-awareness. People will simply search for a topic online, stumble across a blog post, and not care anymore about it.
If you’re a lucky blogger, you may have some brand awareness – this typically occurs if you have a specific style or writing or posting. However, at the end of the day, readers have so many choices they may or may not come to your site.
Moving to brand preference, you really start to gain some clout as a blogger and business owner. This is where readers prefer your take on content versus other. These are the bloggers that become more “well-known”:
None of them really share anything revolutionary or break new ideas. Rather, they have their own unique take on ideas, or explore other people’s ideas with their audience. However, as a result of the way they present information, they really gain a preference.
Finally, over time, preference becomes loyalty. This comes from readers relying on their preference, being amazed every time they read, and in turn, being will to continually share the content and stand by their “blogger”.
So, do you see why you should care? The bottom line is that online brand recognition can breed reader loyalty over time, as long as you continue to surprise and amaze your readers.
Metric Based Online Brand Recognition
So, how do you know whether you have online brand recognition? Here are a few things that you can check that are “metric-based” to check on your online brand recognition.
The first thing you can check is search metrics. An easy way to see if people are coming to your site based on your brand is to see if people are even searching for your brand. Here’s a good example from Pat Flynn:
As you can see, people are searching for his brand name of “smart passive income”. Not only are they searching for it, they are searching for it more than other organic search terms for his site. So, how much brand traffic equals a strong brand recognition? It really depends, but I would say that if you’re getting daily “good” traffic, and 50% or more of your traffic is branded, then you have strong brand recognition.
Direct traffic is basically a catch-all for all traffic that can’t be sourced. But, for the most part, it’s traffic from people who typed your webpage directly into the search bar. Also, it could be from people who’ve bookmarked your site. Either way, a large amount of direct traffic can mean that you’ve built a strong following that regularly checks in and sees what’s new on your site. You don’t want direct traffic to be all of your traffic, but if you have strong overall traffic, I like to see 33% direct traffic – it means you have a large following and a loyal brand.
I had to put subscribers at the bottom because of all the changes happening in the feed reader world, but in general, people who subscribe to your blog are at least at the “Brand Awareness” level. They took the time to put your blog in their reader, and they probably look at it from time to time. I only put it in the “Awareness” level because, most likely, the readers also have many other similar sites in their reader. But a large number of subscribers means that you do have a strong brand recognition.
Personal Brand Recognition
There’s more to brand recognition than just the metrics. You can also have brand recognition by making a personal impact on your readers – something that makes them act in a personal way.
The Thank You
One of the biggest personal ways that you can know you have online brand recognition is with the thank you email. The fact that someone is willing to take the time to send you an email means that you’ve made a personal connection with that person. That’s awesome, and it probably means you’ve got at least one loyal follower. The more of these you receive, the more you know that you’re building a strong online brand recognition.
Social media is another way to see if you’re building a personal brand recognition. I want to put an immediate stop to what you’re initially thinking – it’s not about social shares. Rather, it’s about the thoughts and additions that go along with the social shares. For example, someone could just tweet your post. That’s good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything above “awareness”. The key is what are they saying about your post?
If they add on “Best Article on XYZ -> “, that’s a big sign on brand awareness. Not only did they take the time to share, but they share your article with a positive prologue. So, while social media is great for getting your brand out there, the key to developing a strong online brand recognition is to have others adding a positive piece to the puzzle.
Leverage Your Differentiator
The bottom line to building a strong online brand recognition is that you need to leverage your differentiator. Just think about the people I mentioned above – J.D. Roth, Mr. Money Mustache, Pat Flynn – they all have a strong brand differentiator. They don’t just blog about personal finance or affiliate marketing. They have a unique viewpoint on the space in which they operate, and they leverage that to their advantage.
It starts with the basics: a unique logo, a unique theme, a fun bio/personal story, and their writing/blogging showcases their unique style.
So, when thinking about whether you just have a blog, or whether you’re building an online brand, think about these key aspects of brand recognition.
What other ways can you tell if you have strong online brand recognition?