Online brand and reputation management is without a doubt an extremely complex undertaking. Not only must you identify how your brand is perceived, you must then also design an effective brand management strategy that allows you to adequately cope with that perception. Effective online branding requires you to not only build a positive online presence, but to also strengthen your brand’s defenses against potential negativity; threats that can come from virtually anywhere.
Google, whose name is now inextricably linked to the idea of online branding and brand reputation management, recognizes how essential their services have become to the establishment of brand identity. This is perhaps one major reason for the existence of Google’s Brand Impression Tool, an interactive brand management service that provides even the most novice of users with the opportunity to take a peek at the status of their online presence. This tool, offered to users since 2012, in essence provides users the opportunity to take a snapshot of their online brand, allowing them a brief, and perhaps summarized glance, at brand associations, activity, mentions and imagery that have occurred throughout the Google spectrum during a certain period of time. According to an article by WindFarm Marketing, Brand Impressions is “an ingenious tool for tracking a brand’s presence on the web,” as well as an effort to “change something boring into something entertaining and interactive.” Through visually-appealing and easy-to-understand imagery, Google has discovered an easy way for users to track, at least superficially, the movement of their brand through the digital universe, giving them somewhat of a heads-up as to the need for possible changes or adaptations to their brand management strategy.
One knock against Google’s Brand Impression Tool may be its tunnel-vision approach to brand management. With a strict focus on Google products like Google+, YouTube and Google Search Results, the Brand Impression Tool fails to recognize a brand’s influence through such venues as Facebook and Twitter, ignoring what tend to be essential components of any effective management strategy. After all, Google has a vested interest in marketing its products, and, according to WindFarm, it’s important to remember that “(The Brand Impressions Tool) is an advertisement. Google, not so sneakily, highlights their own services. It reminds you that Google+ exists, and that there are people talking about your brand there.”
Despite the obvious self-favoritism, however, Google is still perhaps the most far-reaching and impactful voice for millions of brands on the web, making this tool a great place for anyone to educate themselves on brand association and activity.
The Brand Impression tool, at least superficially, provides users an idea as to where and how their brand stands in the Google sphere. Though the tool may not be perfect, it does offer info-seekers the chance to better visualize which ideas their brand is commonly being associated with, as well as an idea as to where and how image repair needs to begin.
The Brand Impression Tool consists of three distinct, interactive and visually-appealing aspects, and can be a great place to begin monitoring your brand’s performance and image online. Through the use of the Impression Tool Dashboard’s Visuals, Actions and Topics sections, even the most inexperienced of brand managers can begin to develop a better picture of their brand’s identity, associations and popularity. The Google Brand Impression Tool is a powerful way to:
- Monitor visuals associated with your brand name online;
- Track the activity and mentions of your brand online and
- Identify topics closely related to your market and brand.
The remainder of this article provides a more in depth look at each of these uses.
The Visuals section of the Brand Impression Tool focuses on, you guessed it, imagery, laying out both the online videos and the pictures receiving the most attention in relation to your brand name. Google lists, or rather displays, the images that pop up the most in Google image search results, Google+ and in the Top News Articles that mention your brand. Visuals also provides users with access to the Most Viewed YouTube Video that concerns yourself or your company, allowing you to access and play that video immediately. Through Google’s Visuals section, you have the opportunity to survey the brand images that are garnering the most attention, and to then determine if those images are providing your brand the most desirable, or positive, association. By understanding which images most commonly turn up in a Google or YouTube search of your brand name, you or your professional online brand management firm are now empowered with the information needed to begin designing a better brand image placement strategy across the web. “Your online footprint needs to be effective and attractive to all potential customers,” says Digital Marketing Specialist John Bonney. “Your brand needs to be clearly defined across all forms of promotion.”
A professional brand imaging strategy can help you to establish, or re-establish, strong image-to-brand associations, improving your brand’s visual identity and creating a stellar first impression for online users.
