Internet is the great equalizer of brands

There have been a lot of conversations concerning brands and the internet and dealing with search. Can search be used to build traditional “consumer” brands? Has search killed brands? How do the consumers interact with brands? Has search removed the competitive advantage of distribution?

At the end of the day, the internet has equalized the playing field. Brands can no longer rely on a warm fuzzy feeling, or a distribution deal better than the competitors, or a weak USP but being the only solution found. The consumer now uses the internet more and more and researches more and more. The current economic climate has created a large spike in search traffic for terms like “coupon code”, “promo code” and “discount”. There have always been those individuals that used the internet to find the best deals, but it is now mainstream. I don’t think it’s going to change either. Consumers now know they can get a better deal if they only search for one. Whether it’s x% off or free shipping, they are demanding a deal.

Brands can only control realistically 2 clicks on any given search (1 PPC and 1 Organic: I know it’s possible for indented links, but the majority only get 1 listing), so the rest of the links go somewhere else. They may go to blogs, resellers, channel partners wherever, it’s not the branded site. We can all thank Google for making it easy to find stuff from a personal reason, but brand managers can curse Google till the day they die for making it so hard to “control” the brand.

As consumers continue to use the internet for research and finding deals, it has ultimately leveled the playing field for brands to compete. Some will win on price, others will win on actually solving a real problem. The consumer will ultimately choose, marketers just need to realize the power of the web and the level field which we will playing on for awhile.

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