It’s marketing 101, define your target market. Make your product relevant to your target market, build your brand around the same core values as that demographic, and they will buy it. However, brands big and small are having issues defining themselves in terms of SEO key words and phrases because it infringes upon their brand personality. But if that brand was built to serve a target market, how does speaking in the consumers terms hurt them? It doesn’t, unless you initially identified the wrong consumer, or are refusing to evolve with that consumer.
Internet marketing forces brands to step beyond the internal conversation and actually engage consumers by using their lexicon and speaking in a language that consumers are defining. This is the opposite of what they teach you in marketing classes in business school- build a strong brand personality and consumers will eat sleep and breathe it. The explosion of internet marketing and brand conversations, namely search engine optimization, has changed the stakes.
Part of search engine optimization (SEO) is on page optimization in which you need to define the best keywords for your product/service and use them in your copy and in your metadata, headers, alt tags etc. Using keywords that consumers are searching for, but that your brand personality wouldn’t use organically, puts brands in a complex situation. Do they abandon their defined personality to be able to sell to the masses? For example, if you sell Baroque Pewter Tea Sets, and are very concerned about the distinction between silver and pewter, you might be missing out on a customer segment that is looking for something silver in color, rather than material. Like anything, brand personality and SEO existing harmoniously depends on balance. Define your brand as you see fit, but make sure you are breaking down your complex personality into phrases and terms that consumers understand and are searching for.
Perhaps your brand is an irreverent and intellectual doctor brand and you want to attract like-minded consumers that are not necessarily in the medical profession. There is a way to sound intellectual and irreverent without limiting your sales and only appealing to the top .0000001% of IQ’s. If, for transparencys sake, you want to use a lot of medical terminology for ingredients, be sure to also use colloquial names as well so you can attract the medical community along with other targeted consumer groups.
If the brand is 50 years old, the consumers they started with are older and perhaps using different terminology. Or you might be serving a different generation in which case a whole new set of rules in applicable. Keep in touch with your consumer group, learn what they like, how they speak, where they shop etc. Don’t be so rigid in your defined personality, as it needs to evolve with the times and the consumer. A brand personality is only as good as the (evolving) consumers that buy into it.
Amina AlTai is the Marketing Director for the Imagemme New York City office.