Google’s Topics Section helps the user determine which keywords, phrases and ideas are receiving most connection, or “tie-in”, with your brand name, displaying the phrases that have most often attached themselves to your name and your online image. The Brand Impression Topics section also displays the most popular discussions brands are involved in on Google+, as well as the Top or most popular News Articles your brand is featured or mentioned in. An attorney with a positive online image, for example, may commonly be associated with the phrase “experienced legal professional,” or “Worker’s Compensation Expert,” which may then be displayed prominently in the Topics results field and in positive and related online discussion forums. If a professional has a negative item or info circulating online, however, their brand may be commonly attached with an idea that is currently posing harm to their online image.
Negative discussions, articles and online reviews have a way of gaining special traction on the web, and this traction can often lead to unwanted prominence in a Google search rankings page. Sites like JobVent, GlassDoor and JobBite, for example “allow anyone to leave an anonymous reviews of any company in the world,” according to Monster.com, “often with little or no effective validation that the author is even a real employee.” Other more mainstream review sites like Google Places and Yelp have policies that forbid users to submit anonymous reviews. Bad customer reviews on Google, Yelp and similar sites are a problem for businesses of all shapes and sizes nonetheless.
Just one negative review on one of these sites has the potential to become a digital conflagration, simply because “these sites are designed to rank highly in a Google Search, and often appear in the first few positions of a search.” This unwanted visibility has the potential to harm the credibility of either your personal or your business’s unique brand. “Since practically everyone googles the name of a googles the name of a company or individual they’re considering doing business with these days,” says BusinessNewsDaily.com Assistant Editor Nicole Fallon, “it’s important to make sure online searchers get results that bolster your company’s credibility.”
The Brand Impression Topics page has the capability to show you which articles, review sites and keywords relevant to your business are receiving the most attention, allowing you to identify and monitor online reviews, comments and other content that could potentially compromise your brand’s reputation, integrity and image . If a threat does indeed exist, it may be time to consider the using the brand reputation management services of an experienced company that is equipped to design a comprehensive strategy that restore positive associations, perception and credibility to your brand.
Combining SEO and content marketing, in addition to other online marketing tactics, a good search engine reputation management (SERM) strategy will effectively water-down or suppress most negative results (such as a negative article, comment or review) on Google search results, and re-establish your brand’s association with topics more suitable to your desired brand image and (for SEOs) the keywords your brand wants to target. A good reputation management company will also determine topic-based associations your brand is receiving on venues not displayed by Google’s Brand Impression Tool, providing a more comprehensive analysis of brand perception.
Tracking the online activity involving your brand name over a certain period of time can help you better understand how consistently your brand name is reaching the public, allowing you to identify potential gaps in your brand management strategy. Through an easy-to-understand overview of your brand’s level of activity on Google+, YouTube and in Google News, the Brand Impression Tool Actions section provides you a basic idea of the time periods your brand’s interest piques, plummets and retains consistency. Though specific activity data doesn’t show up on the Actions’ page, Google does attempt to provide you a general idea of the ebbs and flows of your brand activity in popular Google services. An experienced Google reputation service, however, can provide a user with more specific and workable information; data that can provide a useful and well-supported foundation for a more effective brand management strategy. Though the Brand Impression Tool does exhibit fluctuations in brand activity in certain online venues, and can keep you alert of the need for better brand management in these venues, the information lacks a certain analytically element on which to develop a stronger brand.
Business and brand online reputation management companies have the capability to generate the specific data needed to create stronger levels of brand activity online, actions that are consistently positive, enduring and resonating. Tools like SEO, content creation and other professional methods can help an individual or firm better control the quality and the level of activity that surrounds their brand.
Google’s Brand Impression Tool is a powerfully-easy way for anyone to begin personal brand monitoring, yet online reputation management services for brands may offer you the opportunity to collect, analyze and capitalize on the information needed to optimize your brand’s performance. Through professional monitoring of your brand online, analysis of brand mentions and actions and ongoing search engine reputation management work, an online reputation company like InternetReputation.com can restore long-term health, resilience and positivity to your business’ reputation and brand name on search engine results. This is usually enough to give your brand the boost it needs to establish an effective and long-term presence on internet searches.
Author bio: Denver Digital PR, SEO Inbound Marketing Expert Joseph Chierotti has worked as a SEO strategist consultant for top ranked online reputation management firms. Follow Joe Chierotti on Google+ and on Twitter.