Should You Be Trying To Rustle Up a Brand?

There are various schools of thought for newbies entering affiliate marketing. Go niche, go generic domain, go SEO or go PPC and fame and fortune will await you! Interestingly enough when the experts offer their advice not one ever mentions “go brand” and yet a brand identity could be one of your most important assets depending on where you wish to go with affiliate marketing.

Whilst any domain can be developed into a reputable site, gain recognition, backlinks, authority etc. over time, a bit of forethought about brand identity is in my opinion worth considering when starting off a new site.

A brand doesn’t have to be off the wall like Loquax. It can be generic like “Voucher Codes” or “Red Widgets”, but something a little different can often help you stand out from the crowd.

Take Lee’s Easter Eggs site for example (sorry Lee). Whilst he’s obviously done well with the generic hyphenated .org.uk version of Easter Eggs, could he have done as well or even better being say “IAmTheEggMan.co.uk” – ok that’s a bit of a lame name (and the domain is already taken), but you get the idea. It’s now something that’s not so generic, but a bit more brand identifiable.

Lee would still have the same excellent content and reviews but under a different umbrella it could possibly have helped make the site more memorable in terms of the media – as well as offer opportunities for branding (tshirts, chocolate bars) for users – something many affiliates overlook when starting out on new sites.

When we started Loquax developing a brand wasn’t at the back of our minds, nor was the fact that having an off beat name is quite useful when it comes to search engines. In fact we decided on a non competition or prize related name simply because at the time (1998) we could only afford to buy the one domain name. If the competitions thing didn’t work we could simply switch the site’s focus to something else.

For many affiliates domains are now cheap and disposable items that can be discarded once they’ve served their purpose or if they’ve failed to do as expected in the Google world. However, if you’re struggling to find that niche domain or generic-word.org.uk site that you so desire why not start thinking about coming up with a brand instead?

For us having an identity has been a huge asset and perhaps has been an integral part of the longevity of the site.

9 Comments Should You Be Trying To Rustle Up a Brand?

  1. Matt Bailey June 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

    As usual Jason I completely agree. It’s especially important to think about the power of a brand if you intend to sell your business at any point. When you first start out, having an exit strategy is probably the last thing on your mind but having a brand makes you a much more appealing proposition to any buyer.

    Let’s not forget that the biggest success stories that have come out of affiliate marketing are those that have established a brand for themselves. The likes of MoneySupermarket, confused.com, comparethemarket etc…

    Reply
  2. Jesse June 2, 2009 at 9:58 am

    I completely agree with you Jason, I started my musical theatre blog back in February and chose the name Musicalverse mainly because I couldn’t think of any other way to describe what I was going to actually have on the blog – which is a mix of musical theatre news, musical merchandise, musical theatre events and musical theatre tickets.

    It took a little while before it started receiving regular traffic but I am now starting to see traffic which has come from Google with the sites name as the keyword.

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  3. Dan June 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Spot on. We started Mooch on the same principle and it’s starting to pay off.

    The best possible traffic is brand traffic, and we’re seeing more and more organic traffic from searches for our site names.

    Not entirely sure about the easter eggs example – how much stock does google place on the keywords in the domain name, and would the site still rank at #3 for “easter eggs” under a more abstract domain?

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  4. Roshan June 3, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    A very good point Jason – I think the reason that “schools for thought” for beginners is focused around niche sites is because that they are easy to set up and could potentially start earning money almost immediately (short term strategy, quick wins). This then saves them time and disappointment as they should be less likely to fail. It’s also a good way to prove to them that money can be made online and quite quickly. To build a brand however would take much longer (longer term strategy), more time and more effort in my opinion. A mixture of strategies would be ideal and this is probably what should be in any beginners mind.

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  5. Bob June 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Agree brand is under-emphasised in AM, although depends (as always) on market and I think how wide ranging your offering is. For instance Petrolheads.com (nothing to do with me) is far more memorable and meaningful than fastcarstuff.com, particularly as there are lots of similar combinations of the latter, so ultimately however strong the site, there’ll be leakage to similar named ones.

    Impossible to forget yours Jason.
    Easy to forget bestvouchers4u and all the other combos….!

    I’ve heard ‘Build the brand while feeding it with related niches’ which seems a good overall plan ?

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  6. Joe Connor June 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Spot on, as usual, Jason. CantBarsed has proved a memorable brand asset and although it’s not my main site these days it still captures the imagination and one of these days I’ll return it to a site closer to it’s anarchic origins.

    Reply
  7. BLOGERCISE June 19, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I agree, the only reason to go for a non-brandable domain imo is because you have bought a domain that will get to the top of SERPS on the strength of keyword searches alone. If when you check the competition and your term is already dominated by established sites then you will need to do some serious site building to compete. If that is the case, and this is something I promote on my own site building site, go for something that stands out. If you aren’t in it for the long term, pick another keyword and niche.

    Reply
  8. Lee McCoy July 7, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Hi Jason,

    Only just found your post by looking at my backlinks (been a bit manic lately).

    One thing I found with the Easter egg sites is that people saw it us unprofessional as it had a crap domain and design and linked to it. Now if they linked to it more than if it was a better domain (I know own one) or with its new design is another thing. It’s got PR3 now which is helpful and can only contribute to its further growth.

    From the Easter site I started chocolate reviews to try and create a brand – it’ll be much easier because of the success of the Easter site, but we’ll see. Currently its doing well on Twitter but I’m only about 10% of where I want the content to be by the end of the year.

    My view is that there’s basically 2 routes to market for site-based affiliates: 1) Uber-seo – forget branding and catch people as they’re searching (long tail stuff); 2) Branding stuff, become a dominant player in the head of searches and aim to pick up other stuff as you go.

    What I’m trying to do is to have 2 sites in the same general area that attacks it in those 2 ways – with both working well individually, and helping each other. You could see it as a climbing plant using a sturdy tree to grow – a bit like the Katamari philosophy.

    What do you think?

    Lee

    Reply
  9. I Know Where It's At! August 28, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I have move to the brand is more important school of thought – if you’re thinking long term, audience retention is all important. Also never underestimate the power of word of mouth! We do most of our promotion offline with our event listings website (see my name for the cheeky link addition!!).

    Reply

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