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Online Branding by a Schmuck

January 2004

"Don't be a schmuck." - Rob Frankel

Online Branding

Yummy. Such a quick and easy article idea. I have been reading book after book after book about marketing and branding. I come to the conclusion that everyone has their own opinion, and so this is mine.

Success Stories

Seth Godin shaved his head and spoke at any and all marketing conferences. Jakob Nielson has one of the worlds ugliest websites. Rob Frankel help create the amazing ReMax brand. Google's simple design is part of its branding. Christopher Locke is successful for his Rage Boy antics.


That is an exceptionally diverse group. Often times it's members are criticized by groups of others.

Christopher Locke has a home page which states "To enter, your IQ must be over 18! If you're dumber than that, please leave now." He gets emails like "You really just don't give a fuck, do you."

Google has "fans" such as Daniel Brandt over at Google Watch.

Seth Godin crafted tons of buzz words and each of his products is delivered in a format that is the embodiment of its purpose. Of course the error in the Permission Marketing model is that off the start some companies still are required to interrupt people to get their initial attention. In "Gonzo Marketing" Christopher Locke paints a picture of Seth Godin in the Marketing Psych Ward for some of his ideas.

Jakob Nielson even has a drinking game bashing him in much the same way people have bashed George Bush. Incidentally, Bush sucks!

Choose a Voice

The group above are all successful because they took radical steps to differentiate themselves from their piers. Shaving your head, being mad at everything, or even having a super simple site design ...these all work.

Pick something that makes you different than everyone else. Here is the catch, it should not be hard to do. Just as I am frequently over the top and overtly outspoken, you also have a natural voice. Use It!

Chose an Industry and an Angle

Yorkie, its not for girls.

If somebody is pissed off, then somebody is probably laughing.

Me standing next to Seth, laughing at the Yorkie cand bar.

Pick your target not based on finance, but based on interest. I could make a site about cigarettes (a while ago when I was new to the web I wasted time making one), but because I do not like smoking it is a crappy site. Do something that interests you!

Branding by Logo

Your logo and name help, but neither of these are your brand. They are just morsels of what your brand is. These also should be an extension of who you already are.

Its really easy to pick a name that will be able to get optimized links or sound overly clever, but a simple and marketable name usually will take you further in the long run.

I just got my first professionally designed logo. Its really large. My friend Mike said "It's way too big." I knew it was perfect. I do not think any other SEO website has a logo that takes up about 30% of the screen.

Does it hurt my usability, YES! Is it obnoxious, YES! If I were a quieter type, a logo of that size would be no good. Since I am a loud mouth its perfect. It is an extension of who I am.

What is Branding?

You know things I never will, and you have your own perspective. Think of how you can use that to solve my problems or make me laugh. Creating colorful slogans for no reason is stupid. Do not be afraid to be wacky, loud, orange, pink, purple or even Burnt Sienna (currently ranked #44). Just make sure the color is who you are.

- by Aaron Wall, owner of Search Marketing Info

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